Industry Leaders Conference - Mr. Michael Levie (H83), Founding Partner and COO at citizenM

On 2 October 2018, we were pleased to welcome Mr. Michael Levie (H83), ESSEC alumnus and Founding Partner & CEO of citizenM, for the 1st Industry Leaders Conference of the 2018-2019 Academic Year. The conference provided participants with a valuable opportunity to hear from Mr. Levie, a respected thought leader within the European hospitality technology community.

During the conference, Mr. Levie spoke about the distinct difference between the Hospitality industry in the US, Europe, and the rest of the world, giving Global MBA participants and MSc in Hospitality Management students a clear overview of the key characteristics of these markets. 

Career Advice
Sharing career advice from his rich experience in the industry, Mr. Levie emphasized that it is paramount to understand the organization and the purpose of the organization which you are looking to work for. If your values are aligned with the company, you will never work a day in your life.

Mr. Levie encouraged participants to start the exploration phase right now, contacting people and asking them questions to understand if the culture and values of the company aligned with them, as it makes a big difference if you can contribute to something which you like. 

Trends in the Hospitality Industry
Mr. Levie also spoke about how distribution and technology in Hospitality are going to change dramatically. 

In terms of distribution, recent developments have changed the way people sell, and distribution is likely to move from segmentation towards channel management, where the focus is on selling inventory most effectively.

Mr. Levie also highlighted 3 aspects of technology, namely:

Hotel Systems

These are systems that we need to operate a hotel, eg. Property Management Systems (PMS), Point of Sale systems (POS) and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems.

Technology that deals with distribution

Mr. Levie encouraged participants who had an affinity with distribution and technology to explore careers in this area, as this is where the biggest changes are going to be in the coming years. 

For Mr. Levie, technology is not exactly changing the world, but it allows him to move very differently. 

Guest-facing technology

Mr. Levie elaborated on how APIs have been used for mass customization, and highlighted the importance of data in decision-making.

Using citizenM as an example, Mr. Levie illustrated how guest-centricity drives their decisions, from the first moment when they decide where to build the hotel. To Mr. Levie, if you go into a niche and do what the niche market expects well, you will really be able to do well.

Lastly, Mr. Levie highlighted the importance of the people in the organization, and explained that one of the key hiring criteria for him is having an individual whose values overlap greatly with the company’s values. To Mr. Levie, being nice, being down-to-earth, and being human, is of utmost importance, and when you treat people with respect, they will treat you with respect as well.

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