Guest Habits Change

By Michael S. Wasik Chairman, CEO, Interim CFO, Roomlinx Inc. | January 29, 2010

In the sixth century BC, Greek philosopher Heraclitus observed "Everything changes but change itself." Twenty-six centuries later, it's still every bit as true.

Everything changes, and that certainly applies to today's hotel customers. Travelers, whether veteran business road warriors, or families enjoying leisure travel, are more selective, value conscious and well-informed than ever before. They also have a whole new set of expectations.

When it comes to handling change, Heraclitus maintained that there are two ways people generally react: they fear, resist or try to ignore change, or they endeavor to understand, embrace and find ways to benefit from it.

Hotels have a unique opportunity now to embrace the new customer reality and capitalize on it in ways that will differentiate their property's brand, rise above the competition and develop customer loyalty. To explore how to take advantage of this opportunity, let's start by examining more in-depth how your guests' habits and expectations have changed.

Today's New Traveler

Coming out of an economic recession, your guest is cost-conscious and more careful in his spending choices. He's been conditioned by recession-driven discounts and rate reductions to expect more for his money. He's very likely to be an informed comparison shopper.

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Eco-Friendly Practices: Corporate Social Responsibility

The hotel industry has undertaken a long-term effort to build more responsible and socially conscious businesses. What began with small efforts to reduce waste - such as paperless checkouts and refillable soap dispensers - has evolved into an international movement toward implementing sustainable development practices. In addition to establishing themselves as good corporate citizens, adopting eco-friendly practices is sound business for hotels. According to a recent report from Deloitte, 95% of business travelers believe the hotel industry should be undertaking “green” initiatives, and Millennials are twice as likely to support brands with strong management of environmental and social issues. Given these conclusions, hotels are continuing to innovate in the areas of environmental sustainability. For example, one leading hotel chain has designed special elevators that collect kinetic energy from the moving lift and in the process, they have reduced their energy consumption by 50%  over conventional elevators. Also, they installed an advanced air conditioning system which employs a magnetic mechanical system that makes them more energy efficient. Other hotels are installing Intelligent Building Systems which monitor and control temperatures in rooms, common areas and swimming pools, as well as ventilation and cold water systems. Some hotels are installing Electric Vehicle charging stations, planting rooftop gardens, implementing stringent recycling programs, and insisting on the use of biodegradable materials. Another trend is the creation of Green Teams within a hotel's operation that are tasked to implement earth-friendly practices and manage budgets for green projects. Some hotels have even gone so far as to curtail or eliminate room service, believing that keeping the kitchen open 24/7 isn't terribly sustainable. The May issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some hotels are doing to integrate sustainable practices into their operations and how they are benefiting from them.