As hotel industry executives and analysts consider the year ahead, many are concerned with the impact of inflation. Other issues include concerns about weather, avian flu and the unknown.
Rob Smith, Aimbridge Hospitality’s divisional president, full-service, noted that his company is making multiple plans to deal with the unexpected.
“A lot of things that we’re doing now as we build budgets, we’re building them for the things that we know we can affect — the things we see today. And we’re building four or five contingency plans behind those so that as things do change, we’re able to react quickly and nimbly.”
Entegra President and CEO Damien Calderini believes weather will be a top issue because of its effect on the supply chain and access to food. Avian flu also has Calderini worried.
“Every year you see avian flu spiking once, but what are we seeing this year? It’s coming, it’s going, but it’s coming back and it keeps coming back. That’s going to have significant damage.”
Travelers’ shifting priorities
Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, hotel guests’ expectations have altered and hoteliers have worked to adapt.
Denis Klurfeld, vice president of procurement for Accor’s North & Central America division, said the hospitality company examined what guests are looking for and what they aren’t.
“We essentially have been really focusing the procurement efforts on identifying what really is going to drive value in the next two to three years and really focusing on those aspects of the guest experience,” Klurfeld said.
Other trends to watch
Several sources have compiled their predictions for 2023, and among the trends they have in common are wellness travel, bleisure travel and smart technology.
Hotel News Now columnist Robert Rauch noted that people are much more attuned to wellness as a result of the pandemic.
“Travelers will still indulge but will prefer a better fitness center, outdoor activities and healthy food options,” Rauch writes.
Adapting to health and wellness tourism is not as straightforward as one might think, hospitality consultant Mariana Palmeiro writes, noting that simple steps might do the trick.
“My message is that you don’t necessarily have to open a bespoke vegan restaurant, or spend millions renovating your spa, to be thought of as a wellness-conscious hotel.”
Travel combining business and leisure will continue into 2023, and Rauch urges hoteliers to address the needs of this sector. “This means free high-speed internet, ample plug sockets and great coffee,” Rauch writes.
Meanwhile, adopting technology can advance the aims of both wellness and bleisure travel as well as general hotel functions. Hotel management software provider AxisRooms notes the many ways technology can be used across operations.
In-room fitness equipment helps guests stay on track with their wellness goals, while tablets can help ease business travelers’ burden by allowing them to leave heavier laptops at home.
Additional technology trends include apps that allow guests to check in touch-free and order from room service, as well as service robots and artificial intelligence, which can be used “in your hotel business operations to improve the productivity and efficiency of your hotel operations, revenue management, guest personalization and data analytics, and provide your guests with a multilingual booking experience.”
Overall, with the expectation of unpredictability, hoteliers must have a comprehensive understanding of their particular properties.
“We must define ourselves by more than what we sell,” Rauch concludes. “There must be a story that a guest tells about their experience. Otherwise, we are just another place.”