Features Calendar 2023
Though it's difficult to ascribe any affirmative value to the pandemic, it did push the hotel industry into a new era of digital transformation. Out of necessity, hotels quickly adopted all forms of mobile technology, as a means to minimize the risks of infection and to maximize a seamless guest experience. The goal was to reduce guest touchpoints but still deliver access to all property services, while maintaining social distancing measures. As a consequence, mobile technology providers created next-gen products and services like never before. In addition to mobile check-in/out, mobile room keys, and contactless payment methods, hotels are now implementing branded concierge apps, guest messaging platforms, enhanced translation devices, and website chat bots. Smart rooms, voice and facial recognition, robotics, and A.I. technologies are on the near horizon. The January Hotel Business Review will report on how some hotels are integrating mobile technologies into their operations to provide their guests with a ground-breaking digital experience.
Social media has evolved into an indispensable medium for the hospitality industry. It has forever altered how hotels communicate with their customers and it has redefined how advertising and marketing are conducted. Currently, the biggest social media platforms are Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube and TikTok. Each has their own appeal and demographic. In order to reach the users of an individual social media platform, it is necessary for hotels to tailor their content to each platform's audience. For example, LinkedIn is more business-oriented so content might be directed to conference organizers, meeting planners, travel agencies, etc. Facebook has a more mature user base so they might be looking for family vacation packages, cultural experiences, or recreational sightseeing trips. TikTok is popular with a younger audience who might want to know about concerts, sporting events, and gaming competitions, while Pinterest and Instagram focus on exquisite visuals and aesthetics. The February Hotel Business Review will document how some hotels are successfully integrating social media strategies into their operations.
Hotels have always struggled with the task of attracting and retaining qualified employees. At any given moment, hotels are consistently understaffed which makes providing quality guest services a persistent challenge. Additionally, as a consequence of the pandemic, there has been a mass exodus of workers who left their employers and haven't returned. This phenomenon has become known as the Great Resignation. In one month alone last year, over 900,000 employees left hospitality jobs, affecting all areas of operations including frontline workers, restaurant and housekeeping staff, and hotel management. To overcome these challenges, Human Resource departments are implementing a variety of solutions. First, they are reassessing their wage and benefits guidelines in an effort to become more competitive. They are also leveraging digital technology to attract and retain talent, and to improve the employee experience. The goal is to centralize communications, enhance employee engagement, empower independent decision-making, and expand educational opportunities. The March Hotel Business Review will explore what some HR professionals are doing to address these critical employment issues in their respective departments.
When guests check into a hotel, they have expectations of quality customer service. They expect to have their needs met in a professional manner, they desire a certain level of comfort, and possibly even made to feel a little special. This is important because satisfied guests are more likely to return and to become true brand ambassadors. But what if instead of merely meeting expectations, hotels created a culture of service that was intent on exceeding expectations in every conceivable way? What if frontline staff were trained and empowered to provide guest services that demonstrate a willingness to always go the extra mile in order to please their guests? This culture is exactly what some hotels are creating in their operations. From helpful, smiling, welcoming staff to the quality of a room's comfort and conveniences. From discovering a guest's special needs and enthusiastically fulfilling them, to making some amenities free of charge and offering random upgrades. The April issue of the Hotel Business Review will explore what some hotels are doing to enhance and enrich their guest services.
According to the United Nations World Tourism Organization, hotels are accountable for 1% of global emissions. This number will continue to rise as development increases, which is why sustainability initiatives are so important. It's also a primary consideration for ecologically-minded travelers. According to Booking.com's 2019 Sustainable Travel Report, 70% of global travelers say they would be more likely to book an accommodation knowing it was eco-friendly. Given these priorities, hotels are tasked with confronting a myriad of challenges. For example, water scarcity is a global issue that affects more than 40% of the world's population. On average, hotels use 400 gallons per room per day, so it is essential that efficient water stewardship programs are in place. Managed tourism is another issue hotels are addressing. In some areas, it is vital to curb rampant and uncontrolled tourism which is severely taxing local lands and resources. The May issue of the Hotel Business Review will report on what some hotels are doing to integrate sustainable, eco-friendly practices into their operations.
The Sales & Marketing department is responsible for maximizing a hotel's revenue by developing programs to increase occupancy and to make profitable use of its meeting and leisure facilities. Increasingly, managers are utilizing sophisticated digital technology to help them achieve those goals. Virtual Reality is being integrated into booking engines which provide potential guests the opportunity to tour a property from afar, including wedding, event and food & beverage facilities. Voice Search has also become a popular marketing tool. Using smart home devices, it's now possible for customers to book hotels entirely through voice commands. Chatbots are becoming more ubiquitous as hotels seek to refine their online customer service. Chatbots can answer common questions, push key marketing messages, increase direct bookings, and even guide customers through the booking process. Finally, hotels are already preparing for the debut of the Metaverse and planning how sales and marketing departments will fully participate. The June Hotel Business Review will focus on the sales and marketing strategies that some hotels are adopting and how they are benefiting from them.
Hotel spas have never been so popular. The global wellness market is estimated to be in excess of $1.5 trillion with an annual growth rate of 5 to 10 percent. Consequently, spas are continually developing new programs, products, tools, and environments to meet the needs of guests who are seeking total body health and wellness. One trend that spas are embracing is a multiplicity of ways to reconnect with nature. Spas are moving beyond the “garden” model and going deeper into the countryside and forest, providing immersion in a wilder natural setting. Wild swimming, forest bathing, foraging, outdoor massage, and hiking trails are concepts that are being designed into the spa journey. Some hotels have built individual cabins deep in the forest for sauna, bathing and massage treatments, and others are offering bedroom suites which are located in cabins or tree houses away from the main hotel. The July issue of the Hotel Business Review will report on these and other developments, and how some hotel spas are integrating them into their operations.
As always, hotels are looking to leverage their food & beverage operations to increase sales. One strategy being implemented is a greater emphasis on upselling. For example, a pastry chef might host a chocolate making class once a week. Or a chef might offer a signature dining experience in the hotel's most luxurious suite. Other add-ons like a romantic dinner for two, picnic basket lunches, or pre-packaged meals for business meetings can increase sales significantly. But perhaps the most reliable way to please guests is with their morning meal. According to a recent Google survey, 42.4% of guests chose breakfast as the hotel feature they most looked forward to. In addition to more traditional fare, some hotels are adding healthy options to their menus like breakfast parfaits, superfood bowls, and custom smoothies. Other hotels are offering complimentary breakfast, an all-day breakfast menu, or breakfast in bed. The August issue of the Hotel Business Review will report on what some hotels are doing to expand and enhance their F&B departments.
The pandemic gave rise to the advent of fully virtual events but now, as in-person meetings are resuming, hotel group managers are adapting to a new hybrid model. In this model, in-person live events must also have a digital component. It is a means to expand a meeting's reach by allowing a virtual audience to participate. In a real sense, meeting planners must now organize their events for two audiences - one in-person and one virtual. The in-person event strives to create a unique experience that is focused on safety and networking, while the virtual experience drives engagement before, during, and after the event. It is a “one event, two experiences” design that highlights the location's value but multiplies its reach through virtual technology. For hotels, providing a seamless event for clients has its challenges - proper staff training, investment in the necessary equipment, and more complex coordination and planning with meeting organizers. The September Hotel Business Review will report on what some hotels are doing to adapt to the new realities of group meeting business in their operations.
The future of hotel revenue management lies in the adoption of ever more sophisticated software and technology, especially as it pertains to forecasting and pricing. For revenue professionals, the Age of Big Data has arrived. Managers are utilizing systems that employ leading-edge algorithms and machine learning, along with business analytics and data visualization tools. These tools communicate complex information more effectively, allowing managers to understand the key components driving demand and revenue. They have the ability to analyze real-time external and internal data, produce reports, and integrate information - all on a single platform - in order to improve performance. Managers are also utilizing geographic information systems (GIS) which incorporate geographic data into forecasting. GIS also help decision-makers identify information in a visual way that cannot be detected through traditional data analysis. The October issue of the Hotel Business Review will report on how some hotels are integrating Big Data into their revenue management strategies.
One major consequence of the pandemic was the necessity of employees to transition to a work-from-home situation. Millions of workers found themselves abruptly exiled from their offices, with a need to set up a workspace in their kitchen or basement. Today, because of advances in communication technology, the remote work phenomenon is widely accepted and people have discovered they can work from anywhere. As a result, hotels are adapting by creating spaces to accommodate those travelers who wish to remain connected to the office while on the go. Lobbies are being transformed into co-working spaces where guests can work, make calls, participate in video conferences, and charge their devices. These spaces also function as social and networking centers. Some are converting to fabulous bars and live entertainment venues. The lobbies also appeal to local remote workers who seek alternative places to work, thereby promoting community engagement, reinforcing brand loyalty, and increasing food and beverage sales. The November issue of the Hotel Business Review will report on these and other notable trends in hotel architecture and design.
The legal environment of the hotel industry is forever evolving and there is always a myriad of issues for hotels to address. One ongoing challenge for hotels concerns cybersecurity and their legal exposure should a major hack or breach occur. Because hotels offer Wi-Fi services to the public and because they collect and store substantial personal information on their guests, it is imperative for hotels to have advanced security systems in place. In the event of a breach, they must be able to prove they took every reasonable measure to protect the sensitive information of their guests and to comply with all privacy laws. Another legal issue involves the licensing and training of all employees who serve alcohol at any establishment that sells alcoholic beverages and permits customers to drink on site. Though this law is presently confined to California, it is expected to be enacted by other states in the near future. These are just a few of the issues that will be reported on in the December issue of the Hotel Business Review.
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