Why it matters: We really don’t mean to bring down the mood here - it’s been such a great year. Indeed, only a few weeks ago we highlighted this year’s record occupancy numbers. However, there are very good reasons to be cautious and Steve Belmonte does a nice, if not scary job of presenting them. So this one is a word of caution. It is now seven years since the downturn, a number that seems to coincide with troughs and peaks in many industries, and there are a few very legitimate concerns around the corner.
Supply of beds (note “bed”, not rooms, not hotels) is at an all time high. With the investment in the industry and with the introduction of the seemingly endless supply of Airbnb inventory as every single homeowner or renter looks to make an extra buck, any turn in demand will surely lead to nervous times.
Additionally, it seems that public markets are due a reversal. Having risen for so long we saw the first signs of frailties in August when the Dow Jones lost almost 6.5%, the worst August in 17 years, and if history is anything to go by, the private markets will follow suit, leading to a 2016 with potentially fewer heads in beds.
Why it matters: We love the work Skift does and this one tops the lot. Their latest magazine on global fault lines and conflicts that are determining the direction of the travel industry is for hoteliers, guests, vendors and travel enthusiasts alike. It highlights thirty trends (fault lines) that will surely shape the themes of many of blogs across the industry next year. There are too many to cover in a short summary, but we particularly agree with the segment on Customer Experience being the new Customer Service. Customer experience is the genesis of loyalty for even when things go wrong, it is often how you deal with issues that can create a customer for life (as Robert Holmes, GM of the Hotel Belleclaire, pointed out in his recent Tricks of The Trade piece). This means empowering not just your management, but your employees as well, through training and even budget allowance to continuously delight and surprise the guest at every touchpoint.
Why it matters: With all the talk of the sharing economy and constant moves in the booking space, it seemed the ever dominating millennial generation were taking a back seat after enjoying quite some time in the limelight. Then Choice Hotels put out a fantastic infographic and study on the top 10 travel habits of their millennial customer base. By definition, millennials are those born between the 1980s and early 2000s, although you have some folks born in the early 1980s who protest falling into the category (our CTO among them).
Millennials, often misunderstood as rude and ignorant, are of growing importance. See “who are millennials:” they now represent 25% of the US population and by some forecasts they will account for 50% of purchasing decisions by 2018. This is a very important travel demographic for the future of your business, especially as millennials value travel and experience over pension security and spend accordingly. We spoke on “How to Make Millennials Happy” at Travel + Social good last week and while we finalize the the follow up piece now, the short answer is that you must look at aligning the experience you provide with their travel habits: think something along the lines of Local, Influential, Social, Mobile, Green, Disloyal (meaning they want instant gratification on reward programs), Spontaneous & Adventurous.
In evaluating innovations in hospitality it’s helpful to consider the biggest problems facing the industry, and then identify the technology that helps solves them. Here are some of those problems and ways hotels have been solving them with innovative technology...
Just as Apple used mobile technology to redefine the notion of customer service in retail, and Uber used mobile technology to transform the meaning of customer service in transportation, mobile technology can similarly improve the provision of customer service in hospitality.