The hotel industry forecast for 2017 is bright, but not without a few clouds on the horizon. Yes, the experts are expecting that guests will spend 1.2 billion nights in U.S. hotels, and that revenues overall will be up over four percent. But while demand is still good, supply now significantly exceeds it (to the tune of a total possible 1.8 billion nights). And then there’s that little matter of Airbnb and its disruptive ilk, increasingly syphoning off consumers and now also targeting bread-and-butter business travelers.
So how can hotel operators keep the positive momentum going, and ward off threats from the new category intruders? By staying on top what the American Hotel and Lodging Association 2017 Hotel Trends Survey identified as the top trends and to-dos in the hotel business.
1. Keep Hotel Life All About Lifestyle
Short-term, non-traditional lodging is hot, and here to stay. But it’s also limited in what it and individual homeowner hosts can provide. In essence, Airbnb provides a place to stay. Hotels provide that, plus support for your lifestyle, anywhere you go. So, for the stronger-than-ever group of fitness aficionados, eighty-five percent of hotels have workout facilities. For those inseparable from their pets, seventy-five percent of hotels welcome dogs and cats. For families, ninety-two percent welcome kids for free. The upshot? Make sure you’re providing customers a place to temporarily lead their lives in their style, and not simply giving them a place to lay their weary heads.
2. Sustain Your Business Via Sustainability
Successful hotel operations have come to realize that green initiatives aren’t for do-gooders, they’re for doing good business. Guests appreciate (and increasingly prefer) environmentally responsible hoteliers. As a result, ninety percent of hotels now use energy-efficient lighting. Seventy-seven percent have water-saving programs, while a nearly equal percentage employs building-wide energy management systems. And ninety-four percent have a linen reuse program, saving natural resources and labor costs. Guests are increasingly looking for your green certifications and they can easily be earned through simple actions like the facility-wide use of paper products with high quantities of post-consumer recycled content. In short, what’s good for the environment is even better in terms of efficient, cost-effective hotel operations and enhanced customer relations.
3. Combine High Touch with High Tech
Hotels have always been about service, and increasingly, that personal touch is also expected to come with high-tech empowerment. In the luxury hotel category, eighty percent of properties employ mobile service apps. Sixty-five percent provide streamlined mobile check-in. And nearly all provide internet access, with a growing majority including it for free. So keep honing your personnel’s people skills, but also equip your guests with the digital tools they want and need.
4. Give Props to your Property
The AHLA research showed that, for all the digital wonders now available (and required), the condition, security and amenities of your physical plant are all of paramount concern. The concern for safety has pushed the use of security cameras to an all-time high, and resulted in over ninety percent of hotels being deemed safe enough for FEMA certification. The desire for style and entertainment is reflected in the significant number of hotels upgrading their design (twenty-nine percent) and including live music or even nightclubs (fifty-five percent of luxury properties). And while the issues of property quality and amenities are being increasingly well addressed, there is still considerable room for improvement, providing further opportunity for differentiating your offering.
5. Give to Receive
More and more, especially when it comes to Millennials, consumers want to do business with brands that try to make a difference. Hotels are tapping in to this motivation by giving, giving, giving. Eight-five percent have a formal charitable giving program. Seventy-two percent have in-kind donations. And sixty-one percent support employees in volunteering. So find your purpose, connect with your cause, and you’ll likely find a better connection with guests, too.
These are just a few ways to give your hotel staying power. Watch this space for more ideas to come.