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Trend Watch 2014

Here are a few key things you should be thinking about during this exciting New Year to ensure you maximize your profits and make that hotel of yours more valuable.

Monday, January 06, 2014
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Happy New Year! This coming year is going to be an historic high watermark in the hotel industry, but to fully maximize your hotel’s potential you need to have a better understanding of some of the more important trends. So here are a few things you need to be thinking about in 2014 to ensure you have the best and most financially rewarding year possible.

Getting to Know You
No, the hotel industry is not going the way of the NSA, but hotel companies are finally figuring out how to get to know their guests. Presumably in a good way. Also known as Big Data, systems are finally coming to fruition that can better understand who a guest is by looking at brand stay history and spending habits giving operators better ability to analyze their customer base.

It’s been a long time coming – the length of my entire career in fact – but now it seems technology has finally caught up to imagination. For hoteliers this deeper understanding means the potential ability to better create offers and opportunities for guests yielding higher pricing and increased customer loyalty since they are designed around individual customer profiles. This is not just helpful, but a critical next step to combat the trend that younger generations are not driven by brand allegiance as are older folks.

Move over Generation X, the world is pretty much done with you. That’s because the excitement surrounding the future importance of the millennial traveler came into sharp focus. Already they are the fastest growing segment for travel spending dictating hundreds of billions in spending. And that’s only going to increase as they earn more money and travel more for business and leisure. So get ready to rethink how you approach getting business.
This extremely tech savvy generation love check in kiosks, carrying more devices than older generations think is necessary and are always looking out for a deal. So us older people are in a situation where we have to shed preconceived notions of what we believe they care about and get back to basics to essentially start anew with creating hotels and amenities that captivate and attract this generation while also finding ways to not push older people to the side.

Mobile Mania
There is no way around this one. Americans have gone gaga for smart phones and it is only going to become more ingrained in the societal travel decision making process. In fact smartphone usage among travelers has nearly tripled since 2010 to 63 percent and downloading travel-related applications exploded from 19 percent in 2010 to 36 percent in 2013 according to the 2013 Portrait of American Travelers. And tablets too are making huge inroads. Just seven percent of people had them in 2011 and in 2013 it was 43 percent.

So now hoteliers must think about the multi-screen approach to their business building strategy and how customers want to interact with a brand. That means dynamic websites that can decipher the device being used and deliver content in a way that seems organic for that smartphone, laptop or tablet.

Plus the industry needs to think more cleverly about how consumers utilize each device and at what tie of day to create the most effective sales strategy. I’m a big fan of one specific technology hotel companies are rolling that shows smart phone hotel rooms within a five mile distance so on the road guests can book rooms last minute.

Revenue Managers Get Respect
No longer toiling in a dark back room closet, revenue managers are finally becoming industry superstars. Guided by better technology they are helping to get more money out of each sold hotel room. Though certain owners are still nervous about pushing rates too far, smart revenue strategies are getting the industry to record profits.

Now forward thinking revenue managers are tweaking prices throughout the week or even throughout a single day. That’s a far cry when hoteliers used to just set prices a year in advance. In the future this job will only increase in importance as the customer base becomes more diversified and these executives start to create the exciting opportunities afforded by Big Data.

Keeping Your Hotel Up to Snuff
The last few years have seen record numbers of hotels get renovated. While this is good for the industry in general, if your hotel is not up to date that will spell tons of trouble for your ability to earn future profits. Plus, a wave of new construction will inevitably hit now that the industry is breaking records numbers regarding all fundamentals.

So if you haven’t invested in your hotel you are not investing in your future.

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