Chief Digital and Experience Officer
Mark Liversidge is, to use his own words, “impatient, inquisitive and an explorer”. It’s an attitude that has seen him travel through industries – telecoms, technology, retail, hospitality – and live in regions including Europe, Australasia, Greater China, Asia and, with The Student Hotel, back to Europe in the Netherlands. His video background is an imposing piece of street art from a favela in Rio de Janeiro, where he spent time at the 2016 Olympics with Hilton Worldwide as a partner of the Chinese government and Olympic committee.
Although his telecoms career is peppered with “interesting things” (in the teams launching O2, Orange online, the birth of complex managed data hosting, the world’s first 4G network), it was hospitality that introduced him to his biggest challenge.
“I’ve always seen hospitality as something of a Luddite in terms of technology use,” he says. “Having been at the front end of mobile technology, I was always immensely surprised at its lack of utility, of mobile-based engagement with consumers.”
Working in the APAC region during the 2010s, where average consumers already had 2.6 mobile devices and mobile based shopping behaviours, he carried his technology experience across to hospitality with Hilton Worldwide and set about delivering a customer experience that worked with the various cultures, economies and digital technology trends. It became an end-to-end customer experience journey from online booking, to mobile app and digital key, with distinctive culturally sensitive stay experiences and a modified customer loyalty system, as part of a global program to regain ownership of the customer and significantly increase direct business.
By this point, Liversidge had a young family and wanted to put down roots. He returned to Europe and moved into consulting working on specific projects based in next generation and emerging market consumers within emerging sectors such as e-gaming and organic food boxes, before the opportunity to link this new knowledge and his technology background created a pathway to The Student Hotel.
“TSH were thinking about what their future business model was going to be, and that conversation turned into this quite distinctive leadership role.” The position, Chief Digital and Experience Officer, is a blend of CTO/CIO roles with digital, some marketing and customer experience baked in.
It was an opportunity to be part of a youthful team to take TSH from being a purpose-built student accommodation company to rethinking what hospitality should look like for a digitally native generation and beyond “whether that's students in residence, co-living people in residence, or businesses with hot hubs being set up”. The core technology is now in place to drive an efficient and scalable hybrid space model, with the next phase to bring new service experiences directly onto the guest’s devices to curate their own personal journeys.
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“It's very different recruiting people for something you're building from scratch, compared to recruiting for something that is already running.”