We subscribe to a publication called Hotel Business. This and other sources are a great way to keep abreast of the hotel business, the trends, the predictions and in general what they are thinking. Some interesting observations recently came from the Luxury Management Executive Roundtable Series. This is a yearly gathering of big hitters including; Rock Resorts International, Destination Hotels & Resorts and Vail Resorts Hospitality and more. The number crunchers at the roundtable reported a strong come back in the luxury market in 2010 and the segment is rebounding very quickly for 2011.
Here are some highlights from the discussions. I think they will sound familiar. After the numbered quotes I have made comments relating to the small lodging industry, our side of the hospitality pendulum.
1.“We see individuals willing to buy a bit more for a memory or emotion now.”
2. “Thank god for the transient (hotel talk for the non- business customer). They have stuck with luxury. The future is bright.”
- Talking with some innkeepers who own luxury properties, they have expressed an increase in bookings for spring and early summer. One property is up 48% from last year. Are they coming back because they recall the memory and emotion and want to relive the experience? I think yes.
3. “These guests (transients again) are more of a mix than in years past. Now it is all about the experience. It’s all about culture and authenticity.”
- Properties that are branded well and offer an authentic experience have and will do well. Marketing this experience is all important and always will be. Check out Rick’s blog, ‘Build Your Brand’.
4. “The whole mindset of people from the tech industry with money is all about experience. They are very intellectual, and want no pretense, but they do want a great experience.”
- It isn’t just the ‘people from the tech industry with money,’ but all tech savvy people with expendable income who want no pretense and want a great experience. The B&B Team refers to this group as the i-Guest™, who is informed, intelligent, independent, imaginative, interested, internet-savvy and identified. Some of you may have heard Rick and Peter speak on this subject at PAII national and regional conferences as well as state association conferences since 2009!
5. “Green programs are a big draw for luxury guests. Green is part of the new luxury.”
- For more insights on this subject read my blog, ‘Green Luxury’.
6. Today we need to look at the core lifestyle elements that represent the customer. We need to give people what they really want.”
- The core lifestyle of our customers is also changing and we do need to become aware of these changes. This has been the message of PAII’s Better Way to Stay campaign from the beginning. The Gen X & Y lifestyle is different from the boomers. We need to be aware, not fearful and judiciously change to attract them.
7. “Amenities and features always come up. But if we ask what they want versus what they’ll pay for, it’s different. We have to understand what they’ll pay for and offer that.”
- Amenities we offer also change. It is not just ‘what is hot and what’s not’ but what guests are looking for and expect today. Remember when nobody had TV’s in their guest rooms. It was thought of as a hotel/motel amenity. Luxury double showers are now a real draw today.
8. “Customers are always looking for value. It’s what you build into your room rate. They aren’t as rate sensitive, as they are sensitive to what’s included in that rate with value-adds.”
- Our guests are looking for value and good innkeepers provide great value. The challenge is communicating the value we provide. This is also an area the Better Way to Stay campaign promises to address, getting the message out to a wider customer base.
9. “At the end of the day, what sets properties apart aren’t amenities, but service. It’s 95% service and 5% product that differentiates hotels. You have to have a perfect service delivery.”
- Service, another main stay of our industry. It is not just 95% service and 5% product but great personalized service and individualized tailored products and amenities that differentiate the small lodging industry from hotels.
Every one of these comments and observations speaks to the core values of innkeepers. They speak to what good innkeepers strive for, work for and struggle with every day. Can we compete with Goliath? I think the answer is yes. We are the Better Way to Stay but not if we exist in a vacuum and don’t stay aware of what the hotel industry is up to and more important what guests expect and are seeking today. A pendulum won’t swing without a bit of a push, so when it comes our way we better be ready to grab it.
The B&B Team has been talking about many of these points when we speak blog and consult with current innkeepers and with aspiring innkeeper groups in our seminars. (I just wish we got the big bucks that I know those hotel CEO’s do!) For further reading on this subject, read Scott Bushnell‘s blog, ‘Do You Know What the B&B Industry’s Competition Is?’