Five Fresh Hospitality Reads for the Week

This week, as many begin to focus on budget planning and creating strategic plans, I'm reading more about how the hospitality industry continues to evolve in the social media era. Here are five fresh hospitality reads:

The Future of Travel: Eight Things You Need to Know | Marketing Magazine
Great piece on the critical importance of innovation in the hospitality industry.

STUDY: 44% of Luxury Guests Choose Hotels through Word of Mouth
You know it. I know it. And yet… it continues to be overlooked. For all that you are doing through sales, marketing and PR, the most critical component of hospitality remains guest service.

How Luxury Hotels Mine Social Data in the name of Comfort
Great reminder that (a) there is so much information available online about each of us and (b) some hoteliers are using that public data about their guests. I think there's a lesson in this piece about the importance of balancing hospitality/privacy.

Airlines testing new ways to Board Planes
All aboard (faster!) Also… 100 times YES!

How TripAdvisor wants to own the Travel Cycle
TripAdvisor has evolved from a review site to an efficient booking engine. Now the TripAdvisor teams wants to be the provider of choice for local area information and concierge service. I will be interested to see if crowdsourced hospitality data can ever truly scale.

Another clear indicator of how important it is to know your audience and to continue to refine your message to each guest.

For more hospitality trendspotting, follow me on Twitter.

Three Luxury Hospitality Reads for the Week

Here are three short, compelling reads regarding luxury sales and marketing in the hospitality segment. I found each of these very poignant for guest service and hotel sales in our industry:

 

Twenty percent of Virtuoso's customers drive 71% percent of sales
This statistic speaks to the old adage of how important it is to take care of your best customers, especially in the luxury hospitality segment.

Biggest risk to luxury brand dilution? Partner Offers
A new study finds that luxury brand cross-marketing is a dangerous tightrope, bringing in new customers when done well but risking market share for both brands when poorly executed.

Four Seasons Hotels are active on 393 social media channels
Is there an effective limit to the "be where your customers are" mantra that has driven CMO and social marketing? Also, is there a limit to the effectiveness of "be where your customers are" in the luxury segment?

 

Interested in seeing more about luxury hospitality sales and marketing? Follow me on Twitter

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.

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. 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

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

 

 

Luxury brands are big fans of Facebook, other social media sites

High-end brands have woken up awakened to the power of social media because of some compelling statistics. "Households earning over $100,000 a year are on the Internet 23 hours a week and on Facebook six hours a week," said Bernie Brennan, co-author with Lori Schafer of "Branded: How Retailers Engage Consumers with Social Media and Mobility." And 80 percent of households with annual incomes of more than $240,000 use social networking, primarily Facebook, said Brennan. Luxury brands now realize "there's a new way to communicate and if retailers or brands are not engaging in social media, they're missing an enormous market opportunity," he said.

Some of the world's most exclusive names are quickly becoming the world's most engaging brands. Why? It's simple really. Facebook is the social media home to millions of affluents.

These statistics are the sirens song to luxury brands:

– Households earning more than $100,000 spend 6+ hours per week on Facebook

– 80% of households earning more than $240,000 use social media, primarily Facebook

Luxury brands are realizing the intrinsic value of having both affluents and aspirational customers interact with their brand and products at a time and place of their choosing.

So it's little wonder that BMW, Gucci, Chanel, Ritz-Carlton and Louis Vuitton have jumped headfirst into social media, particularly through Facebook.

Burberry has used direct engagement – such as asking Facebook users to submit photos and videos of themselves carrying the signature raincoats and handbags – to boost "likes" to more than 6 million.

One facet of social media metrics that is vastly underappreciated, however, is influence. When a user "likes" a brand, they broaden the degree of influence for that brand.

Even if the user themselves is aspirational and cannot yet afford the brand, generally users will have another 10-20 Facebook users within their network that can afford the brand. By "likeing" the brand, they are spreading the luxury brands influence directly to all of the users within their network. When that "like" shows up on their wall or stream, it serves as a call to action for other users to engage with the brand.

For example, if I "like" a new car from BMW, it will post to my wall. It will be seen by my entire network and the peer influence fundamental will prompt my friends to "like" that BMW and engage with the brand. If the average Facebook user has 130 friends, then Burberry's 6 million fans potentially influence tens of millions of Facebook users.

Luxury brands, with historically smaller traditional footprints and touch points, are finding a home on social media. And with 83% of affluents now making purchases online, Facebook and social websites have truly become the new showcase for the world's premiere brands.