Winner Winner Chicken Dinner

By Bonnie Knutson Professor, The School of Hospitality Business/MSU | April 08, 2018

To begin my workshops or seminars on consumer lifestyle trends, I often give the attendees a thousand dollars (in Monopoly money, of course) and ask everyone what they would do with it.  Would they go out for dinner? Spend it on a weekend getaway?  Get the iPhone X?  Donate it to charity?  Save it?  Or give it to their kids?

What is always interesting to me and to everyone else is that no two people would use the money in exactly the same way.  And there are little, if any, similarities in spending patterns based on age, gender, income, education, travel patterns or any of the other standard demographic criterion that we commonly use to segment our travel markets. 

But aren't demographics how we tend to segment our guests? The older folks want this.  The Baby Boomers, want that.  And the Millennials want – well, some folks think they want everything.  Even gender differences, rooted in the old axioms that men are hunters and women are gatherers, or that men are from Mars and women are from Venus, are blurring when it comes to what drives consumer behavior.  In other words, demographics don't seem to help us effectively understand how to engage (i.e. market to) the traveling public anymore.  They did 20 or 30 years ago, but not anymore.  Those days are over. 

So if demographics aren't the key, what is?

The answer is emotions.

This truism was recently brought front and center in an online report from Brand Keys.   The article points out what marketers instinctively have known for a long time now:  People buy with their heart and justify with their head.  Perhaps noted neurologist Donald Caine said it best:  The essential difference between emotion and reason is that emotion leads to action while reason leads to conclusions."  In other words, it is increasingly being acknowledged that people respond more to emotional marketing than to rational information when deciding what to buy or where to buy it.  Think about memorable Super bowl commercials that moved people throughout the years.  Coca Cola's Mean Joe Green.  Budweiser's Clydesdale Horses.  Or the 2018 Dorito's Blaze commercial with Morgan Freeman.

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Coming up in December 2018...

Hotel Law: New Administration - New Policies

In a business as large as a hotel and in a field as broad as the law, there are innumerable legal issues which affect every area of a hotel's operation. For a hotel, the primary legal focus includes their restaurant, bar, meeting, convention and spa areas of their business, as well as employee relations. Hotels are also expected to protect their guests from criminal harm and to ensure the confidentiality of their personal identity information. These are a few of the daily legal matters hotels are concerned with, but on a national scale, there are also a number of pressing issues that the industry at large must address. For example, with a new presidential administration, there could be new policies on minimum wage and overtime rules, and a revised standard for determining joint employer status. There could also be legal issues surrounding new immigration policies like the H-2B guest-worker program (used by some hotels and resorts for seasonal staffing), as well as the uncertain legal status of some employees who fall under the DACA program. There are also major legal implications surrounding the online gaming industry. With the growing popularity of internet gambling and daily fantasy sports betting, more traditional resort casinos are also seeking the legal right to offer online gambling. Finally, the legal status of home-sharing companies like Airbnb continues to make news. Local jurisdictions are still trying to determine how to regulate the short-term apartment rental market, and the outcome will have consequences for the hotel industry. The December issue of Hotel Business Review will examine these and other critical issues pertaining to hotel law and how some companies are adapting to them.