The Byte interviews Duncan Waterman

CMS Hospitality launched our new Cloud Based property management system for hostels, GuestCentrix Hostel.Web at the inaugural WYSE Exchange Australia earlier this year. To get to know our Sales Manager, Duncan Waterman, a little better at the launch, Chris Harrison  from the Byte magazine sat down for a chat with Duncan.

Tell us about your background in the industry?
I spent seven years in the 2000’s in Europe working in travel distribution. For a young guy from small town country Victoria it was a great learning opportunity. More recently I have had sales, partnership and management roles with large Global Distribution Systems (like CMS GuestCentrix) and was fortunate to have spent a few years at SiteMinder during its first burst of rapid growth.

Last time you backpacked?
Last year I stayed at a hostel on the Great Ocean Road on a work trip for the first time in quite a few years.  The biggest change since I last stayed in a backpackers was how young everyone was and how connected they were ALL the time.

What do you see as the greatest challenges for the hostels moving forward?
The growth in popularity of unregulated accommodation providers such as Airbnb poses a great challenge to the accommodation market in general and they seem to be getting more popular by the hour.  I think it’s unfair that hostels and hotels have to comply with strict regulations where landlords renting sometimes dodgy accommodation via Airbnb can bypass some of these laws.

Having said that, I have been working  with some hostels of late who are investing many millions of dollars upgrading their properties to offer design-hostels with great rooms and amazing public spaces.  I am no expert but I think the hostels who can meet the social experience needs of the current and next generation of travellers will be winners.

What are hostel owners most interested in when talking to you?
This is an interesting one. Coming into this role from a distribution background I thought the most common questions would be about how owners could reduce the large commission payments paid to big, dominant OTAs. Don’t get me wrong, I spend a lot of time talking about that but recently what has been a major topic is how most owners and managers want to obtain more control over their business via their reservation systems.

To explain, GuestCentrix has a booking audit trail feature and I really enjoy seeing the sparkle in someone’s eye when I show them how such a simple feature works.  You can literally see people shoulders relax a little knowing that they will be able to quickly identify and fix the little mistakes in the future that irk them today.

Away from work how do you relax?
I am an amatuer body surfer and an improving pizza cook.  I love the water and challenge of trying to catch the perfect wave whilst dodging the dumpers.  At home I have fun combining new pizza recipes on my kids slowly maturing taste buds!

Favourite destination?
We are really enjoying exploring the Port Stephens region, it’s a stunning part of the world.  I recently had lunch at Bub’s Fish & Chips in Nelson Bay which has to be the best fish & chips in Australia.

The Byte is the leading industry website and newsletter for the backpacker and youth tourism industry in Australia.

 

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