Mark Haywood—Senior Vice President & General Manager (Europe), RateGain—got candid with the team, and talked about his time at RateGain, the organization, and the industry. Check out what he has to say.
1) How long you have been working for RateGain?
I’ve been with the company for just over three years now and am based out of our European hub in Barcelona. I’ve been in the hospitality industry for just over 2 decades, having spent the last 11 years in the technology side of the business and the prior block of time being a hotelier across various departments & functions.
2) What is the vision that drives you forward every day?
Over the years I think I’ve actually had many mottos which inspire me & have been commonly used by me, hence they sometimes annoy those around me in parallel (laughing). I’ve been with a “own the change” mantra for the last few years though – this is probably brought on by some of what was happening in the industry and hearing many peers across companies saying they wanted things to come back differently or to pivot and I genuinely believe that people shouldn’t wait for change to come but be part of the change when they see something which needs enhancing etc. One of my favorite mantras, from quite a few years back, was “just do it” but with hindsight I can see why “own the change” is a lot better for relationships! I truly am in love with this industry and my driving force is being part of its evolution!
3) In your role as General Manager, how do you motivate the people that you work with?
I am a believer in team work, am not such a hierarchical person. & feel giving people space to take decisions plus be heard is important. I like to have a structure, so things don’t fall through the net or rely on a one-man show, but genuinely prefer working through projects, ideas & issues together rather than simply telling people what to do or inflict my own ways of working on people. Obviously, everyone is different though and some people need both extra (& less) attention than others – so finding the balance is often a critical game which needs to be played. Encouraging open communication across teams and organizations is key to truly keeping up to speed, plus obviously recommending people “own the change!” when they see or feel something needs to be done differently.
4) How much does the office culture impact the team feeling and collaboration?
We had a long time away from being in an office environment together, due to COVID etc., and obviously this had an impact on our return to the office planning too. We made a big effort to maintain culture & social interactions during the “work from home” era but there truly is no comparison between being able to chat casually over coffee or lunch with colleagues to dialing into a very “planned” online social gathering. I definitely was happy to see that the largest percentage of team in Barcelona were pushing to get back into the office vs wanting to stay at home too. We still have a social calendar of planned events to celebrate together, and which focus on growing culture, but I see that this is now organically evolving with each month that passes based on being together and being able to collaborate easier – the number of scheduled TEAMS & Zoom meetings has dropped heavily since we moved back to the office and this is something which I know that I am not the only one to be thrilled about. The new office has been designed to encourage collaboration between teams and includes multiple “sofa & informal” areas to enable this to grow.
5) How do you think RateGain differentiates itself from our competitors?
RateGain is in quite a unique situation whereby we work with a 360 degree area of the travel & hospitality industry, whereas many of the companies who are in our space work with just one part of the industry, for example some travel tech companies work with “just hotels” or “only with airlines” etc. but we work across the hospitality & travel verticals, and this wider area of coverage gives us very strong insights into what is truly happening in our client markets, taking into consideration many more factors. The lines of business within RateGain, distribution, business intelligence & digital services, are also all very heavily interlinked for clients and allow us to not only advise someone of what is happening, with business intelligence, but also help them take actions against the knowledge, via distribution or digital services.
6) What do you think is the biggest challenge facing the hospitality industry?
The hospitality industry has gone through some tough times in recent years, I don’t think anyone can argue with that, but the worst of it is now behind us. There are some very key topics which are playing out in the industry currently too, including staff shortages, inflation on operating expenses, and a business mix change from corporate to leisure guests for certain markets. The need for hoteliers to pivot and be flexible in their offerings is deeper now than at any other time in my career previously. I would always recommend keeping up to date with new technology, i.e. moving away from some of the legacy systems which have less integrations, looking deeper at partners who can give you automization around cause & affect, reviewing a wider channel mix than previously in play for certain markets, ensuring that effort is made to drive & reward direct clients, and enhancing guest engagement methods. The industry has innovated heavily in the last couple of years and I know will continue to do so – so I can’t say enough how important it is for people to keep up to date on what solutions exist both with their current vendors and generally who exist in the market now vs. a few years back.