Thursday, February 22, 2018

Hospitality And The Local Experience - Part 1



The world of travel, both for leisure and business, is evolving and so must the hospitality industry with it. The rise of the sharing economy, in the form of home-sharing platforms such as Airbnb, is ushering in much of this evolution for hoteliers. So too is the ongoing generational transformation, which is taking place in regards to what constitutes the demographic of the average traveler.

The young Millennial Generation traveler is seeking an immersive experience with destinations and their cultures, rather than merely being a “tourist”, which is considered anathema to many younger travelers. Airbnb and others emphasize the local surroundings of their listings and urge guests to “live like a local” at each destination. Hotels must find ways in which the local experience can be incorporated into each brand and property.

Much of what has made the hospitality industry so appealing to the traveling public for quite a few decades has been the promise of no surprises. A chain hotel offers its guests a standard in which they can count on finding when they arrive on-property. Many travelers find this standard comforting and reassuring. However, the trend in travel for the younger hotel guest often is to seek different experiences at each destination they travel to. Even if traveling for business, younger travelers are looking to experience local surroundings and taste the local flavors, however fleetingly.

Design

Making a hotel guest experience unique to a specific locale begins with the property itself. Incorporating design elements, which are particular to the surroundings of the hotel property, makes a great starting point to offer guests the local experience they are expecting. Colors, fabrics, materials and textures can subtly convey a sense of place and culture without being overly conspicuous, for example. Architecture itself is more directly explicit, but must also be suitable within the context of branding. Brand identity must also be considered when bringing local artists and their works on-property, however nothing evokes a sense of place and culture more than artwork.

Hotel properties can make guests feel as if they are, to some degree at least, a product of their location rather than a piece cut from the corporate cloth. By doing so, hotels can more effectively endear themselves to the sensibilities of the 21st Century traveler. In part two we will look at how hoteliers can bring the local experience onto their hotel properties through the food and beverages they serve, services they provide, and partnerships they form with local businesses.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Data Security For Hotels - Part 3



For any hotel or chain unprepared for it, the impending rollout of new customer data security regulations in the European Union on May 25, 2018, could prove to be a potentially costly oversight. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is bringing sweeping changes to the manor in which brands, of all industries, collect and utilize the personal information of their customers and others. The new regulations are intended to bring uniformity to disparate laws and their enforcement, while bringing data security into the 21st Century to effectively confront the security challenges faced today.

Any company collecting data from EU citizens must comply with the new regulations, regardless of whether they have a presence in the EU or not, or face steep penalties. The new rules will require hotels and all companies to receive explicit consent for each time a data point is collected and each time the data is utilized. Previously, hoteliers could collect and use guest data through implicit consent, combined with the offer of a “opt-out” for customers. The guest was then automatically signed up for email and other marketing campaigns. This practice will be no longer allowed for EU citizens. This is a complete game changer in regards to hotel marketing efforts directed towards EU citizens, including hotels from outside of the EU.

The GDPR requirement for explicit consent means for hoteliers they must fully explain what they are collecting and why, and what exactly they intend to do with the guest’s data. Most importantly, the customers must explicitly “opt-in” by their own choice. It is crucial to also understand that each consent only applies its use to one single purpose and cannot be utilized again for any other purposes. Beyond the negative impact on brand reputation, the penalties for violating the GDPR are rather severe, and may include fines of up to 20 million Euros or 4 percent of the global annual turnover for the company, whichever is greater.

North American or Asian hotels and chains, which may believe they will not be impacted by the GDPR should take a closer examination of the new EU rules. The criteria for determining if the regulations apply are as follows: any company with a presence in any country within the EU or any company which processes personal data of EU citizens and has more than 250 employees, any company whose processing of data impacts the rights and freedoms of EU citizens. What this amounts to is most companies in the hospitality space.

The potential impacts upon all hotels by the EU’s Global Data Protection Regulation are rather sobering. Many hotels around the world fully expect to feel the results of its rollout, at least to some degree, in a negative way. Gaining insight and understanding of the new regulations in order to become compliant, in advance of its implementation, is how hoteliers will be successful under the new regulations.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Hospitality News For The Week Of 2/16/18



Google now allows hotel bookings through search results

Google announced they are now enabling consumers to book hotels on their mobile phone, directly from search result pages. The online search giant has given users the functionality needed for them to never need to leave a Google search page to book travel for airlines and now hotels as well. The latest changes will include hotel photos combined with functionality that enables users to customize dates and pricing. Additionally, users will have the ability to search for destinations and receive a variety of flight and hotel options together. Full Story Here:


The Most Popular Travel Experiences of 2017

TripAdvisor has published the results of the experiences segment of their top travel trends report for 2017. The results indicate travelers are expanding their horizons and are seeking unique, local experiences and culture, in addition to more traditional tourist activities. Historical and heritage tours, culinary tours and cooking classes, along with activities in the great outdoors are all rising significantly in popularity according to the research. Another trend is skip-the-line and priority access at many traditional tourist destinations is dramatically on the rise as well. Full Story Here:


Hoteliers, analysts divided on effects of US tax reform

At the recently held Americas Lodging Investment Summit (ALIS), hoteliers and industry experts were divided on both the near and long-term effects of the U.S. tax reform recently enacted and signed into law. At the summit a number of tax reform issues were debated. Topics covered included speculation of whether the legislation will result in increased consumer spending on travel, and what the effects on supply and demand and hotel pricing will be. Full Story Here:


US Hotel Occupancy Dips 0.2 Percent To 59.5 Percent - Week Ending February 10th - 2018

In year-over-year comparison the U.S. hotel industry reported mixed performance results for the week of 4-10 February 2018, according to published data from STR. When compared to the same week last year, industry-wide occupancy fell slightly by -0.2 percent to finish the week at 59.5 percent. Average daily rate was up however by +2.8 percent to $125.09 for the week. Revenue per available room was +2.6 percent higher as well, finishing the week at $74.48. Full Story Here: 


Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Data Security For Hotels - Part 2



As hotels have expanded efforts to connect and service their guests digitally they have increasingly become lucrative targets for data stealing cyber criminals. Data security breaches involving hotels have unfortunately been reported extensively in the news, causing damaged brand reputations over top the already significant financial loss for hoteliers. Hotels have a responsibility and obligation to ensure the security of the highly sensitive personal information entrusted to them by their customers. To that end, two distinct and equally important guidelines of compliance have been developed regarding the handling, storage and utilization of the personal information customers share with the brands they patronize.

PCI Compliance

The transient nature of the hospitality industry, with a new batch of guests arriving everyday at hotels bearing their fresh personal and credit card data, offers cyber thieves a steady stream of potential victims. This is the reason hotels make such lucrative targets for such crimes. These criminals utilize malware, software designed to access all the customer’s credit card information through any payment system. This includes not only the numbers and expiration dates, but the verification codes as well.

PCI (payment card industry) compliance standards are designed to provide a guideline for a series of minimal security measures to be adhered to by every business which stores, processes, and transmits the data of all cardholders. Called the PCI Data Security Standard (PCI DSS), all merchants must follow these standards in order to enter into contractual agreements with the banks that process the cards.

PII Compliance

Simply put, whereas PCI compliance standards protect credit card transactions, PII compliance standards protect all other forms of personal data collected by hoteliers from their guests. PII stands for personally identifiable information and includes highly sensitive personal data points such as an individual’s name, date of birth, phone number, email address, IP address, and bank account information among others. Every time a guest books a hotel, joins a loyalty program, or chooses to follow a brand on social media for example, the information is stored and used in marketing campaigns directed at the individual. Additionally, this information is shared and utilized across many platforms, well beyond the original point of interaction.

PII compliance standards are regulated and enforced to varying degrees in a very fragmented way around the globe. This is the intended goal of the upcoming roll out of more robust regulations for the European Union called the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation), to address this issue uniformly for EU citizens. This is an event which will have far-reaching impact. Even for hoteliers outside of the European Union.

In part three we will take a more in-depth examination of the EU’s GDPR and how it brings far-reaching repercussions with it for all hotels on a global scale.

Friday, February 9, 2018

Hospitality News For The Week Of 2/9/18



U.S. News Releases 2018 Best Hotels Rankings

U.S. News & World Report has published their annual rankings of the world’s best hotels. The 2018 Best Hotels ranking evaluated 24,000 luxury hotels in the U.S., Europe, Canada, Mexico and Bermuda. For the U.S., Hawaii’s Four Seasons Resort Lanai was ranked number one. In Mexico, Rosewood Mayakoba took top honors in the results. In Canada the Rosewood Hotel Georgia placed at the top. For Europe, The Ritz Paris moved up to take the top spot. Full Story Here:


Which hotels are most popular among business travelers?

The expense report tracker Certify has published the results of a study of the most expensed hotel chains for business travelers. The research found Hampton Inn, with an average expense of $240.59, was the most popular choice for business travelers in 2017. In second place was Marriott Hotels with an average cost of $272.15. Full Story Here:


Future of Hospitality 2018 Research Report Published by MicroMetrics

MicroMetrics has published The Future Of Hospitality 2018 Research Report, pointing out upcoming trends in hospitality that are crucial to the industry. Important takeaways from the survey of over 2,500 hospitality professional include “Evolving Customer Expectations” are believed by 28 percent of industry leaders to be a disruptive force for the hospitality industry. Airbnb is seen as a threat by only three percent of industry leaders. 30 percent of hospitality industry professionals plan on investing more than $500,000 to implement new technologies for their hotels. Full Story Here:


STR: US hotel results for week ending 3 February

According to published data from STR, the U.S. hotel industry posted positive performance figures for the week of 28 January through 3 February 2018. When compared to the same week last year, industry-wide occupancy was +1.4 percent higher at 56.4 percent. Average daily rate rose by +2.2 percent to finish the week at $122.35. Revenue per available room was up +3.6 percent to end the week at $69.05. Full Story Here: