If there’s one thing we all know it’s that change is constant. Keeping up with hospitality trends – particularly in an industry where consumers’ expectations of a flawless experience are high – can be in itself a full-time job. But keeping the eye on the big trends and shifting accordingly can yield a large impact on future success.
According to a recent report, four “catalysts of change” could impact travel and the hospitality industry: economy, consumer mindsets, enabling technology, and platforms. When we look at these factors, we see one common thread that comes as no surprise to anyone in the industry: it’s all about the guest experience. Here’s our take on these four trends:
Travel is often one of the first items to be cut from household budgets when times get tough. Experts say that the U.S. economic outlook is healthy and the unemployment rate will continue to drop – which is good news for the hospitality industry. However, the report states that the industry is vulnerable to the risk of external events, including cyber-attacks and food safety issues. We would also add that companies need to watch for weather anomalies and global and national events that affect consumer confidence. We’ve recently seen how both of these can affect the hospitality industry.
Everything today is about customization and personalization – a “have it your way” world. Are you delivering a truly personalized experience for every guest that comes through your door? This is a tough one, especially when personalization can come at a cost, and personal preferences are just that: personal and unique to that guest and can change depending on circumstances. Today, the guest journey starts well before they book a stay at your hotel. It’s important to remain focused on the overall journey, from the second they visit your website or view your social channels, to the time they enter your space, to the moment they check out – and of course, the follow up after their visit.
How are you using the incredible amount of data that you’re collecting (or perhaps didn’t realize you were collecting) to enhance the guest experience? The personalization that we talked about above can be driven by technology and your existing data. It will allow you to customize the guest’s experience, often in real time and well before they enter your door. What messages are you sending before their trip? How are you following up? What impression are you building in their minds? Is your website and mobile site easy to use? These are all important considerations on the guest journey.
Earning loyalty points was once the bee’s knees for travelers. There is a growing need to look beyond simply giving points (which remain a valuable loyalty perk!) to providing “experiences” as a show of loyalty. Guests have more options than ever; what is going to make them choose you? Are there unique partnerships that you can form, such as with restaurants or entertainment venues around your location? You can use the guest’s own data to understand what they enjoy most and delight them with a favorite snack or beverage the next time they visit. These things don’t need to be expensive; it’s the unexpected gesture that a guest will remember, and hopefully share with their friends and family.
We all know that earning guest loyalty is the ultimate goal of everything we do. That means following hospitality trends, truly understanding what guest's want, and personalizing their experience to the best of our ability. Providing a great overall experience is — and will continue to be — the ultimate indicator of loyalty, because after all, that’s why we’re in this industry.
 “2017 Travel and Hospitality Industry Outlook.” Deloitte Center for Industry Insight. Deloitte LLP. Accessed September 9, 2017. https://www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/Deloitte/us/Documents/consumer-business/us-cb-2017-travel-hospitality-industry-outlook.pdf.