Stuart Sinclair, Senior Manager at Equiom Hospitality, works with hotels advising them on financial operations within the hotel industry. Ahead of one of the largest events in the hospitality industry calendar, International Hotel Investment Forum in Berlin, Stuart pin points today’s top five challenges for this market and explains what hotels must do to stay ahead.
The hospitality industry should see technology as an opportunity and not a threat. Embracing technology can introduce benefits including reduced costs, increased revenues and a much more personalised customer experience. Also bear in mind that millennials and Generation Z, who do truly embrace and see the value in tech, are fast becoming the dominant demographic in the travel market. Technology to consider includes virtual concierges, guest apps, check-in and hotel services through mobile devices, faster and more reliable broadband, tech lounges and personalised messaging.
Consumers want more from a hotel – an experience not just a stay. A great experience is where a positive emotional feeling has been created between the hotel and the guest. Often this is achieved by personalising and de-commoditising the service that guests receive and for this investing in training and creating a service-centric culture is vital. Creating communal spaces that are genuinely enjoyable to be in and also capable of supporting the needs of business travellers will create positive feelings. Also try to think local. One of the best ways of differentiating is to create connections between the property and the local community. For example, sourcing from local speciality suppliers and creating an app that acts as a guide to neighbourhood events, exhibitions and spaces.Above all put yourself in the shoes of the guest and think about what a great experience would really look and feel like.
In a recent survey of 200 hotel managers, the biggest challenge was cited as recruiting new and retaining existing staff. For UK hotels in particular, Brexit will make it even more difficult to attract workers from overseas. Some ideas to help overcome this challenge include employee referral programmes, clear career paths, upskilling and access to training programmes as well as creating a positive and rewarding working environment.
Serviced apartments and platforms like Airbnb (which can often be as much as 50% cheaper than a hotel stay) are continuing to be a major and ever-growing threat. Business travellers in particular appreciate the ‘home from home’ aspect of an apartment with access to kitchen and private living area amenities. To compete, hotels need to focus on what makes their property unique and special, by delivering excellence in the areas the competition can’t.
There’s no denying sustainability is a hot topic and hotels need to keep the environment top of mind. This includes considering how bed linen and towels are washed (the frequency of which and the chemicals used), the disposal of rubbish and even the materials used to build and furnish the hotel.
The travel and tourism sector is fast growing and rapidly changing, making it an exciting and healthy trade to be a part of. As long as hotels develop the right model for growth, welcoming technological advances and embracing trends, they will flourish in this booming industry.
This article has been carefully prepared, but it has been written in general terms and should be seen as broad guidance only. The article cannot be relied upon to cover specific situations and you should not act, or refrain from acting, upon the information contained therein without obtaining specific professional advice. Please contact Equiom to discuss these matters in the context of your particular circumstance. Equiom Group, its partners, employees and agents do not accept or assume any liability or duty of care for any loss arising from any action taken or not taken by anyone in reliance on the information in this article or for any decision based on it.