Tourism Trends Affecting Hotels

By Susan Tinnish Senior Strategist, Minding Your Business | June 14, 2015

The way people travel is changing. This article examines some of the travel and tourism trends and discusses the impact on hotels. It provides some fodder to hotels to adapt and understand the mindset of the consumer and reconsider ways to satisfy their needs.

These changes will add to the hotel industry current efforts to respond to new customer demands, increasing reliance on technology (by customers, in hotel marketing, and within hotel operations).

The article examines five trends: the proliferation of leisure tourism categories, customization, local experiences, new ways of connecting with consumers, and consumer expectations around immersive marketing experiences and choices.

Leisure Tourism Categories Proliferate

Millennial travelers, especially those aged 18 to 34 years, have a stronger desire to travel than their older counterparts, according to a survey of more than 2,000 U.S. adults. And 70 percent of these younger adults are more likely to have budgeted money for annual travel than those ages 45 and over (Satchell, 2015). A common way to classify travelers is in categories of leisure and business traveler. Yet the needs and interests of the leisure traveler have proliferated especially in different generations. Consider these newer categories in tourism:

Culinary Tourism

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Guest Service: Empowering People

Excellent customer service is vitally important in all businesses but it is especially important for hotels where customer service is the lifeblood of the business. Outstanding customer service is essential in creating new customers, retaining existing customers, and cultivating referrals for future customers. Employees who meet and exceed guest expectations are critical to a hotel's success, and it begins with the hiring process. It is imperative for HR personnel to screen for and hire people who inherently possess customer-friendly traits - empathy, warmth and conscientiousness - which allow them to serve guests naturally and authentically. Trait-based hiring means considering more than just a candidate's technical skills and background; it means looking for and selecting employees who naturally desire to take care of people, who derive satisfaction and pleasure from fulfilling guests' needs, and who don't consider customer service to be a chore. Without the presence of these specific traits and attributes, it is difficult for an employee to provide genuine hospitality. Once that kind of employee has been hired, it is necessary to empower them. Some forward-thinking hotels empower their employees to proactively fix customer problems without having to wait for management approval. This employee empowerment—the permission to be creative, and even having the authority to spend money on a customer's behalf - is a resourceful way to resolve guest problems quickly and efficiently. When management places their faith in an employee's good judgment, it inspires a sense of trust and provides a sense of higher purpose beyond a simple paycheck. The April issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some leading hotels are doing to cultivate and manage guest satisfaction in their operations.