Sitting at an airport, reading the March issue of Business Traveler and found an article entitled ‘More Than a Bed’. This got my attention. Harvey Chipkin, the author of this article states; “A booming lodging industry is in the midst of a diversification whirlwind as it targets a new generation of travelers that might be defined by age, mindset or craving for experience.” The B&B Team has blogged, posted articles and spoken at conferences on this subject of the ‘new generation of travelers.’ This booming lodging industry includes B&B, small hotels, boutique motels, the entire gamut of the choices offered by the independent small lodging industry. Are we giving these new travelers what they are craving?
Mr. Chipkin goes on to say that the sameness in hotels has become a negative. Our Inns certainly do not have ‘sameness’. And the experience and the emotional connection with our guests is what we are all about. The hotel industry is working hard and fast to create uniqueness in their décor, more personalized service and offering experiences. They are creating their ‘lifestyle’ brands at a rapid pace. Our industry cannot afford to stand still and watch.
So what can we do to compete and keep up with this whirlwind?
- Keep up with technology. That can include a fresh website that is optimized and responsive. Ease of booking on mobile site is a must. Places to plug in, guest rooms as well as common rooms. Many travelers want or need to be connected at all times for business even while on vacation!
- Social Media. It is important to be involved with as many sites as possible. If you are engaged than you appear relevant. Don’t skimp on your marketing budget, you know the big guys aren’t.
- Update your décor. The old mindset that a B&B is like staying in your grandma’s house is still out there. We must work hard and fast to squelch that mindset.
- Keep an open mind. The explosion of the sharing economy like Airbnb is here and not going away. Many millennials will go to Airbnb to book their lodging. They may not go on or even know about the traditional B&B booking sites. Something to think about. Bashar Wali, president of Provenance Hotels, a small group of boutique hotels, “Airbnb is here to stay; it forces us to be better and offer local authentic experiences.”
- Food is huge. Lighter fare options for breakfast, grab n go for the early riser, afternoon small plates or small bites that are creative and a wow. Liquor license for wine, beer tastings or signature cocktails, why not.
- Stay connected. Association of Independent Hospitality Professionals mission statement is to “…support independent hospitality professionals to succeed beyond their expectation.” The group of supporters is growing. Advocacy, education and networking will be the focus. We all need that.
So is it age or mindset? Yes we want to attract the millennial, they are our next large demographic of traveler. But the older traveler who wants to feel young, that is the mindset. Love this quote from the article; “We all want to feel that we’re still hip, we’re still in. And we’re talking about people in their 40’s, 50’s and 60’s”. That’s me, how about you?
Thanks for Listening,