Monday, February 8, 2010

Destination Innovation - Hilton Amsterdam

By Connie Harryman, Applied Concepts Creativity
Guest Blogger IIR USA
LIVE Front End of Innovation Europe 2010

Speaker: Roberto Payer: General Manager, HILTON AMSTERDAM

Interactive Collaborative Design Workshop: Destination Innovation.
How the Hilton Amsterdam Reinvented Itself

Roberto began with the photo of a gorgeous peacock. He tells us a peacock cannot fly. This is something many people do not know or notice. There is a currently a new socio-economic landscape with 18 different cultures in the country.

Technology cannot do everything. There is the power of the human touch. We now have tribes with followers. How do you provide value when your hotel is losing $3 million per year? What do we need to change? Is it the organization or is it money? Perhaps we need to determine what turns people on?

The Hilton Hotel was built in 1958. It was the first public/private partnership in 1960’s. People come to see philosophy, architecture, green, and water. Structures are changing and there was a need to change the structure.

Emotions both for and against can kill your ideas. This is mindset. He needed the freedom to be “what I want to be.” This is a soft business, and we have to change every nine months. He said that society is very fragmented and they have to be quick to receive their return on investment.

Some of the unique ideas that Roberto Payer brought to the Hilton Amsterdam included bringing in boats when Amsterdam had none. The goal was to be the best downtown. He created green spaces with open windows even when he had no budget. He created an Italian restaurant, called Roberto’s. It was the only Italian restaurant in 1992, again with no budget. The ROI on the restaurant is 15%.

To attract people, they created the Marina, Hilton Yacht Club. Since John Lennon and Yoko Ono had stayed at the Hilton Amsterdam, they made this suite into the most spoken about suite in the world.

Roberto is heavily involved in political and community groups. He also serves as advisor to two schools. In 1993 they did a special dinner especially designed for 1,000 children where children served as the waiters. This is a business hotel but it also has a family orientation. They have also done a children’s Christmas hotel. He got the idea from a trip to Martha’s Vineyard where this was done for the elderly.

Another idea is to connect the hotel through partnerships with museums. He created the Van Gogh room. They had an opening with the Queen in attendance and invited 400 decision makers.

An upcoming project involves the Modern Art Museum. There are 14 million Hilton Honors members. When someone Googles the Modern Art Museum, he wants the Hilton Amsterdam to be the sole partner.

He leaves us with these tips for success:
1.) Look around.
2.) Develop partnerships with other people.
3.) Look for uniqueness that cannot be copied.

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