CEO Kyle Buehner: Look beyond traditional barriers to fuel success
What are the trends that the hospitality industry will be talking about in 2017? We’ll see a renewed focus on growing occupancies in 2017 after this year’s slowing occupancy rate and the expected rise in supply. One significant difference in this next cycle will be the need to protect and grow profitability while increasing occupancy. No longer will it be acceptable for hoteliers to increase occupancy at all costs; the direct channel will become a focal point for higher profit bookings. A compounding factor next year will be the need to attract new guests, which are always more difficult to book than a repeat stay. MMGY research talks about the “Fragility of Loyalty” as more travelers seek unique experiences, and I think this will erode repeat stays. Hoteliers will need to align their reservation sales, marketing and revenue management teams, and align each department’s systems and data to improve their collective ability to attract, nurture and book more new guests directly.
What are the trends now that will be fads in 2017? In 2016, all the talk is about how millennials are driving our industry’s need to deliver unique experiences. Marketers love targeting, and the media world has traditionally used age to help us invest our precious resources wisely. But I think a change is upon us; the vastly growing number of social connections between people is breaking down traditional barriers— distance, generation, wealth, etc. People are now able to share what’s important to them more broadly and instantly, beyond their generational cohort. Typecasting travelers inappropriately will lead us astray, so this trend of thinking millennials are the only demographic group seeking unique experiences will become a fad in 2017. It’s a broader societal movement that cannot be ignored in hospitality.
The Internet of Things is a nascent space. What are the expectations for it in 2017? I expect The Internet of Things (IoT) will largely remain a promise in 2017. The I.o.T. is fragmented and expensive, and requires standardization before adoption can reach a meaningful level in hospitality. The promise has caught hotelier’s imaginations; more personalized and relevant on-site guest service by delivering location specific services, promotional messages and offers, for example. I think the next year will see further development of a variety of point solutions as imaginations continue to run wild and the industry works through identifying what’s really worth investing in versus what deserves to be forgotten.
If you had the super power to make it happen, what ability, not currently available, first in the hotel space, then in everyday life, would you create? How powerful would it be to predict the future! Exceptional guest service is a byproduct of exceeding expectations. With a view of the future, we could anticipate guest desires and needs, and improve our ability to serve guests. In everyday life….think of the benefits! I’d win the lottery, plot another wildly successful business strategy and be able to buy my wife the perfect gift every year.
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This article was originally posted in Hotel Management Magazine’s November 2016 issue.