The Really Big Idea Sketchpad Approach to the Technology Hospitality Entrepreneurship Roundtable

More than two dozen industry leaders met in Ithaca, NY, in April 2018 for the Really Big Idea Sketchpad Approach to the Technology Hospitality Entrepreneurship Roundtable, hosted by the Pillsbury Institute for Hospitality Entrepreneurship(PIHE) at the School of Hotel Administration (SHA) in the Cornell SC Johnson College of Business.

Opening challenge: be present and creative

The discussion kicked off with a challenge to be present and creative in thought and action throughout the sessions, as each participant aimed to complete a Really Big Idea that could make a difference in the hospitality industry using the entrepreneurial tool called the Really Big Idea Sketchpad.

Frames for engagement of discussion, using a tool called the Ladder of Inference from LiberatingStructures.com, were reviewed. The Really Big Idea Sketchpad was reviewed at a high level as the conceptual frame for the four discussions of the day.

Session 1: The Big C

The first session was called the Big C (Users, Buyers, and Economic Decision Makers), and it reviewed a parallax-gap approach to customers.

The session included a discussion of the multiple ways a customer could be defined in a sales process (such as selling technology to decision makers, line-level employees, and/or end users) and at what point each customer segmentation exhibits information (data) fatigue. It also explored the versatility of guest profiles and the ways in which technology can best capture the preferences of guests ahead of their stays.

Session 2: The Big P

The second session, called the Big P (Team, Experience, and Knowledge), reviewed technology in the evaluation of people by launching a discussion about the idea of augmentation verses automation in customer-relationship management.

The discussion emphasized which touch points can be the most impactful in hospitality efforts.

Session 3: The Big O

The third session was called the Big O (Product, Service, and Solution) and named and described trust in the technology offering.

The discussion revolved around guest engagement in relationship to technology, in alignment with the question of the impact being cool versus creepy. Three elements—transparency, integrity, and control—were highlighted, the distinction between security and privacy was debated, and the tradeoff between convenience and privacy was discussed.

Session 4: The Big V

The final session was called the Big V (offerings to the buyers and customers) and introduced social media policies to support the value-creation narrative for entrepreneurs.

Global data protection regulation (GDPR) was discussed in relation to the digital marketing realm. GDPR is concerned with a variety of elements, including surveillance, but most importantly, the right to be forgotten and the right of portability. In the EU, if a person is identifiable, a person is protected under EU privacy protection law.

The idea of information fatigue was discussed, and a layered approach to informed consent and a “just in time” process was suggested for consent.


The roundtable concluded with participants submitting their Really Big Ideas for consideration for use in classroom discussions.

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