Emerging Markets and Trends: Where are the Next Frontiers?
By Shawn Basler Principal, Perkins Eastman | June 08, 2014
An international hospitality practice, specializing in emerging markets offers creative opportunities, unique challenges, and financial rewards. The pursuit and execution of projects in emerging areas carries with it certain risks that should be weighed before making the commitment to expand into these markets.
The hospitality market has entered an interesting phase of its evolution, with personalization being a rising priority. Whether a luxury brand or a mid-market brand, each touch point of the guest experience is expected to offer some level of personalization. From check-in, room selection, choice of bedding, meals, and activities-everything is expected to be customized, personal, and reflective of the local culture and traditions. Even within the public spaces in a hotel, a personalized approach is the state-of- the-art.
Lobbies evolve during the course of the day, from animated public spaces at daytime to more intimate experiences at night. Seamless technology is also a global trend that is part of the personalized experience. From guest-facing applications to back-of-house management, technology is a permanent part of today's hotels and resorts. Many of these trends started in the boutique market, but there is no segment that is not currently influenced by them. Lifestyle brands are new global norm.
It is not just the hotels and resorts that have changed; the profile of the typical guest has changed. People do not just travel globally for business-they are mixing business with pleasure. Hotels in global destinations have to cater to both sets of expectations: a hotel with meeting facilities and a good restaurant also have to offer a gym and destination spa. Everyone needs to be connected--in their room, the lobby, by the pool. The old cliche of traveling with just a briefcase and eating at the buffet has vanished.
The modern business traveler-millennials, in particular-is much more laid-back and more socially connected, and hotels have to operate for business and pleasure at the same time. Emerging markets are realizing that the line has been blurred between what's considered business and what's considered leisure-and these markets are uniquely positioned to deliver on those expectations.
Many these emerging hospitality markets are expanding because they have been underserved for so long. The world is so much more connected now and people are traveling to many more underserved destinations. Whether to countries in Africa or regions of Southeast Asia, there are many markets where business and economies are emerging, but their cities have inadequate hotel accommodations.