These are tough times for the hospitality industry. To survive and remain profitable, hotels must address four emerging mega trends:
Brand Trumps Location. While today's travelers consider location to be "extremely influential" in their choice of hotels, they will increasingly be influenced by brand. Recognizing the importance of pre-stay, stay and post-stay service will boost customer loyalty. An upscale hotel chain has up to 200 million guest touch points annually. This presents hotels with ample ability to deliver on their brand promise.
Growth of China, India, Gulf States. Here, domestic and international travel will rise dramatically, thanks to reduced airfares and the pent up demand of a new middle class eager to travel. Between India and China, tens of thousands of new hotel rooms will be required. That said, travel and tourism expenditures in the U.S.--both domestic and outbound--are expected to double from $830 billion to a whopping $1.6 trillion by 2015.
Travelers are Aging. Baby Boomers in the U.S. and Europe will comprise an expanding demographic with lots of disposable income. These active seniors will live longer and travel more. The percentage of the population aged 65 and over in Europe is expected to rise substantially by 2015. Europe alone is expected to deliver over 700 million travelers by 2020.
Travelers Expect Technology. The hospitality industry has traditionally fallen behind other industries in embracing technology. IT investments, particularly in reservations, distribution, loyalty programs, and customer relationship management must be adopted with a greater sense of urgency. In the U.S. and Western Europe, more travelers used the Internet for travel information than asking friends and acquaintances. Finicky, demanding travelers expect hotels to offer increasing choices in online room selection and check-in, personalized bed options and in-room food and beverage offerings.
For an added perspective, check out the rants of this frustrated business traveler:
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Alex A. Kecskes has written hundreds of published articles on health/fitness, "green" issues, TV/film entertainment, restaurant reviews and many other topics. As a former Andy/Belding/One Show ad agency copywriter, he also writes web content, ads, brochures, sales letters, mailers and scripts for national B2B and B2C clients.