After months of anticipation, the Direct Booking Summit EMEA opened its doors this morning - and if the first day is anything to go by, this could very well be the best event yet. Hundreds of innovation leaders gathered in the heart of Paris for the biggest event in hospitality, with 25 influential figures within the industry presenting keynotes, panels and debates across a wide range of fascinating topics. With many common themes including cultivating brand loyalty, optimizing the customer experience and the importance of prioritizing long-term success, there was an abundance of valuable, engaging and practical advice for hoteliers to apply to their own organizations.

Beyond our packed agenda, our Networking Lounge was full of hoteliers sharing experiences and Triptease coaches offering one-to-one advice.

Despite a cold, foggy morning in Paris, our main conference hall was packed for a morning workshop from Clemént Dénarié of Oaky on increasing direct revenue through innovative upselling techniques. Charlie Osmond, Triptease’s Chief Tease, then took the stage and welcomed DBS attendees as “a part of the Direct Booking Summit family.” This was a welcome reminder of the shared aim between the present attendees, and set the tone for a morning featuring some of the most influential names in hospitality.

Antoine Dubois of Accor Group took us through the process of streamlining branding towards certain audiences with simplicity, immediacy, personalization and looking beyond the stay. Antoine’s comprehensive analysis demonstrated how the method was proven to dramatically increase direct revenue. Next up, Joe Pettigrew, Director of Revenue Maximization at Starwood Capital Group and one of our Hotel Heroes, took the stage with ten tips to improve every hotel’s performance. With his eye-opening revenue & distribution charts and a number of surprising revelations, Joe’s trademark enthusiasm and conviction provided one of the conference’s high-points.

The morning’s light relief came in the form of a particularly unconventional panel which provided an entertaining take on prioritizing your direct booking budget. Pierre-Charles Grob, CEO of D-EDGE, and Martin Soler, Partner at Soler & Associates, gamely took to the stage for a session where the two speakers built their own budgets with building blocks scattered across the stage. With two very different approaches focusing on everything from metasearch and website design to parity management and loyalty schemes, this panel provided an active approach to budgeting that instigated some heated debate between the speakers and our delegates - and ultimately led to an implementable plan for optimizing ROI.

Pierre-Charles Grob, CEO of D-EDGE, argued that the foundation of staff training and CRM was crucial before tackling the bigger issues.

The agenda then split out into two streams, with the main conference center focusing on sales, marketing and e-commerce and the other discussing the latest in revenue and distribution. Utilizing customer feedback in real-time, perfecting personalization and a live website demo from TripAdvisor that covered each step of a traveller’s path to purchase were some of the highlights of a busy streamed agenda full of workshops, keynotes and Q&A sessions. One particular highlight was the formidable tag-team couple of William Koo and Dr. Wendy Lam, flying in all the way from Hawaii to deliver a presentation on the e-commerce experience packed full of tangible advice for delegates to take home.

After our specialists concluded the streamed part of Day One, the Summit took a high-intensity approach to some of the industry’s most debated subjects. Geneviéve Materne, Vice President of Global Distribution Strategy at Hyatt, kicked off the final set of talks by evaluating the relationship between hotels and third parties, advising attendees to “control your cost and get back control of your inventory” with an abundance of actionable takeaways and relatable examples. Panels on wholesalers and OTAs followed, with an in-depth look on how the notoriously strained relationship between these third parties and hotels is dramatically changing.

In a fiery panel discussion, our experts analyzed the wholesale issue - and the overall role of third parties in the future of distribution.

Charlie Osmond rounded out the day with a prophetic look at the future of metasearch’s position in hotel marketing and distribution, before delegates were whisked away to L’Arc for a celebratory evening of dinner, drinks (and potentially a glimpse of Paris’s greatest landmarks through the rain). We’ll be back to do it all again on Thursday, where speakers will be tackling everything from data visualization to the future of loyalty.

Interested in more in-depth content from DBS Paris? Keep an eye on our Content Hub over the coming days for further highlights, articles and videos from our industry-leading speakers.