Hotelplan: Whither Tourism in the Digital Economy?

CoDE’s Business Insights Lab at Surrey Business School has gone from inception to full power in a matter of weeks – which is appropriate, really, for a Lab designed to help businesses cope with the speed and scope of change and innovation in the Digital Economy. In essence, our Lab is executive education re-configured for the modern business landscape, and cast in an Agile model. It’s the next stage of management evolution, and it can’t come soon enough.

In conjunction with the sector-leading School of Hospitality and Tourism Management, we recently ran a Lab for Board members and senior management from Hotelplan, which now also incorporates Inghams. The merger has raised some interesting business dilemmas, which were ripe for the mash-up of design thinking, agile development, and collaborative working that distinguish the Business Insights Lab:

  • The merger resulted in two identical/overlapping Ski Holiday brands. How should the company manage this duplication? Could one ‘arm’ be re-branded for a different market?
  • In the wake of the 2007 financial crisis, how could off-season revenue be maximised in order to take best advantage of chalet property?
  • How could the Lakes & Mountains option be popularised for a wider demographic?

On each issue, we ran the process of teaching an idea/idea + example/application, which resulted in assumptions and led to a ‘sprint’ of testing those assumptions in a fast iteration. Finally, we reflected not only on the results, but also the processes that delivered those results.

Our guests admitted that they were swept away by the Lab experience: having arrived expecting a traditional exec-ed style series of lectures, they were instead thrown into action, experimentation, awkward questions, awkward answers, sector relevance, and a shocking degree of application!

We’ve got big plans for the Business Insights Lab, and we’re off to an amazing start.

Could your business do with some digital business experimentation?

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About the Author : Kris Henley

Communications and Outreach for Surrey Business School's Centre for the Digital Economy, a newly-founded research centre to explore the implications of the Digital Economy for business, government and society.

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