Comment: Keep the change

Hospitality professionals love to talk about trends, but all talk and no action can lead to the alienation of a powerful demographic

Claudia de Brito
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Claudia de Brito

Change is the only constant. This is especially true in a service-related industry such as hospitality. As is often the case, millennials are leading the charge when it comes to shifting consumer expectations and, according to a report published by the Cornell Center for Hospitality Research, millennials will represent 50% of all travellers by 2025.

Access to free WiFi is not an added extra, it’s a requirement and has been for a while. So, if you’re going to shell out for a pricey high-speed connection, you might as well use it to improve operational efficiency as well as the guest experience. Advances in technology have made it possible for consumers to have as little interaction as possible with actual humans. With the popularity of Deliveroo, online shopping and automated bag drop off kiosks at airports, it’s clear that people like avoiding people. Although I’m not saying that we should have robots running hotels, using smartphones and specially created apps to access services within a property such as check-in, room selection, digital keys and room service is now commonplace.

Talking about its e-service which launched earlier this year, Pedro Deakin, president of operations at Jumeirah Group said: “Jumeirah E-Butler is a forward-looking service to connect with our guests in an increasingly digital world. Guests can connect with us in their own time, wherever they are. Through improved dialogue, we get a better insight into guests’ personal preferences and can tailor our service individually to each guest.”

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Technology can also be used to help to improve guest safety. Indian hospitality startup OYO Rooms recently launched an SOS button on its app, to help users at alert authorities during an emergency.

Sustainability has been a buzzword for years but we’re finally starting to see properties put their agendas into action. A property's approach to sustainability and environmental initiatives is increasingly becoming a deciding factor for guests when choosing where to stay. Outrigger Laguna Phuket Beach Resort implemented a ban on single-use plastics across the property as part of its OZONE initiative to safeguard the world’s oceans and island environments. 

The property’s OZONE ambassador, Leah Matters, said the initiative, still in its first phase, is to hold management and hosts accountable and eliminate single-use plastics from the resort: “We have received a lot of positive feedback on social media platforms,” said Matters. “Guests are posting pictures and congratulating Outrigger. They are telling us, that they have chosen our resort based on our commitment to the environment and our efforts in trying to eliminate single-use plastic.”

Trends are becoming expectations at breakneck speed. It’s no longer good enough for hoteliers and their properties to keep up. They must identify the tendencies that add value to their offering and take the lead in implementing them in a way that makes sense both operationally and experientially.

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