Hotels 2020: Responding to Tomorrow’s Customer and the Evolution of Technology

By Rohit Talwar CEO, Fast Future Research | August 14, 2011

Hotels 2020: Beyond Segmentation

The future of travel and tourism is being driven by a complex set of converging forces which are forcing the industry to think about how they might reshape the experience. As hoteliers respond to increasing economic turbulence and start developing strategies for the next decade, it is critically important to scan ahead, understand these key external drivers of change and identify the emerging opportunities that could shape the strategic agenda for the sector. The Hotels 2020: Beyond Segmentation study set out to explore these ‘future factors’ and explore the implications for hotel strategy, brand portfolio, business models, customer targeting and innovation. The study placed particular emphasis on the impact of increasing personalization, emerging technologies and a changing economic outlook.

We used a range of primary and secondary research techniques to identify key drivers of change, emerging opportunities and evolving guest and traveler expectations. We also scanned widely for examples of how the hotel sector in particular was already innovating, for ideas on what future innovations might look like and for technology developments that could impact the industry. We used these to suggest a range of future scenarios covering how guest behavior might change, what the implications might be for the services, facilities and technologies hotels would require and how hotel groups might evolve their strategies, business models and market positioning. We then tested guest and industry responses to these scenarios in a global survey with just over 600 respondents.

Drivers of Future Traveler Behaviour

The role of travel in our lives is changing. In a survey conducted as part of the study, 83% of respondents strongly agreed or agreed that ‘People will view travel as a right rather than a luxury and consider it an increasingly important part of their lives’. As individuals, we are facing increasing pressure on our available leisure time, which is driving the desire for unique and personalized experiences. We are also not completely logical and consistent in our behaviours. On the one hand we want constant connectivity, yet on the other we are looking for stories to tell our friends about the remote new ‘unspoilt’ destinations we’ve discovered!

Concerns over environmental impacts of tourism, and greenhouse gas emissions from transport in particular, are encouraging travelers to think more carefully about their ecological footprint. In the study 82% agreed that ‘Environmental considerations will play an increasing role in the choice of business and leisure hotels’. For tourism destinations, environmental factors are forcing a rethink of how many tourists to allow in, what to charge and who to target. Political upheavals and security concerns are also leading some travelers to rethink the desirability of visiting certain locations. Finally, innovation is reshaping the travel experience by - for example - enabling shorter flying times.

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Coming up in March 2018...

Human Resources: Value Creation

Businesses must evolve to stay competitive and this is also true of employment positions within those organizations. In the hotel industry, for example, the role that HR professionals perform continues to broaden and expand. Today, they are generally responsible for five key areas - government compliance; payroll and benefits; employee acquisition and retention; training and development; and organizational structure and culture. In this enlarged capacity, HR professionals are no longer seen as part of an administrative cost center, but rather as a member of the leadership team that creates strategic value within their organization. HR professionals help to define company policies and plans; enact and enforce systems of accountability; and utilize definable metrics to measure and justify outcomes. Of course, there are always new issues for HR professionals to address. Though seemingly safe for the moment, will the Affordable Care Act ultimately be repealed and replaced and, if so, what will the ramifications be? There are issues pertaining to Millennials in the workforce and women in leadership roles, as well as determining the appropriate use of social media within the organization. There are new onboarding processes and e-learning training platforms to evaluate, in addition to keeping abreast of political issues like the minimum wage hike movement, or the re-evaluation of overtime rules. Finally, there are genuine immigration and deportation issues that affect HR professionals, especially if they are located in Dreamer Cities, or employ a workforce that could be adversely impacted by federal government policies. The March Hotel Business Review will take a look at some of the issues, strategies and techniques that HR professionals are employing to create and sustain value in their organization.