Following his presentation at our Open Innovation summit in London, we spoke with Victor Fernandez, CEO of Room Mate Group.
Víctor Fernández has been the CEO of Room Mate since 2015. This is the international group which encompasses Room Mate Hotels, Be Mate (the innovative tourist housing company) and X-Perience (a consultancy with the Room Mate stamp and PwC collaboration). For four years previous to this he was the Managing Director of Room Mate Hotels.
Following his incorporation, the company’s results have quadrupled and he has developed an ambitious diversification and expansion project, with the company now being present in more than 16 cities around the world. Before Room Mate, Víctor developed a family real-estate company which became the leading company in the tourism consultancy sector in Spain.
How can innovators prepare their business for a transformed future? (digital, blockchain etc.)
Being always in beta: innovation implies rethinking, reconsidering and reinventing everything that surrounds us. It means, in our case, being disruptive and non-conformists, always staying one step ahead. It means being a visionary.
At the same time, it is fundamental to understand technology as a tool behind which there are people. Innovation comes from people, not machines.
How has innovation strategy been affected by the rise of the gig economy?
We believe in collaborating with external partners, who are always 100% involved, but our long-term strategy requires extra commitment, which is why we are betting on the internationalization of talent.
What technology do you force to be the next big industry disrupter and why?
Artificial intelligence. This will allow us to listen to and get to know people much better, anticipate their needs and optimize our resources. If we want to make them happy we must be able to surprise them, and the AI will help us to do it much better.
Can you outline a few best practices for approaching open innovation collaboration across industries?
Smart Cities is a good example. For the creation of this projects we need mobility, aviation, hotels and other city players to work in a coordinated way to make both the local and traveler experiences much better.
In a big multi-national, how are you fostering a startup ecosystem for fearless innovation and rapid growth?
If we neglect our people, our day to day stops making sense; but if we stop innovating, we cannot continue surprising them. That is why we believe in a model that allows both the operative and the startup spirit to coexist in parallel, allowing our people to get involved in innovation without any fear.
Today we are a multinational, but we were born as a startup. And that spirit is always going to be part of our DNA.
How important is consumer feedback in driving your innovation strategy?
It is our most appreciated treasure. If our objective is to make people happy, how could we do it without listening to them?
What can the audience expect to take away from your presentation at the Open Innovation Summit?
Disruption, inspiration, non-conformity and lots of fun.