How Hotels Can Adapt to a Changing Market in 2020 and Beyond
After more than 60 years in business, Hyatt proves that it can still adapt to market changes. Earlier this year, it announced a new brand, it’s 20th, called Caption by Hyatt. These 150-250 room select-service properties will have open and flexible communal spaces with a unique food and beverage concept that is more akin to a hip co-working space or chic cafe than a traditional hotel lobby.
A few years ago, we wrote about how millennial travelers are changing the face of hotels. In that post, we suggested that hotels “Pump Up the Lounge Space.” We wrote, “The defining characteristics of Millennial travelers aren’t solely digital. While they might not always want to talk face-to-face, Millennials enjoy spending time in public spaces. An E&Y report observes, “Although Millennials place less importance on face-to-face contact than prior generations, they have a strong desire to be actively social, including via telecommunication and social media. This hybrid of simultaneous social interaction in both physical space (sharing) and virtual space (communication) describes a phenomenon of isolated togetherness.”
According to Hyatt, Caption by Hyatt hotels will “inspire organic connections between people on their journeys through alluring spaces, share-worthy food and beverage, and experiences that don’t begin and end at the door.”
“With the increasingly rapid changes in technology and its effect on the current generation’s lifestyle, hotels need to keep pace with what their guests are expecting in a hospitality brand,” Heather Geisler, vice president of global brands, Hyatt said. “By listening to our guests, we know that whether they are traveling alone or with a friend, they are looking to connect with others in an environment that is authentic and approachable.”
To illustrate what happens when a brand stops paying attention to trends or listening to customers, take a look at the recent news of travel giant Thomas Cook. According to travel agent trade body Abta, just one in seven British travelers book their holidays with a brick a mortar agency. Thomas Cook owned 560 brick and mortar locations. Others have speculated that Thomas Cook’s mainstay, the beach vacation, had fallen out of favor with many Brits. According to Citylab, “The rise in popularity of shorter urban breaks does indeed seem to have been a factor. In 2019, the average Briton is far more likely to be found wandering around Barcelona or Amsterdam than, say, sunbathing on the beaches of Spain’s Costa Del Sol, a 1980s favorite.”
Thomas Cook did not keep up with the times. Now it’s gone, shuttered in a single day.
How do you become more like Hyatt and less like Thomas Cook?
Use guest feedback to guide changes at your property. Read and respond to online reviews. Send thoughtful surveys. Keep your finger on the pulse of guest sentiment. Knowing how your property is being experienced is critical to curating that experience for your guests. Moreover, potential guests are much more likely to visit a well-reviewed—and frequently reviewed—property, even if it costs more. This is good news for your bottom line.
When you find yourself on the receiving end of a negative review, don’t fret. Instead, look at it as an opportunity to gain a loyal customer who otherwise would have slipped through the cracks. If you’re struggling with how to respond to negative reviews, we’ve got you covered.
2. Know your guests
Build a CRM and make it a priority to understand your customer base. You need to focus on building your own database with first-party data. First-party data will always lead to the best engagement and conversion rates because you already have a relationship with these guests. If OTAs drive a lot of business to your hotel, ensure that you collect contact information from every guest at check-in so you can market to them in the future. See this article for more tips on capturing contact information from guests to grow your database.
A CRM keeps you in the business of managing guests, not rooms. It also allows for advanced marketing techniques, such as segmentation, which ensure you’re sending the right message to the right person to get the right head in the right bed for the right price.
3. Evolve your brand
If Amazon didn’t evolve beyond books, it would surely be out of business by now. Hotels need to follow not only trends in hospitality and travel but also trends in technology, health, food, communication and design to stay relevant. Retail especially does an excellent job personalizing and segmenting marketing communications to maximize their effect, putting brand voice at the forefront, and delivering timely and enticing offers. The net result? Brand loyalty and repeat customers. If these are your goals as well (and they should be), it may be a good idea to learn from the folks who are doing it the best.
If you build a strong brand like Hyatt and your customers trust you, they’ll come along for the journey as you adapt and grow.