7 key trends emerging in the hospitality industry
Tuesday, April 01, 2014
The hospitality industry is growing steadily and surely, and the outlook is better than ever with new hotel and lodging businesses expanding the horizons every day.
Increasing business has also resulted in healthier job figures, which is one of the surest signs of growth and recovery. While 2012 saw an average addition of 30,000 new hospitality jobs per month, the figure rose to 55,000 per month in 2013.
In many ways, 2014 is poised to bring far-reaching changes to the hospitality industry, and some of them have already been evident in first-quarter performances. Some distinct trends have manifested themselves, which shows that the industry is perfectly poised to change with the times and offer state-of-the-art services to customers.
A quick glimpse below will provide a look at what is shaping the present and future of the hospitality industry:
1. Rankings will rule
To ride and survive the new-age hospitality wave, businesses must respect and win the ranking war.
The Internet has changed our lives in more ways than we can imagine. Just as we spend hours researching options, we spend equal amount of quality time on weighing the pros and cons of each of those options.
Industry reports have found that 93 percent of hotel consumers are seriously influenced by reviews. With sites with Yelp and TripAdvisor, these are all organic reviews and user-generated online ratings that can make or break a business.
Some users will leave bad reviews, but more often than not they are inclined to leave realistic and positive feedback as well. This means hotels must beef up services to match (or beat) the competition to harness the power of these rankings.
2. Social reputation will matter
Online presence in this digital age is important. So along with user-generated content — which is slated to be the next big thing in social — there also needs to be a dynamic, interactive and attractive online profile that will beguile and impress effortlessly.
A static page with a few links will no longer work. Instead businesses need to work with developers to create platforms where guests can post their own content and help build up your social reputation. A brand with a more flexible site and platform will bring on more visitors, more loyalty and more information sharing. Needless to say, your content needs to be rich and powerful to keep up with this social storm in 2014.
3. Customer service should create a wow factor
To reach the apex of this organic brand-building process, hotels need to reevaluate their services and beef them to match the highest standards. If you expect your customers to give you genuine positive feedback, then the customer service — in every aspect of the hospitality business — has to create a definite wow factor.
While no-frills services are coming up to combat the economy and the competition, there has also been a trend for the distinctive. We can see these in the many innovative offers like online ordering, destination specials that partner with local wineries and eateries, digital in-room dining experiences for busy executives, having famous chefs as brand ambassadors and strategic tie-ups with various service providers to make their experience enjoyable.
4. Global outlook is important
Global travel has opened up, and some of the best revenue figures can be anticipated from this arena. According to The U.S. Department of Commerce, global travel to the U.S. in 2014 will result in approximately 84.6 million visitors, a 3.7-4.2 percent growth from 2013.
This means that hospitality providers will have to gear up to meet these demands and challenges, not just to hit the right profit brackets but also to ensure that global customers get the best of experiences during their stay. The U.S. has lagged behind other countries in recent years as far as global travelers are concerned, and this is the right time to rectify that trend and swerve the figures back to us.
5. Sustainability is the keyword
Increasing awareness and changing industry norms have made eco-friendly choices a standard rather than a brand-building exercise. With 5 billion feet of hospitality space that consumes around $4 billion energy in the U.S. alone, the need for green practices and sustainability standards is imperative.
The good news is that 62 percent of users now expect hotels to be environmentally responsible and have solid environmental programs in place. These programs have to make deep-seated impact to lessen their carbon footprints and not just make cosmetic changes to impress the crowd. One must remember that the consumer is aware and informed these days, and only the best efforts will bring in results.
6. Tech savvy is a given
A recent survey shows that 87 percent of guests consider Wi-Fi to be a free amenity. This is an era of instant communication. Consumers enjoy high bandwidth Internet at home, at work, when they are shopping and even when they are driving.
Of course, they are going to expect supersonic and high-speed Wi-Fi connections during their hotel stays as well, and for free. With business travel and corporate conferences bagging the bulk of the bookings this year, slow bandwidth is going to result in disastrous reviews and therefore loss of revenues eventually.
7. Millennials lead the pack
Millennials will definitely lead the hospitality market with their increasing need to explore beyond boundaries, willingness to pay for the best of comforts and daring experiments in cuisine and culture. The world is opening up, and the millennials are promising to make this expansion wider and deeper with their own brand of travel and hospitality demands.
From glamping and gourmet to high-tech ambiences, the hospitality industry has to prepare for this new generation of clients. Hotel and travel will be positively affected by their spending power and in the long run, the profile of their businesses will also shape up their service portfolios.
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