The end of 2016 is quickly snuggling up around us. As many of us look to close out the final quarter, we start to anticipate new beginnings for the next. Our recent attendance at HX 2016 had shown us that many brands in hospitality are sharing the same challenges for the upcoming year.
Hospitality is an industry that highly prides itself on creating the ultimate guest experience. They surround consumers with creature comforts of home, relaxation, opulent luxury and a way to soothe the stress of traveling. But in doing so, we forget the struggles they face behind the scenes.
Today’s world keeping up with the massive shifts in technology is a mandate, it’s no longer a choice. The new generation that holds the highest buying power, Millennials are at the forefront of this movement. They will be controlling the consumer markets for many years to come.
At the same time there are brands who have started to consider the next generation, The Alpha Generation. Alphas right now may only be 6 years old but remember there are 2.5 million born globally every week. They are a generation that will grow up only knowing touch screens, ipads, smartphones and probably in the near future we can add virtual, and augmented reality to that list. All this said, it brings us to some of the next wave of trends facing the hospitality industry.
Utilizing Virtual & Augmented Reality
Hotels are looking at this very real opportunity to incorporate into their marketing strategies. The mega Marriott chain is trying to come up with innovative ways to bring VR into each individual room whether through gaming or simply entertainment. Other brands have talked about using it to help boost group sales, by virtually showing an event space. While this technology is still in it’s infancy it’s definitely not to be overlooked.
As consumer demands grow for instant satisfaction, brands are starting to utilize robots on some of their properties. An interesting way is when a guest calls the front desk for extra pillows or toiletries they would be greeted at the door by a robot who brings this up to them.
Data, Insights & Collection
It doesn’t matter the industry you’re in but collecting data and information has become the obsession. Brands want to know if what they are doing works. When you gather these insights the benefit is that you can retarget these consumers at a later time. There is software out there that gathers information about a customer through their Facebook page. When this customer arrives onto your property the software can let you know if they are celebrating an anniversary, birthday or any kind of special event.
Translating the Customer Experience Online
The customer experience is always something that is done effectively face to face but the biggest question becomes how do we translate that onto our digital platforms? Many have taken to chat bots on their own website to instantly help customers online.
Competing with OTA's (Online Travel Agency)
Third party platforms such as Priceline, Expedia, Travelocity and the likes have become a source of competition for many in the hospitality world. If your property doesn’t feature itself on these platforms you risk having open inventory. If you do feature then you have to pay a commission to these OTA’s. This one will be an ongoing challenge that’s probably here to stay.
Future of Hospitality in Cuba
Recently Cuba has become a bit more lax, allowing companies to do business there. It is a country that many are vying to expand especially in hospitality. During an open discussion at HX 2016 some posed questions such as how will they build a team in Cuba who is versed in hospitality? Where in Cuba would be an ideal place to start? What will it be like working with the Cuban government? These questions are still somewhat unanswered but the demand will be there as more and more travelers make their way to Cuba.