Insights: Why Multigenerational Travel is THE Emerging Trend

A recent presentation by Peter Yesawich, vice chairman of MMGY Global, highlighted a number of trends and insights for the hospitality market in the near term. While there was definitely a lot of beneficial information presented, one key insight may emerge as the number on trend in hospitality: multigenerational travel.

"Multigenerational travel" or "mutligen travel" most commonly refers to grandparents traveling with grandchildren, but can reflect any number of generations traveling together.

According to MMGY Global, more than 20% of travelers are grandparents. Of those, 40% have taken a trip with a grandchild during the past year. And eight out of 10 times that a grandchild comes along, so does a parent.

As you can see, the market is already well developed. As more affluent baby-boomers retire and begin traveling alongside children and grandchildren, this market will will just continue to mature (pardon the pun!)

Several elements are key to capturing this target market, but most important among them is a well-developed recreation program that meets the needs of these guests collectively. Broadly inclusive cooking classes, walking tours, and lower-impact activities that can be enjoyed by all age groups are key.

For the hospitality market, multigenerational travel represents one of the few demographics that shows extensive growth potential domestically. Beyond just welcoming family guests, multigen represents a new gateway for luxury hoteliers. Traveling alongside affluent parents and grandparents, economically stretched GenX and GenY consumers are discovering brands that can serve them for decades to come as their affluence grows, making this a significant play for the luxury market.

Who writes hotel reviews?

Travelers today are innundated with resources to assist in planning trips. Among the tools are first-hand "unbiased" published on the major booking sites, including TripAdvisor, Booking.com, Expedia and others. 

But, have you ever wondered, "Who writes these reviews, anyway?"

Olery, a reputation management company, has taken a stab at answering that question and the answers are pretty interesting. 

Generally speaking, Olery found that hotels receive about 300+ reviews per year on average and that 46% of travelers post hotel reviews. Reviewer demographics skew slightly towards female guests, with a plurality of reviews being written by 35-49 year-old guests.

Interestingly, guests on vacation and leisure travel – those who are spending their own money – write the majority of hotel reviews. 

 

Why you NEED a Travel Agent

You already know how to use Expedia, Travelocity, and TripAdvisor. You're not an online travel novice. Perhaps you're using more advanced tools like Kayak, Hipmunk, and TripIt to plan your vacations. But are you neglecting to use the #1 travel resource in the world? If you're not using a professional travel agent, then you're putting your time, money, and experience at risk. Travel agents are travel EXPERTS. They've been there, done that, and donated the t-shirt. 

But don't just take my word for it. Here's a Forbes.com post on why you need a travel agent:

There are many, many good reasons, which I will explain. But the bottom line is that they know more than you do, they are better connected than you, they have access to benefits you can’t get otherwise, they can often beat any other prices available (even online, yes), and after you have planned everything, they provide a safety net during your trip that you simply won’t get by booking yourself or buying insurance. Having a top travel agent can also make you an instant VIP – free room upgrades, hard to get restaurant reservations, cutting lines, access to otherwise closed stores and exhibits, private guides, and cheaper – often much cheaper – premium airfares. Here’s the best part: even though most top agents charge fees, in almost every firsthand experience I or my friends, family, and acquaintances have had, travel agents have saved money, often a lot of money, thousands of dollars, and in every case, more than paid for themselves.

Why you need a travel agent – Forbes.com 

The hidden opportunity behind "low hotel occupancy" in China

As hotel companies continue the unprecedented rush to develop properties in China, new analysis shows that the hotel occupancy rate in China to be among the lowest in Asia.

“Hotels in some markets of China are clearly oversupplied in the next three to five years, and they won’t be generating good returns,” said Nigel Summers, Hong Kong-based director at Horwath Asia Pacific, which tracks the hospitality industry. “China has had a very strong demand. The question is whether the increase in demand is going to be big enough to handle all the new hotels.”

Sixty-one percent occupancy is not a strong indicator, however it is must be taken in context. 

According to USA Today, China had 14,100 recognized hotels (those with at least one-star rating) in 2008, nearly double the 7,400 recognized hotels in 2001. By the end of 2012, the number of recognized hotels in China is expected to top 18,000. 

Given the rapid supply expansion and downward economic indicators, it's quite remarkable that the country was able to maintain its 61% occupancy rate so far in 2011 – flat to the previous year.

And therein lies the hidden opportunity behind the "low" hotel occupancy numbers in China.

Hoteliers were able to expand supply at a pace roughly equal to the increase in demand. In other words, expansion in China has done nothing to dilute the market. To the contrary, international brands are reporting 23% growth in RevPAR, with continued upward pressure on both occupancy and rate.

Despite the shock value of "low occupancy" headlining the Bloomberg News report, this RevPAR growth speaks volumes to the hidden opportunity presented by both international and domestic travel in China and why so many are bullish on China. 

 

 

 

 

The Unparalleled Importance of a Crisis Management Plan

As the stories of the Casa Monica Hotel firing an employee for wearing a US flag pin began to break this weekend, I was struck by just how unprepared the hotel and Kessler Collection were for the public relations firestorm which erupted in response to the media coverage. 

(DISCLOSURE: I once worked in Sales & Marketing for the Kessler Collection and, as I said on Twitter this weekend, it was troubling to see former colleagues in such a position.) 

Instead of arguing the merits of uniform policy versus patriotism versus two-year history of wearing the pin, it's important for hoteliers (and businesses in general) to take note of how this incident escalated from a policy decision to an immeasurable public relations incident.

Buoyed by (literally) tens of thousands of tweets, facebook posts, and hotel reviews through social media channels, the story grew from a local Jacksonville story on Thursday into a top five feature on nearly every broadcast and cable news channel in just two days time.

As this groundswell grew against the Casa Monica Hotel's decision, the Kessler Collection was notably silent on the issue. Neither the hotel nor the company responded to requests for comment by the local and national media. Neither the company nor the hotel made any posts to their official websites or social media pages to address the questions. In fact, the only tangible response the company seemed to undertake was to attempt to delete a number of strongly worded posts and comments from the hotel's Facebook page.

The Casa Monica Hotel finds itself at the center of a textbook public relations crisis – albeit one that it should have reasonably anticipated and managed – that threatens to damage its brand. The lack of preparedness and response beg the question: Does the hotel or company have a crisis management plan? 

Crisis management is not and never should be an extemporaneous endeavor. It involves forethought, resources, planning and practice. There are thousands of books, blogs, degree programs, etc to pull from but to briefly summarize, there are three active stages in a crisis – all of which need management:

  1. Before all hell breaks loose
  2. All hell breaks loose
  3. After the crisis

Before all hell breaks loose is the "simple" phase, although it is the one that requires the most work. The "voice" of the company must to be defined. Rules around when different members of the organization will be made available to the media must be written. Responses to reasonably anticipated situations (accidents, acts of God, etc) should be drafted. The channels by which the responses will be routed should be tested. And – most importantly – the entire act of responding to a crisis must be simulated and practiced by the entire organization. 

Once all hell breaks loose, which is where the Casa Monica currently finds itself, the work investing in stage one will begin to bear fruit. The most critical elements are the seemingly contradictory goals of speed and calm. Timely statements and media responses must be effectively managed to turn (and eventually tame) the crisis. 

After the crisis, there are two parallel, urgent paths – reputation management and response review. The company must review the root cause of the crisis and how it was responded to by the public relations team. Efforts must be undertaken to repair the brand's image both internally and externally. 

 

For those of us who are not involved in the Casa Monica / Flag Pin debate, it's important that use this opportunity to learn the unparalleled importance of having an effective crisis management plan. The inability to deliver timely statements and respond to requests for comment can do immeasurable harm to your business.

We will all have crises to face. The key is to remember the old Boy Scout motto: "Be Prepared."

 

 

Guests for Life: It's how you make them feel

The one fundamental truth in providing a luxury travel experience is best summarized by Dr. Maya Angelou's famous quote:

"People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."

In creating guests for life, our overarching mission must be to ensure that guests have an experience that captures their emotions and stays with them long after they have checked-out.

In the end, it's how you make them feel. 

 

The State of the Chinese Luxury Market

Affinity China has unveiled some amazing statistics in a recent study of the Chinese luxury consumer that point to not just the growth of the luxury sector in China, but also the global reach of the affluent Chinese. 

Among them:

  • The average age of the Chinese luxury consumer is 20 years younger than consumers in the US or Japan
  • In 2010 there were over 1 million millionaires in China, up from just 300,000 just four years before
  • In 2010, Chinese travelers made 57 million trips abroad. That number is expected to be 100 million by 2015
  • More than 50% of the luxury goods purchased by Chinese are bought while they are traveling overseas
  • On average, Chinese travelers spend $7,000 each when traveling

There are more fascinating factoids contained in this short video overview of the Chinese market. 

 

 

For more on Chinese luxury travel market, including how to target and host this growing demographic at your hotel, please read my previous post "Travel Trends for Chinese Millionaires". 

Behind-the-Scenes: How Ritz-Carlton trains it Ladies & Gentlemen

Great insight on the selection process and behind-the-scenes training of employees at The Ritz-Carlton hotels. 

The making of Ladies and Gentlemen

The philosophies and lessons being taught are ones that we could all do with 
taking on board, not just in our professional lives, but in our personal ones as well.

But the most important thing I discovered was that the Ritz-Carlton experience — its methods, its quirks — are 100% genuine.

 

Tipping Guidelines: How much to tip

Have you ever wondered if you should tip a service worker or how much is an appropriate tip? You're not alone. Ask a group of ten friends what an appropriate tip would be for service and you'll likely get ten different answers. 

Especially when traveling, there are many situations when tipping comes into question. It is most important to remember that while tipping is meant to be a sign of appreciation for a particular service, it should first and foremost be accompanied by respectful treatment.

 

– Tip if someone serves you personally.

– Tips go up according to circumstance, such as a delivery in bad weather, or if a customer sits for a long time at a table, preventing a server from seating another diner and getting a second tip.

– A tip may be warranted in what's normally a no-tip situation if a job is extra tough and done well, such as a snowplower who has carefully cleared a long, steep, curvy driveway.

– If you don't want a service, don't be afraid to say so: "Thanks, I'll get my own bag."

– If you do use a service, tip.

– It's OK not to tip if tips aren't a large part of a person's earnings; coming back is tip enough.

– Traditionally, business owners aren't tipped, but it's OK to offer a tip if they wait on you personally; they can refuse. Small gifts are an alternative.

– If you are unsure whether to tip, speak up; it's OK to ask what's customary.

 

As for how much to tip, I use the following industry guidelines in determining how much to tip:

Taxi drivers: 10 percent to 15 percent

Beauty professionals: 15 percent to 20 percent

Restaurant servers: 15 percent for good service, 20 percent for great service, 10 percent for poor service

Pizza deliverers: $2 a pie is generous

Concierge: $5 for special service

Valet: $2 when you pick up a car, more if extra services are requested

Room-service waiter: 15 percent of the bill

Bartender: 15 percent of the tab, no less than $1

Sommelier: 15 percent of the cost of a recommended bottle

Housekeeping: $2 to $5 per night. Leave the tip on the pillow, in a labeled envelope or at the front desk. It's important to indicate that the money left is a tip, as housekeepers are often trained not to accept anything not specifically indicated as a gratuity. 

Hotel Bellman: $1 per bag, no less than $2

Spa technician: 15 to 20 percent

You don't have to tip in a free shuttle, but tip the driver $1 per bag if he or she helps you with your luggage.

 

Finally, always treat servers and staff with respect. A tip, even a generous tip, is never an excuse to disrespect someone or to treat them dismissively. Showing kindness to servers is just as important as adding a gratuity.

 

 

 

 

Study: 61% of smartphone users would book travel on mobile devices

A new Mojiva study being reported by EyeforTravel reveals that 61% of smartphone users would be comforable booking travel on their iPhone or Android.

 

Purchasing_travel_on_mobile

The study, which was based on responses from almost 200 mobile users on the Mojiva network, shows that while 64% of users would be comfortable spending up to $500 dollars via their phones for travel, nearly forty percent of smartphone users would be comfortable booking travel in excess of $500. 

 

Source: Eyefortravel