The Great Debate

Coke or Pepsi? Dogs or cats? Star Wars or Star Trek? To the list of life’s grand, potentially unanswerable questions, we can add two more: Humans or AI? And, loyalty programs or bust? HSMAI will explore both sides of these hot-button revenue-management issues in a general session called “The Great Debate” at the 2018 Revenue Optimization Conference (ROC) in Houston on June 19–20. 

A pair of distinguished revenue-management professionals will square off for each topic — flipping a coin to see which side they have to take, and working to convince the audience that it’s the right answer. Attendees will change positions in the room based on which debater they agree with. “It’s about making people more informed about their opinions on these key issues,” said Kelly McGuire, Ph.D., senior vice president of revenue management for MGM Resorts International. “We want to turn things over to the crowd, and so we’re looking for interactions, we’re looking for comments and questions, and we’re going to make people take sides and really think through why they’ve taken one side or another.”

There will be two separate “Great Debate” programs at ROC:

  1. Human vs. Machine: “The industry debate is whether, with advances in analytics, artificial intelligence, and machine learning, systems will eventually be able to take over revenue management,” McGuire said. “Or, regardless of how great the technology gets, we will always need revenue managers. The statement is going to be: No matter how great the technology gets, we’ll always need human revenue managers — do you believe it or not?”
  1. The Future of Loyalty: “Loyalty programs and rewarding people for loyalty are pretty much obsolete at this point,” McGuire said, “because of the changing consumer and because of the past history with these programs. The other side of that is: No, these programs work. Traditional loyalty is not dead — we’re just evolving it with changing times. It’s getting at this idea of, what does loyalty in hospitality really mean? Is the concept as we’ve known it still valid?”

When the dust settles on both debates, McGuire doesn’t expect to come to any conclusive answers, because that’s not the point. “I hope that people take the opportunity to think through these issues and either validate their perspective or really change it,” McGuire said, “because there’s a lot of noise that happens around these issues in the industry, and I feel like people kind of adopt whatever the prevailing thinking is. But these are burning challenges that will impact the direction of the industry over the next five, 10 years. We really need to think these through.”

HSMAI’s 2018 Revenue Optimization Conference (ROC) will be held in Houston on June 19–20. To learn more — and to register — click here.

Categories: Revenue Management
Insight Type: Articles