Where Does a 10,000-pound Elephant Sit?
By Bonnie Knutson Professor, The School of Hospitality Business/MSU | December 01, 2013
Two questions for you: First, where does that 10,000-pound elephant sit? You probably remember the answer... Anywhere it wants to. The second question involves an elephant too, but it may be one with which you're not as familiar.
...posts average daily sales of $1.8 billion
...will have direct sales of $660.5 billion this year,
...is an essential part of lifestyle for 45% of U.S. adults,
...employs 1.3 million people, nearly 10% of U.S. workers,
...represents 4% of the Gross National Product, and
...has an overall economic impact that will exceed $1.8 trillion in 2013?
This elephant is not, of course, the four legged variety complete with trunk, tail, and a brain that never forgets. It's an industry. And it's an industry that has posted a compound annual growth rate during the past 35 years.
Is it Technology? No. Automotive? No. Financial? Not even close.
Nope, it's none of these high-profile industries. It's restaurants. It's the collective impact of those 616,000+ places where we get our morning latte, pick up kids' meals on the way to soccer practice, and celebrate anniversaries, birthdays, and graduations. So just what do restaurants have to do with marketing your hotel? A lot. While we many not think of restaurants much beyond our hotel's coffee shop or dining room, or even our favorite neighborhood grille or pizza place, the fact remains that, collectively, eateries are a bellwether of consumer and marketing trends. By watching what is happening in this industry, we can gauge what our guests will be looking for from our hotels.
So if I can paraphrase a line from poet, Elizabeth Barrett Browning: Let me count some of the ways…
For example, long ago restaurant operators recognized the fact that consumers are looking for more than just food and service. They want unique experiences. So Hard Rock Cafe gave birth to the concept of themed restaurants. Las Vegas built hotels that can take you to Paris, Venice, Ancient Rome, or Egypt without needing a passport. Automobile dealers have designed showrooms so that they can display car models merchandised with palm trees, water skis, and beach balls. Department stores are embedding designer specialty shops on their cookie-cutter floors to replicate the feel of individual boutique shops. There are sporting good stores with rock climbing walls, computer repair companies whose technicians dress like "geeks" and arrive in VWs, and super stores for the home where homemakers can experience (and buy) a complete room, from drapes for the window to drawer pulls for the cabinets. The drive towards unique experiences has not been lost on the lodging sector either and Las Vegas doesn't hold a monopoly on providing guests with distinctive hotel experiences – as evidenced by the growth in the boutique segment.