Continuing the perfunctory countdown, here are the final five trends and events that impacted the hotel industry in 2017 and will continue to be newsworthy throughout the coming year.
- Dining is back! The introduction of computerization to our industry decades ago allowed hoteliers to examine their cost structures with the precise acumen of a proctologist moonlighting as a forensic accountant. This was felt greatest in their F&B departments where margins were paper-thin at best. In the 1980s and 1990s this seemed like the right thing to do – cut the dining options and even consider franchising models. Well, guess what? Fine dining has returned in earnest with hotels all over reclaiming the lost prestige of having the best eatery in town. Hoteliers will continue to realize that good food means happier guests as well as a healthy dose of local support to build buzz.
- It’s no longer just a TV. Nowadays, think of your guestroom screen as a nexus designed to assist your guests with meeting their exact needs and making their stays all the more comfortable. Integration with their smartphones allows for larger-than-life entertainment viewing via such things like casting platforms, business conferencing or instant connectivity with the full breath of operations. With several brands now unveiling apps that can engage in direct communication with a customer’s smart TV then all manner of electronic devices throughout the room, the guestroom screen is singlehandedly helping reshape the hotel experience.
- Cybersecurity is scary. Want to kill your business reputation? Let your guard down and get your guests’ credit card records hacked. Ask Target, Uber, and many others whose share prices tanked when the breach was identified. If you’re unsure of your firewall and security protocols, you must hire an expert as the intricacies of cybersecurity are seldom understood or properly addressed, especially as hackers and phishers become more daring in their methodology. Start by covering your posterior with a full-scale security audit. As well, you must host seminars to educate your entire team on standard protocols in this regard as anyone can unwittingly aid an attack.
- Thank goodness you’re an independent hotelier. It has never been a better time to be an independent hotelier with RevPAR up, a compliant internet providing a means of showing off your property and social media allowing for a peek inside your guest service capabilities. Technology has provided an affordable means of operational excellence and database management as well as many vehicles through which to advertise your property without having to outbid the major chains. The proliferation of hotel brands by the chains – and the subsequent dilution of meaningful branding – has opened up guests to consider all options. Plus, cost-effective online booking is only a few clicks away, so at the very least you are guaranteed some trial through these third parties.
- The sharing economy is never going away! I don’t have enough fingers and toes to count the number of challenges to Airbnb now in the courts in various municipalities around the globe. The call to ‘level the playing field’ is logical, but it’s like firing a blunderbuss as at an Abrams tank. True, all accommodations should contribute to the public coffers in the form of tax contributions, with licenses and safety inspections for all. But demanding that of all the two-bit operators isn’t going to win the war. Hotels are increasingly seen as the more expensive and boring option compared to the short-term rental of a uniquely furnished space more often attuned to the local culture. The way we can fight back is by doing everything that alternate lodging providers do, only better. Tangentially related to this, a conflict is clearly brewing between tourism — the more rooms, the better for the DMO — and hotel associations. And don’t forget, millennials are driving Airbnb’s success. We have a lost generation and will need to work incredibly hard to get them to think of real hotels as top of mind when they next decide to travel.
I hope these ten have been entertaining and maybe even a bit enlightening. Have a great and successful new year!