As we’ve now officially wrapped a very successful year for hoteliers across North America, I’ve assembled my ‘Top Ten’ list of items of trends and events that have had the most profound influence on our industry.
While some of the items proposed for this listicle may have arguably occurred in the years prior to 2017, I have put them here as their effects were predominantly felt over the past 12 months. And to build the necessary level of anticipation, I’ve given these my own ordering of importance, starting from last and working up to the first position.
- The first hotelier to become President. Love him or hate him, Trump is the first POTUS to have his name emblazoned onto the sides of numerous luxury properties both domestically and around the world. For semantics sake, I am told that Thomas Jefferson also owned a small inn, but even if this is the case the scale is incomparable. I chose President Trump for several of his policies unrelated to his namesake hotel chain that have impacted North American hospitality in various ways. Amongst them are foreign visa requirements and the budgeted reduction in corporate taxes.
- The biggest becomes even bigger, and who’s next? The merger of Marriott and Starwood became official in late 2016, and the first few months post-Congressional approval were spent trying to figure out how exactly these two megaliths would play together. During 2017, the union stabilized with the integration of booking engines, sales forces, loyalty programs and many other operational issues that have made it clear that the biggest hotel company in the world is not in fact suffering from a dissociative personality order that many prophesized. The future looks bright and we will undoubtedly see more streamlining in the coming year as well as other big mergers in what is slowly becoming an era of consolidation.
- We have a ‘brand’ for you, too. Building upon the momentum from previous years, every hotel corporation must now have a brand that specifically targets some illusive traveler micro-demographic. Heaven forbid the millennials and the soon-to-be-important iGeneration endure the same hotel brands that their parents used to stay at! And is it possible that the Marriott-Starwood behemoth has over 30 different brands under their corporate headquarters roof? While many corporations are streamlining brands – particularly in the packaged goods sector like P&G and Unilever but also companies like General Motors – our hotel gurus seem to be going in the opposite direction. Perhaps it’s because their business is one of selling franchises, not guestrooms. As they say, this too shall pass, and I predict that we will soon reach our collective maximum tolerance of hotel brands where any additional names prove to hold no value whatsoever.
- Channel parity can only last so much longer. France has determined that channel costs can be factored into pricing. Likewise, the EU is slowly beginning the process of adapting this throughout its representative nations. The issue is brewing in the lower courts of the United States, and it is only a matter of time before the cost of customer acquisition is considered a factor in brand.com vs OTA pricing. If this passes, it will definitely help reinvigorate the push for direct bookings as well as let our revenue managers get even more creative with their channel mixing.
- Hospitality technology goes global. If you have not been to HITEC, crawl back into your cave! Our industry’s adoption of technology is the single most important factor in terms of our long-term success, both by helping streamline back-end processes and upgrading the guest experience so we can all stay ahead of what alternate lodging providers are now offering. While I was a proud attendee of HITEC 2017 held for the first time in my hometown of Toronto, the organizers are doubling down this upcoming year on their worldwide presence with a second outing in Amsterdam as well as another smaller tradeshow in Dubai. While this convention’s main focus is on hotel tech, look for this niche to become increasingly more prevalent in other mainstay gatherings on the annual circuit.