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Navigating The Ever-Changing Landscape of Hospitality: Trends & Opportunities
By Giovanni Angelini - Exclusive for 4Hoteliers.com
Monday, 8th January 2024
 

Giovanni Angelini, is a senior and well respected professional within the Hospitality industry world-wide and with a wealth of experiences of over 50 years acquired in 3 Continents, Asia in particular. A former executive and the CEO of the Shangri-La Hotels and ResortsExclusive Feature - The hospitality industry thrives on constant evolution, fuelled by a kaleidoscope of shifting trends, emerging technologies, and evolving customer expectations.

While some trends fade like fleeting fads - and are a waste of time and money - others leave a lasting imprint, reshaping the very fabric of how we travel, stay, and connect.

It's within this dynamic ecosystem that savvy operators have the opportunity not only to survive but thrive, captivating both customers and those who orchestrated the magic, the people.

Yes, people/employees and customers are placed at the same level as one cannot do without the other.

Essentialism: A shift in values

Travel and tourism, having weathered some of the storms of the past, is set to soar to new heights but have to accept that there are shifts in the spending patters.

Gone are the days of ostentatious extravagance. Today's travelers, fuelled by economic, geopolitical, and environmental concerns, are embracing essentialism, seeking mindful experiences that prioritize value over excessive luxury. As an example, the value-added packages are preferred over a percentage of the retail rates.

While demand for exclusivity and top-end products will remain, most travelers have rediscovered the wisdom of "less is more". Demand for budget-friendly options is expected to increase in most markets and segments.

Shared vision: leading with purpose

In this ever-shifting landscape, effective leadership is paramount. Setting a clear vision, instilling purpose, and ensuring seamless alignment across all levels of the organization are key to navigating change successfully. Now, more than ever.

Empowering teams to actively participate in shaping the company's identity and responding to new trends unlocks their potential and fosters innovation. And it goes without saying that quality in leadership is indispensable.

Responding to the basics

Some trends transcend the fleeting and become foundational pillars of the industry. Personalized experiences, booking efficiency, competitive pricing, value perception, dynamic revenue management, staycation/bleisure packages, remote work, access to healthy food options, simplified e-payment, and an unwavering commitment to safety and hygiene are just a few of the expectations in the new normal following the global pandemic.

Integrating technology such as Cloud PMS, innovative booking platforms, AI tools like ChatGPT facilitating communication and promotions, biometric authentication, and many others, can help optimize operations and enhance guest experiences. But what about the buzzwords like "AI" and "Metaverse"? How do they fit into your vision? It's crucial to approach these advancements with clear goals in mind so you can achieve meaningful integration that truly benefits your guests, your people, and your business.

The increase in sustainable and responsible, travel and accommodation is here to stay and is set to become a major trend. Have to accept that adopting a low-carbon lifestyle and practices is necessary and rewarding for all.

Securing adequate liquidity has been and will remain a major objective of any leader as it is essential for company positioning and strategic growth. On the positive side, indications are that inflationary costs, first, and interest rates, later, are expected to come down during the year and this should be of help to many organizations.

The rise of wellness (clear opportunity)

It is widely acknowledged that a fundamental societal shift towards wellness and self-care is taking place among travelers worldwide. From physical, mental, social, emotional, and health therapies to preventive medicine and rejuvenation programs, travelers are increasingly seeking experiences that nurture their well-being - and it's fast becoming an expectation. Sleep therapy is definitely becoming in high demand and it is directly related to the key services offered by the industry.

Wellness presents a significant opportunity for hotels to cater to the growing demand, offering unique programs and partnerships with wellness experts. It's also interesting to note that wellness services and products are, in most cases, not price-sensitive.

Longevity, the concept of living a longer and healthier life, is becoming the biggest buzzword.

Brand assessment

In a market saturated with brands, it's crucial to cultivate a distinct identity that resonates with your target audience. Ask yourself: Is your brand too generic, or does it have that unique look and feel? What is your brand story? What is your brand personality? Do you know if consumers recognize your unique position? Who are your customers, and what are their wants, needs, preferences, and expectations? How do your customers rate you?

Is your brand trying to be everything to everyone? Appealing to too many audience segments? Failing to generate a good share of repeat business? Do you comply with your brand promises? How do you measure consistency? how does your team perceive your brand? are all players within the organization aligned with what the brand wants to achieve?

With this in mind, there must be clarity and understanding of who you are, what you stand for, and what value you wish to convey.

It's well accepted that the ultimate test of a great brand is the amount of premium a guest is willing to pay for your product compared with your closest competitors (RGI) and the amount of business booked via your website and channels that you control.

Loyalty

Loyalty is the lifeblood of any successful business, and the hospitality industry is no exception. Recognizing individual preferences, consistently delivering quality service, and offering attractive - and, most importantly, flexible - reward programs foster long-term relationships with guests.

Designing and continuously updating a loyalty program is one of the most critical tasks of any leader. Successful loyalty programs are one of the most effective tactics in marketing and sales activities. It's imperative to constantly monitor and manage the bookings made through this essential channel, ensuring you differentiate yourself from competitors.

Training, training, training

Remember the old saying, "Hire for attitude and training for skills"? Hospitality is a people-driven industry, where success hinges on the passion, skills, and knowledge of your team. Investing in training and development empowers your employees, keeps them motivated, and equips them to handle any situation.

Think of it as a double investment: one in each team member's personal growth and a direct boost to your organization's standing. Ditch the one-size-fits-all approach. Regular training sessions, workshops, and seminars should be tailored to each role's specific needs.

A seamless blend of theoretical knowledge and practical application is key. This way, your team stays ahead of the curve, ready to navigate any hospitality challenges with fitness.

Foreseeing what's next

No matter how big or small your organization is, you have to be prepared for the countless trends and events that will change the landscape. Searching and responding to the potential of new businesses/markets and sources of business has to be the key focus within the organization. In this context, the return of Chinese outbound travel to international destinations may be an opportunity for some.

Anticipating shifting economic or social conditions, geopolitical upheavals, advancements in technology, new products/competition, and evolving workforce dynamics is crucial for long-term success. Making predictions is never easy but must take some view on the future, otherwise there will not be progress.

Leaders who can proactively strategies and adapt to those changes - and foresee them - will be best positioned to navigate the ever-changing terrain and secure their place in this dynamic industry.

Giovanni Angelini
A 50 year veteran of the Hotel-Hospitality-travel industry with a wealth of experience acquired in 4 Continents, Asia in particular. A long term resident of Hong Kong and Retired Chief Executive Officer of Shangri-La International.

A board member of several large corporations and member of many industry related and quality management organisations. Founder of Angelini Hospitality, providing consultancy and advisory work to developers and hotels-travel-tourism organisations.

Recipient of two Honoris Causa (Doctorate) in Business Administration and in Global Business Leadership, four Lifetime Achievement Awards, the 2006 Corporate Hotelier of the World, Maestro del Lavoro (2014) and of several other recognitions and awards.

www.angelinihospitality.com

Book: Winning Hospitality - Practical advice for sustainable success (Kindle Edition)
In Winning Hospitality, Giovanni Angelini condenses around 60 years of international hospitality experience into tips and advice for hotel operators and owners, senior and young executives, students, teachers, and anyone striving for excellence in the demanding and dynamic world of travel and tourism planning and management.

The text serves as a vital reference for anyone seeking to develop the business activities, teams, brands, skills and hotels necessary to delight guests, customers, employees, and owners alike – today, and for many years to come.

This is strictly a 4Hoteliers.com exclusive feature. Reproduction in any shape or form without explicit permissions is prohibited.

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