Patrick Bosworth, Co-founder and CEO
Duetto provides a range of tools and services for hotels and casinos to monitor and act on the complex world of revenue management.
Learning the trade at a number of hotels and resorts in the mid-2000s, the often outspoken Patrick Bosworth co-created Duetto in 2011 in the U.S.
It is almost a year since Duetto raised $80M, with the aim of product development and expansion, can you update us on those plans?
Our Series D has given us the opportunity to continue building out a world-class product and development team and investing in the things our customers care most about.
We are investing to improve the lives of our customers. We are making rapid progress to deliver on a promise to our customers to simplify the immense complexity of running a hotel company in these rapidly changing times.
We aspire to be the partner of choice to improve decisions, reduce complexity, save time, increase control, maximize performance, and foster peace of mind among the commercial teams at hotels.
Co-founder and CEO
Jeff Ma recently joined as SVP of products and analytics, what does he bring to Duetto and how big a challenge is getting hotels to think about data-informed decisions?
Jeff is a world-class executive with a track record of figuring out how companies can leverage data to simplify and resolve complex problems, which is directly relevant to challenges hoteliers face running their businesses.
With his stature, it improves our ability to attract exceptional talent who are intrigued by the unique opportunities to help the massive global hotel industry, which we love at Duetto.
Hotel executives are already using data to inform their decisions and our goal is not to drown them with more data. They should not have to radically change their mindsets to be successful.
It is our job to assemble all the data that’s needed, present it in a clear format, highlight what’s important, and recommend specific actions to improve the performance of their businesses.
I believe this is something that all hotel companies strive for and we have unique capabilities to help them make progress and be successful.
How might the complexity of buying a hotel room online be improved in 2019?
I think consumers are starting to become aware and understand the idea of rate parity and that they’re not going to find a great deal by searching dozens of different websites.
This means that all of the online channels -- OTAs, hotel brands, Google, etc. -- are looking to make better personal connections with more of an impact on each and every traveler.
Loyalty programs play a big part here, as well as truly simplifying the act of booking, an area where Google has made great strides.
We have an important role to play to ensure that at every point of interaction customers are being presented with the right price and product at that moment in time to fulfill their needs.
Google said in November that it was adding hotel booking to its Assistant, how does that impact the hotel distribution landscape in short to medium term as well as in light of Google's other recent moves?
Voice search and booking for travel is still in its very early days. There are still bugs and technical aspects to work out before expecting a critical mass of travelers to be booking through Google’s Assistant, Apple’s Siri or Amazon’s Alexa.
As the industry figures out the complexities, customers who are interested in being on the vanguard of this emerging trend will be able to experiment with it but I do not foresee it presenting a radical change in buying behavior in the short to medium term.
I like the principle though of meeting the customer wherever they’re interested in considering booking a trip.
Do you see the relationship between OTAs and Google changing significantly in the coming months in terms of the huge marketing sums invested?
I think the travel research and booking pies are big enough for everyone.
Google sits at the top of the funnel so it has a lot of power over where traffic is directed, and if its products continue to evolve it will have even more leverage over where traffic goes and how much it costs to acquire those customers.
I do not foresee major shifts within the next several months.
The hotel-OTA relationship continues to be an uneasy one, how do you see that playing out in the next six months?
Most hotels better understand the relationship and the value that OTAs bring, and are finding ways to only use them in need periods and to target specific markets.
But when demand is good and people are on the road, hotels have the leverage and can fight for lower commissions, which I’m expecting the big brands to do this year.
If the global economy goes through any shocks this year, it would be interesting to see how that balance of power would change.
Do you believe the Marriott-Expedia negotiations will have wider impact?
It will have a wide impact simply due to Marriott’s scale. Beyond that, yes, the other top hotel brands likely will have Marriott’s deal in mind when they go to the table.
Is this the year for Amazon to make a major move into travel and if so, what has changed?
I think it’s anybody’s guess as to if and when Amazon will make a serious play at a travel booking product. It’s a hard business to enter and requires significant investment and focus to do it well.
It has taken tentative strides with a recent deal with Melia to distribute Melia Rewards gift cards, but scaling supply globally and shifting consumer buying behavior would be really tough in the short term.
Saying that, Amazon is a forward-thinking company with more than 100 million Amazon Prime members so the hotel industry would do well to keep an eye on it.
As more and more hotels accept the value of data and find ways to harness it, does it lose its competitive edge?
No, there’s still so much more we can do as an industry to use data to improve decisions and I doubt there will ever be a time when companies cannot find new uses of data to drive differentiated results.
If everyone wants to become a one-stop shop, hotel chains, OTAs etc, who ultimately wins?
I have no idea and I do not think it's knowable, which is what makes growing companies so interesting.
No one is in such a dominant position that they are destined to win and there may be new disruptive innovations coming that could change the competitive dynamics entirely.
Was there anything that happened in hospitality in 2018 that really surprised you and why?
The travel industry continues to grow at a phenomenal rate. The UNWTO just announced that, in 2018, international tourist arrivals grew 6% to 1.4 billion - a benchmark UNWTO had previously forecast would be reached by 2020.
This shows us that people want to and will travel.
What the hospitality industry needs to understand is the changing habits of these travelers, and that there is no ‘one size fits all’ strategy. The market is fragmented and full of opportunity.
Duetto is now about six years old, how do you continue to drive innovation within the company?
Duetto was founded in 2012 and we just passed our seven year anniversary. We drive innovation by continuously talking to our customers and understanding their challenges and needs.
We are not only building the tools they need to succeed, but we challenge ourselves to think further ahead and imagine what is possible.
Striving to bring both modern strategies and modern technology to an entire global industry keeps us on our toes and I believe there is still much more we can do to help.
If you could change one thing about hotel distribution, what would it be?
I would make it possible for information to flow more freely to increase transparency, speed, flexibility, and accuracy throughout the ecosystem.
What have you learned since founding Duetto?
Gosh, so much. I am humbled every day by what a small team of brilliant, motivated people can accomplish in a short period of time and how critical it is to never give up or slow down.
I’ve also learned how important it is to never become overly confident in your own opinions and to always question assumptions since wrongly held opinions are so destructive.
More from our In The Big Chair series
PhocusWire talks to leaders across travel technology and distribution.