Your Guests' Booking Habits are Changing, Yours Must Change Too

By Ravneet Bhandari Chief Executive Officer, LodgIQ | August 13, 2017

The only consistent aspect in the way people plan travel is that it's constantly changing. Each decade brings new ways for customers to connect with the hospitality experience because of both changes in technology and customer behavior.

Think about it this way, the industry has come a long way since a sign out front touting air conditioning and color TV were enough to attract a customer; that is, if they could find you. It wasn't all that long ago when finding a hotel meant pulling off the road because you saw a sign, or by researching a potential stay by utilizing thick books published each year by Mobile or AAA.

There were also the big annual printed guides from each hotel brand, which eventually morphed into the first hotel internet sites. Of course these sites were essentially electronic brochures and not bookable, but eventually, online booking came into play. At that point, we entered a decade of where travelers spent long hours in front of a desktop computer monitor researching available hotels. Now of course, everything has changed yet again, and it's pushing hoteliers to rethink how they attract guests.

Society Shifts

The simple answer is that smartphones are changing everything. But it's much more than that. To better understand where are now, we must better understand how people's desires and interests have changed in the last decade.

Prior to the Great Recession, culture and society focused more intently on collecting things. In fact, the consumption of things was such a part of mainstream American consumerism culture at the time, even then-President George W. Bush included a line about materialism in a 2006 speech. "And I encourage you all to go shopping more," said Bush. The idea was that by spending money, we could keep the economy going strong.

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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.