SPONSOR CON-X 2023: Interview Matt Stuart, CCO STUBA
Posted by Vero
- We'll talk about it at Con-X, but could you tell us about your own case? How do you deal with decision-making in your company?
- Stuba is a very entrepreneurial, owner-driven company, and as a result, decision making is bold and decisive. We see this as a great advantage over much of our larger business competition, where we remain very nimble in the face of market changes and variations. We discuss investment ideas and make decisions quickly. Then we either pull through and accelerate success, or we fail fast, and then we know we have to change direction quickly.
- What do you see as the main trends in tourism distribution today?
- I see two main trends. Personalization. One-size-fits-all is dying, and customers want, expect and deserve more personalization in their travel. People are becoming more discerning and are looking for more experiential travel rather than generic "me too" trips. The average booking value continues to rise. Some of this can be explained by inflation and the cost of living, but we are seeing increases in the value of bookings well in excess of inflation, so I think the covid experience has made people feel more mortal, that life is for living and that travel to other countries and cultures is more important to them than ever.
- Have you made any bold decisions in your company, and can you tell us any anecdotes?
- We make many bold decisions each year about where we take the business, however, three stand out for me. When it became clear in the late spring of 2020 that Covid was going to devastate the travel industry for many months and possibly years to come, we, like most, set about looking for areas where we could reduce costs. With a large development/technology team, this is a significant budget each year for Stuba, so it was very tempting, and it would have been very easy to cut this budget as we did with all other functions. However, we decided early on that eventually covid would go away and people would go back to travelling, so we could take advantage of this downtime to accelerate our technological progress while others slowed down. It was scary, because covid lasted longer than any of us had anticipated, but it was a wise decision, as we are now much further ahead than if we had paused or cut back.
Staying true to our business model. We are very clear about our model. We are clear about our demographic distribution, our sourcing/purchasing methods, our technology strategy and our product line. Hotels. A lot of our competitors set up many product lines, different businesses, try to be everything to everybody, whereas I think we are brave sticking to a very clear and focused business model and not running after every single opportunity that we think we might be able to make some money, but often it means you take your eye off the profitable part of your business, and you end up worse off.
Invest in the new user interface of our "curated hotels" and launch it. While most brag about having ever-increasing millions of accommodations available to book with them, we are doing the opposite, reducing the number of hotels we offer, BUT, using AI and smart algorithms to present collections of hotels that would match the type of product the agent would normally book, based on lifestyle categories and advanced filtering. We don't present millions of hotels, just a few that matter!
- Why should CON-X participants talk to you, and what can you offer them?
- We are a market leading, 32 year reputable, reliable and innovative b2b hotel provider, so any travel agency, tour operator, airline or loyalty card operator should talk to us about how we can add value to their business by allowing access to our selected hotel collections, enabling them to gain greater customer satisfaction and an improved and faster search and booking process.
- What is your experience with the events organized by TravelgateX, would you recommend them to other companies?
- Yes, TravelgateX organizes great events. After-X is my favourite networking event of the year. Relaxed, good crowd and fun atmosphere for doing business. I highly recommend it.