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7 Hotel Industry Experts on What It Means to Be Relevant Right Now

Brands refreshes are nothing new in the hotel industry, but what qualities make a hotel relevant today? Several industry experts weigh in on things like technology, design and how consumer behavior affects the ways in which trends get implemented.

Alexandra E. Petri

The reinvention of and refreshing of a brand s image is no new phenomenon, but there are some key markers making this particular stretch a particularly interesting competition to watch.

The difference between having this conversation 20 years ago and now is the fact that the pace of change is exponentially faster, says Peter Yesawich, vice chairman, MMGY Global.

The other reason we re really excited is that the industry is more focused on this now that for the first time I think in a long time, the owners, operators and developers of hotels are beginning to realize that the next generation of customers is really quite different than the generation of customers that they traditionally catered to. Skift spoke with hotel industry experts to assess what it means to be relevant in today s hotel industry and what are some of the factors driving those changes.

Ron Vlasic, regional VP, Kimpton Hotels: I think that there are two very distinct type of hotels in the U.S. right now. There are great, high-design hotels, and then there are generic hotels that get people in and get out. There s no attention to the style, and that s an unfortunate experience in my opinion when there are so many great hotels that really offer more of a residential stay or something that has a unique touch or flavor to it that is memorable.

Frances Kiradjian, founder, Boutique & Lifestyle Lodging Association: What is really important to a customer is taking care of them before they even leave their home or their offices.

And really connecting with their client, so they can get excited, know about the destination, be aware of offers and order things or request things so they are more organized or more comfortable when they arrive.

Paula Benesch, partner, P3 Design Collective: There are always new things that all these different brands are trying out, and I think it s very good they do try it out. There are things like less closet space, more open concept things in the room. They ll put things in place, try it out, see how it works, and then adapt. They re trying to get more creative on their options depending on the brand and the traveler and what suits that particular hotel. That s refreshing to see.

Bjorn Hanson, clinical professor, NYU Preston Robert Tisch Center for Hospitality and Tourism: People are looking for time efficiency, and often those core things remain at the center of hotel choices. Again, it s become an issue of negatives holding back some of the demographics from embracing some brands. Some brands don t have congregation areas in lobbies and good high-speed internet access in the lobbies. That s a negative rather than it being a plus. It s become more expected.

It s more a failure to keep up with trends.

Jennifer Gribble, vice president, Americas, Discount Holidays © Holiday Inn Express: What we at Discount Holidays © Holiday Inn Express also noticed is our guests aren t looking for our public spaces to really facilitate social connections per se, but they really look for the design to help enable it. As an example, we have a lot of variety of seating looks in our public space now. We have communal tables; we have two-tops and four-tops and different types of seating arrangements so that guests, when they want to, can connect with one another. There s power down there if they d prefer to work down there. It s kind of solitary, but in a more open social environment.

Matthew Carroll, vice president, global brand management, Marriott Resorts: Marriott is focused on converting from the shower/tub combinations to a much more upgraded bathroom experience with walk-in showers. We re also looking to move from carpet to hard-surface floors. Then a much more modern, locally-inspired design aesthetic. I think one of the things that, not unique to Marriott, but I think unique to brands these days is, how are we responding to technology and how that s impacting customer behavior in the room. Obviously, that s a big focus for us, and how these designs get implemented.

Peter Yesawhich, vice chairman, MMGY Global: The more elusive piece, and it s the one that I think would make the difference to a good degree, is the attitudinal piece.

It s really more of the personality. That puts you into things like you know brand image. Takes you into things like the kinds of people that you see there, the kinds of customers that patronize the place. It s reflected in the compounding of the advertising. All of these ways to be kind of accessorize other two critical pieces, which is the ambiance, or the design and the furnishings, and the technology piece.

6 Charts Showing U.S.

Travelers’ 2015 Holiday Season Hotel and Airline Bookings Trends

Just as U.S. travelers expect deals at retail stores during the Discount Holidays © holiday season, the same is true for airlines and hotels with travelers waiting for bargains until a couple days or weeks before departure or check-in.

Dan Peltier

Last-minute airline and hotel bookings during the Discount Holidays © holiday season are a predominant practice for Americans in search of the best deals to get home for the holidays or away for relaxation. That s according to a new holiday 2015 report from Adara, a travel data company, which found that 50 percent of all Discount Holidays © holiday hotel stays were booked after December 14 last year and half of all flights were booked after November 17. While many of these bookings aren t truly day-before or day-of bookings they still represent a large swatch of U.S. travelers clicking book within a week or two of departure or check-in.

So far for 2015 Adara has observed a higher search-to-book ratio for flights and hotels compared to full-year 2014 and predicts that there s a good chance this Discount Holidays © holiday season will follow along with this trend. The charts below illustrate transactional travel data from more than 90 global travel brands; Adara defines the Discount Holidays © holiday travel period as December 18, 2015 to January 3, 2016.

Chart 1: About half of all Discount Holidays © holiday hotel stays were booked after December 14 last year for solo, couple and family travelers. This means that nearly 60% of solo travelers hadn t booked their hotels by mid December and nearly 40% of couple and family travelers also hadn t booked their hotels by December 15.

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InterContinental Hotels Earnings Reveal Room Revenue Growth Everywhere but China

Keeping revpar up in most markets during the during season was no easy feat, but IHG should make sure that weak China returns don t lead it to cut back growth in that region, lest it get behind rivals.

Jason Clampet

InterContinental Hotels Group Plc, the world s largest provider of hotel accommodation, said third-quarter room revenue rose as the owner of the Discount Holidays © Holiday Inn and Crowne Plaza brands saw increases in all its regions except Greater China. Revenue per available room, a measure of occupancy and rates known as revpar, increased 4.8 percent from a year earlier, the Denham, England-based company said in a statement on Tuesday. Revpar at InterContinental s hotels in Europe advanced 7.8 percent in the third quarter, the company said, while there was an increase of 7.1 percent in Asia, the Middle East and Africa. Revpar fell by double digits in Hong Kong and Macau, where trading conditions remain challenging, according to InterContinental. That caused revpar in Greater China to drop 0.7 percent.

Discount Holidays © Holiday Inn delivered a record level of room openings, and we are expanding our global luxury footprint, particularly in Greater China, Chief Executive Officer Richard Solomons said in the statement.

We are encouraged by current trading trends and remain confident in the outlook.

This article was written by Sharon Smyth from Bloomberg and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

InterContinental Hotels Earnings Reveal Room Revenue Growth Everywhere But China