Wellness and Hospitality Resilience in Economic Uncertainty

By Mia A. Mackman President & Owner, Mackman ES | July 01, 2018

Lessons from 2008

The global impact of the Great Recession between 2007-2008 was extensive and significantly touched the lives of millions of people. In the hospitality industry, customary modes to manage the toll of the recession were often layoffs, budgetary cutbacks and business closures. We witnessed a widespread halt in spending, a slowdown in new development and an upsurge of mergers and acquisitions. These changes also greatly impacted executive management roles, compensation structures, and significantly changed the way people worked, traveled and planned ahead.

Despite today's social and political turbulence, a decade later, the economy appears to have significantly improved. Hospitality and tourism are growing, and wellness-travel is yielding powerful returns. New investments and real estate developments are underway worldwide and there is an upswing in hotel, resort and mixed-use real estate development to meet increasing demands. Airbnb launched in 2008 and continues to thrive and expand its platform with local experiences, business travel, meetings and groups and more, further evolving today's travel dynamics. Hospitality in general, looks dramatically different today, then it did ten years ago.

As markets appear to be trending strong on the surface, what are some of the lessons we can learn from the recession of 2008? First, economic change can be an insidious curve. There are always layers of uncertainty and fluctuations looming in new growth and overstated trends. Second, when times are tough, the number one thing people continue to seek is relief. Personal health, quality of life and feeling good, matter more to people than ever before. Three, being innovative and resourceful can convert to true advantages. Being able to adapt and have the dexterity to surf the waves of change are invaluable business skills.

Economic Uncertainty and Program Diversity

The measure "Economic Policy Uncertainty " EPU has been explored by a team of three people to understand the cross sections of "causes and consequences" related to economic-policy uncertainty and how these potentially impact the financial circumstances and management of different markets in the world's economy. This methodology includes human research as well as raw computerized data to create macroeconomic index types. As new markets emerge from smaller subsets, and public policies and tax laws change, these projections show the range of uncertainty over time. Figure 1 below highlights 20-years of the Global EPU index.

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Social Media: Getting Personal

There Social media platforms have revolutionized the hotel industry. Popular sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube and Tumblr now account for 2.3 billion active users, and this phenomenon has forever transformed how businesses interact with consumers. Given that social media allows for two-way communication between businesses and consumers, the emphasis of any marketing strategy must be to positively and personally engage the customer, and there are innumerable ways to accomplish that goal. One popular strategy is to encourage hotel guests to create their own personal content - typically videos and photos -which can be shared via their personal social media networks, reaching a sizeable audience. In addition, geo-locational tags and brand hashtags can be embedded in such posts which allow them to be found via metadata searches, substantially enlarging their scope. Influencer marketing is another prevalent social media strategy. Some hotels are paying popular social media stars and bloggers to endorse their brand on social media platforms. These kinds of endorsements generally elicit a strong response because the influencers are perceived as being trustworthy by their followers, and because an influencer's followers are likely to share similar psychographic and demographic traits. Travel review sites have also become vitally important in reputation management. Travelers consistently use social media to express pleasure or frustration about their guest experiences, so it is essential that every review be attended to personally. Assuming the responsibility to address and correct customer service concerns quickly is a way to mitigate complaints and to build brand loyalty. Plus, whether reviews are favorable or unfavorable, they are a vital source of information to managers about a hotel's operational performance.  The February Hotel Business Review will document what some hotels are doing to effectively incorporate social media strategies into their businesses.