A new white paper has been published which analyses 70 trends sweeping the globe and their likely impact on the travel industry. The range is broad; everything from the rise of nationalism to new programming standards is studied for its potential to help or hinder hoteliers and travel industry professionals.
The report, titled What If? Imagining the future of the Travel Industry, found that the traditional aggregator for the travel industry – global distribution systems – will remain relevant whatever happens. The report did, however, throw up some other interesting conclusions.
Go big or go home…or not?
A recent phenomenon in the hotel world has been the mass merging of airlines, hotel groups, travel management companies, cruise lines, online travel companies, wholesalers and tour operators. The thinking behind this hospitality trend is that by achieving greater scale, businesses can stand up to the might of tech giants such as Google, Airbnb and Amazon.
This does however have its downsides. Many mergers become unmanageable due to the complexity of the new venture. They consequently fail. What’s more, size doesn’t necessarily attract customers; consumers have never traditionally fallen in love with one-stop shopping, so attempting a merger such as this to try and bolster your negotiating power may do you more harm than good. This begs the question though; how can your hotel remain competitive if tech giants do begin to encroach more upon the travel industry?
Friends not foes
Another one of the recurring hospitality trends cited by experts contributing to the report is that an increasingly open, interconnected world will encourage gatekeepers such as Google to become more involved with the travel industry. Why? Quite simply because the rewards will be greater. Events such as Brexit, or phenomenons such as the rise of nationalism, could likewise turn them away from the travel and hotel industry.
In the case that tech giants such as Google or Alibaba do begin to establish a greater presence, the best thing you can do is work with them rather than against them. The report argues that you can make the best of the changing travel landscape by cooperating to improve your market position over your competitors. Contrary to dwindling in the face of tech giants entering the fray, your hotel can thrive if you identify ways to complement the tools that technology platform giants offer.
One such tactic could see hotels marrying sets of data in order to provide a better, more personalized service to customers during the booking process.
In the face of a changing hospitality landscape that may be influenced just as much by world events as it is by hospitality trends, taking a pragmatic approach might just be the key to victory.
Personalisation is nothing new in marketing. However, it could be set to go to another level with technology increasingly used to aggregate customer date and deliver a more personalised experience for guests. This is one trend that could be leveraged right away by segmenting customer lists and targeting guests based on what you already know about them. In the future, it could mean deploying AI to mine online behaviours in order to meet travel needs instantly.