Microsoft Industry Advisor Dave Moore on Innovating the Travel and Hospitality Space

Dave Moore is part of Microsoft’s U.S. marketing and operations team, serving as the company’s travel and hospitality industry advisor. His goal is to act as a subject matter expert internally, educating sales teams that help travel companies execute their digital transformation. With almost 25 years of experience, Moore previously spent nearly 10 years with American Airlines, CheapTickets, and Expedia prior to arriving at Microsoft, where he led the Travel & Local business development efforts for Bing & MSN. Moore shares with Adrienne Weil, vice president of strategic partnerships and business development for the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA), what Microsoft is all about, the innovations that are changing the company’s approach, how the industry is evolving, and more.

Can you give a bit of background on your company and what made you want to get involved with AHLA?

Microsoft enables digital transformation for the era of an intelligent cloud and an intelligent edge. We’re made up of three engineering groups: Cloud & AI, Experiences & Devices, and Technology & Research. With over 100,000 employees in the United States alone, our mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.
A colleague suggested joining AHLA would be a great opportunity to let the U.S. hospitality community know that Microsoft has some great products and services that can help them bounce back from the pandemic.

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What innovations have changed the way Microsoft approaches its hospitality clients over the past few years?

While the virus has had a devastating impact on all travel clients, hospitality clients are poised to gain most by implementing Teams for the Frontline Worker due to the very nature of their business. Microsoft’s Work Trend Index shows that hospitality frontline workers are at an inflection point: 59 percent say they’ve been learning on the fly, with no formal training on the necessary skills. Many find digital interactions with customers challenging, creating job frustration and anxiety. While employees understand the value of new technology improvements to enhance the customer experience, underinvestment in their tools contributes to 38 percent of responding hospitality workers saying they feel undervalued. As hospitality leaders, you strive to care for people so they can be at their best: delighting guests, operating with excellence, engaging employees, and building trust are key to the success of any brand. We understand how hard it is to hire, train, and retain motivated employees to deliver your brand message every day. Microsoft Teams is the innovation that can help you meet this challenge, providing Chats, Meetings, Calls, and Office 365, all coupled with enterprise-grade security and compliance. By providing simplified communications, shift scheduling, and push-to-talk functionality, all your lines of business can be seamlessly integrated into the experience.

How do you see the hotel industry evolving over the next five years?

The hospitality industry will be in a unique position over the next five years. As we emerge from the pandemic, people need to reconnect face-to-face and enjoy experiences together. Personalization offers the chance to improve brand loyalty, incremental spending, and off-peak demand—so many of the challenges that hospitality has always battled against. Those clients in hospitality that can make the customer experience everything it can be—across all their points of contact—will capture more than their fair share of customer value. Tracking how a person books, interacts with your sites/staff, and intelligently stitching those data silos together using AI tools to create a more robust profile is how separation will begin to occur in the market. Only then can actionable insight give marketers the opportunity to optimize customer journeys and offer more value with each interaction.

The speed at which cyber security threats materialize and evolve coupled with the hospitality industry’s global reach will make this a focus category over the next five years as well. With its access to personal and payment information and the requirement to store and transport this information across digital systems and regions, the sector’s risk of cyberattack requires an approach that not only protects against those attacks but prioritizes resilience. Looking ahead, cyber threats will grow in complexity and range as digitization continues to enhance hotel operations. Cyber resilience is integral to the future of hotel operations as cyber systems continue to facilitate and enhance business operations and customer experiences. For the sector to continue its recovery from COVID-19 and enhance its resilience for the future, it must integrate cyber security and cyber resilience in its recovery efforts.

What do you like most about being in the hotel industry?

Simply put, the people. The hospitality industry is at the heart of how folks travel—but they also have a pulse on the traveler experience, which goes much deeper than just a night’s stay in a destination for whatever reason. Part of my job as industry advisor is to listen to the hotel community, learn what challenges MSFT could help address, and execute them at scale.

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Adrienne Weil is vice president of strategic partnerships and business development at the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA). Weil is responsible for the design and implementation of a comprehensive growth strategy to stimulate incremental growth in AHLA’s premier partner program.