NEW YORK -- Forget Airbnb and the sharing economy, the hotel
industry's biggest nemesis today is tech giants like Google, Facebook and Amazon.
That seemed to the consensus Monday during a panel of CEOs
at the 40th annual NYU International Hospitality Industry Investment
The issue: the entrance of tech giants into the travel
space and their ability as intermediaries to gather and adeptly use so much
personal information about customers.
"I think we are in an absolute war for who owns the
customer, and it's a long-term war," Marriott International CEO Arne
"They are without a doubt trying to take our customers,"
he said. "They want to own our customers."
To be clear, he said, the hotel industry will be competing
with Airbnb for years. But as Hilton CEO Christopher Nassetta noted, the "world
is taking care of that" as governments have begun to adopt rules to level
the competitive playing field between sharing companies and traditional
To win the battle of customer ownership, AcccorHotels CEO
Sebastien Bazin said hoteliers need to take advantage of every opportunity to
interface directly with their customers.
"They have all the information on me but they have
never met me," he said. "We just have to take advantage of that
moment. ... That moment of interface is very valuable."
"In a sense, it's shame on us if we don't own the
customer," he said. "They sleep with us, they eat with us. They
shower with us."