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Hotels Adapting Technology to Generational Preferences

The Cornell Center for Hospitality Research “For Tech’s Sake! Building Customer Loyalty via Generational Preferences” roundtable session focused on key learnings hotels can leverage by understanding the technology “preference gap” among multiple generations.

After providing statistics regarding decision making influences and demographic preferences,  Josh Weiss, vice president of Guest Technology Innovation at Hilton Hotels, said “We must be deliberate and thoughtful in how we design, deliver and support technology that stays relevant and intuitive fo all of our guests across generations.”

Mark McCarthy is a Senior Lecturer Cornell School for Hospitality Administration. Photo Credit: Cornell University.

Mark McCarthy is a Senior Lecturer Cornell School for Hospitality Administration. Photo Credit: Cornell University.

For example, Cornell’s Senior Lecturer of Information Systems Mark McCarthy asked the audience “how many people expect to use a phone to unlock a hotel room?” He then provided findings from his own research that showed that 55% of people polled don’t expect this capability. The difference in what technology guests want can be seen in their demand for internet access. Guests expect easy reliable wi-fi access in hotel rooms, but fewer expect such access on planes.

In other words: technology for technology’s sake isn’t a sound strategy for hotels. “Such investments degrade the customer experience rather than enhance it,” the panelists said.

More than two dozen industry leaders, along with researchers and students met for the second annual Technology Entrepreneurship Roundtable hosted by the Center for Hospitality Research at Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration. The April 2016 event covered a range of discussions including cloud computing’s impact on consumers’ ability to influence brands, social media’s connectivity between businesses and their customers, the role of generational preferences, customizing technology, and the challenges of adapting to the constantly changing environment.

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Consumers Act as WatchDogs for the Hotel Industry

The Cornell Center for Hospitality Research “High Tech, High Touch: Highlights from the 2016 Entrepreneurship Roundtable” cultivated key observations about technology and the hotel industry in its 2016 roundtable session.

“The modern era is all about authenticity.  You must deliver what you promise, ” said MIT’s Jeffrey Lipton.

 

Photo Credit: Larry Hall, President and CEO, Trillium Services Group at the Cornell Center for Hospitality Research, April 2016. Photo via Cornell University

Photo Credit: Larry Hall, President and CEO of Trillium Services Group, at the Cornell Center for Hospitality Research, April 2016. Photo via Cornell University.

“The cloud gives consumers a loud, amplified voice. Companies are held to a higher than ever level of morality and accountability as a result,” Larry Hall President and CEO of Trillium Services Group said.

 

Even negative, disastrous situations — like the Chipotle E. coli outbreak — provides opportunities if hotels are ready to engage with their customers. “While it may appear that there is no upside in this situation for the company, it served as an opportunity for Chipotle to connect with its customer base, and address the problem, building trust.” the authors of the report shared.

While some might argue that the market has a way of always bearing out what consumers will buy or what they will pay for, panelists seemed to say that consumers may be gaining the upper hand.

Take, for example, a recent Marriott situation, when the hotel curtailed hotpot access, thus requiring customers to subscribe to the hotel’s internet service. A PR firestorm forced the chain to reverse its policy and issue an apology.

The “Voice of the Crowd on the Cloud,” panelists stated that individual consumers unify, becoming “the crowd” in social media. The crowd then serves as social and environmental responsibility watchdogs who keep businesses accountable for their actions and decisions.

The panel also discussed the relevance and importance all hotels face regarding negative online reviews. “Dealing with negative reviews is a pressing issue, and one we dealt with at a previous company of ours. After each guest stayed, we would send out a typical survey with ratings from 1 to 5.  If they rated us a 4 or a 5, we would send them to TripAdvisor and if they rated us a 1-3, we would redirect to our own webpage to address the complaint. This was a new way we dealt with reviews and the paradox they can cause,” said Josh Ogle of The Original Agency.

More than two dozen industry leaders, along with researchers and students met for the second annual Technology Entrepreneurship Roundtable hosted by the Center for Hospitality Research at Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration. The April 2016 event covered a range of discussions including cloud computing’s impact on consumers’ ability to influence brands, social media’s connectivity between businesses and their customers, the role of generational preferences, customizing technology, and the challenges of adapting to the constantly changing environment.

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From Around the Web: Hotels and Commercial Properties Face a Future of Possibly Drowning in the Cost of Water

by Christina McCale 0 Comments
Photo by: Somsak Nitimongkolchai via FastCoExist.com/Shutterstock

Photo by: Somsak Nitimongkolchai via FastCoExist.com/Shutterstock

An aging infrastructure, water shortages, and increased demand spell a recipe for increasing water costs for commercial property owners, including hotels.

However, a recently released white paper points to a possible solution.

The Chicago Faucets white paper offers a solution as part of a thorough water conservation plan—replace a building’s older manual faucets with new electronically metered low-flow faucets. Advancements in technology and the decreasing costs make this a remedy many commercial properties may find more palatable than rising water bills.

 

Read More Here.

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From Around the Web: Wyndham Garden Prototype Emphasizes Ease & Efficiencies

 

Rendering credit: Wyndham Hotel Group

Rendering credit: Wyndham Hotel Group

The Wyndham Garden® brand is revealing its first global hotel prototype, designed to make travel easier and more carefree while delivering greater returns for hotel owners through operating efficiencies.

The new offering exceeds its usual upper-midscale hotel segment through an upscale experience with modern architecture with functional design elements.

With roughly half of all Wyndhams located near airports, the firm knows it has a unique opportunity to serve its guests. Kate Ashton, brand senior vice president of Wyndham Garden said, “Travelers deserve respites along with amenities that provide added convenience and comfort. With this philosophy steering the brand in all that we do, we’ve developed a serene environment with purposeful design choices, a lens on the details and meaningful offerings to make our guests’ travels as easy and stress-free as possible.”

Nine new concept hotels are currently under construction in markets like Winter Haven and Orlando, Florida; Edinburg, Texas; and South Bend, Indiana, with the first opening in Bridgeport, West Virginia in mid-2017.

 

Rendering credit: Wyndham Hotel Group

Rendering credit: Wyndham Hotel Group

As reported in GreenLodgingNews.com, the group’s new prototype is a LEED-certifiable design, featuring low-flow water fixtures, five electric car charging stations and greenery in all guest areas. The hotel will have filtered water stations on each floor, thus reducing wasteful bottled water.  The new design features ample natural light and guest-controlled temperature gauges — both of which cuts back on energy use.  The new concept will also locally source menu items lend to a more sustainable food process.

For more about the Wyndham expansion, read more here.

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From Around the Web: Cornell’s CHR Benchmarks 8000 Hotels in Sustainability Study

Photo by: Sasha Samardzija via FastCoExist.com/Shutterstock

Photo by: Sasha Samardzija via FastCoExist.com/Shutterstock

Cornell has gathered information from more than 8000 hotels worldwide so they can benchmark how their hotels are managing their  environmental impacts.  As reported on greenlodgingnews.com, “The results are presented in the CHSB2016 Index report, where users can obtain the range of benchmarks for energy consumption, water consumption, and greenhouse gas emissions for hotels within specific segments and geographic locations.”

Cornell is providing the report free of charge.

As sustainability is a vital issue in our industry, and the Cornell study is of vital importance to hotel firms looking to improve their performance and be able to compare their performance to other firms.  As Denise Naguib, Vice President, Sustainability and Supplier Diversity, Global Operations, Marriott International shared, “The travel and tourism sector has an incredible opportunity to drive sustainability around the world. The CHSB benchmark provides hotels the information that they need to know where they stand among their peers, and to apply that information to drive improvements and promote their own efforts to customers.”

For more info, read on.

 

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From Around the Web: Hotel Groups Collaborate to Launch First Standardized Water Measurement Tool

 

Photo credit: Jon Westenberg via Medium

Photo credit: Jon Westenberg via Medium

The International Tourism Partnership have announced a jointly agreed upon method for measuring water use in the hotel industry.

The 18-month project has resulted in “a free methodology and calculation tool which will enable hotel companies and individual properties to measure and report on water consumption in a consistent way.”

Consistent is the key word: up until now, while companies did measure water consumption, each firm had its own methods that may have included (or excluded) certain sources or uses of water.  Also key was that the initiative would be “free and easy to implement.”

The initiative was started in response to “one of the most pressing global issues hotels need to address is their consumption of water, and the understanding that “what gets measured gets managed.”

The 18 global hotel groups, some of the biggest brands in the lodging industry,  include: Accor, Carlson Rezidor, Diamond Resorts, Fairmont Raffles Hotels International, Hilton Worldwide, the Hongkong & Shanghai Hotels, Hyatt Hotels & Resorts, InterContinental Hotels Group, Las Vegas Sands Corp., Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group, Marriott International, MGM Hotels & Resorts, NH Hotel Group, Soneva, Starwood Hotels & Resorts, Taj Hotels, Resorts & Palaces, Whitbread, and Wyndham Worldwide Resorts.

The hoteliers worked with KPMG as technical consultants and included with input from the international expert community, including the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI), Water Footprint Network, CDP and CEO Water Mandate.

For more, read on.

 

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From around the Web: 2016 Hotel Trends

by Christina McCale 0 Comments
Photo by: Julia Wimmerlin/National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest

Photo by: Julia Wimmerlin/National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest

The London Telegraph writes that there nine key trends she’s observing in the hotel market.

  1. Forget the usual hotel restaurant. “Following Rene Redzepi’s successful Noma residency at the Mandarin Oriental Tokyo last year, chefs of similar acclaim are setting up temporarily at hotels.”
  2. Smart Hotels are getting hotter. While no one’s saying that the unmanned hotel is going to be the norm, hotels can use technology to create frictionless experiences for guests. An example of this is Arrive Hotel in Palm Springs. Hotels embracing this philosophy are offering check-in at the hotel bar, cross-functional staff who can provide all kinds of guest support, keyless room entry, on screen Netflix/Apple TV and guest services arranged through text messaging.
  3. An Appreciation for Historical Hotels. There is a growing appreciation for smaller hotels with historical relevance and ambiance.  Hotels like The Beekman Hotel and The Chicago Peninsula that are not just luxurious but who have a clear sense of history and style are of great appeal.
  4. Millennials are “in.”  Hotels are looking for ways to appeal to this HUGE target market. Some hotels are rethinking room size (include everything a guest needs, and nothing they don’t) and creating entirely new brand lines.  Marriott, for example, has an entire hotel that serves as its lab for experimenting with new offerings before rolling it out to the rest of the line.
  5. Hotel groups will merge and evolve. With the Starwood (which owns Sheraton,St. Regis®, The Luxury Collection®, , Westin®, Le Méridien®, Sheraton®, Tribute Portfolio™, Four Points® by Sheraton, Aloft®, Element®,) and Marriott merger, the new firm will count more than 1.1 million hotel rooms worldwide.
  6. Wellness Goes Mainstream. Once thought only for the luxury hotels, the wellness trend is making its way downmarket to appeal to all sorts of consumers who realize that health isn’t just about decisions made in the doctor’s office, but rather all the little decisions you make — from restaurant decisions to aromatherapy showers — on a daily basis.

… And more.  Other trends include Concept Hotels, Eco-Friendly Hotels, and Exclusivity as “the new Luxury.”

 

 

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From Around the Web: 5 Hotel Trends & Disruptions

by Christina McCale 0 Comments
Photo by: samson duborg-rankin via Unsplash

Photo by: samson duborg-rankin via Unsplash

Travelmarket Report shared five key trends — disruptions — for the hotel industry as observed on at the Hotel Experience trade show held at the Javits Center. They include:

  1. The Sharing Economy.  “Hotels can’t wish away Airbnb, said Skift CEO Rafat Ali, “but there is mass denial going on among lodging leaders. Airbnb won’t be as transformative for hotels as Uber has been for the taxi industry, but it may be the next big distribution channel, supplanting OTAs.”
  2. The Reinvention of Legacy Brands.  As we’ve discussed here, Millennials are shaking up the hotel experience – and some brands like Marriott are adapting to these changing tastes.
  3. The Rules about Hotel Restaurants/Food & Beverage Are Changing. The article shares five major changes for hotels in their restaurant/bar operations.
  4. Meetings and Events are changing. According to the article, event logistics will become more and more automated, event apps and paper money will likely disappear.
  5. Good News for Travel Agents.  Harvey Chipkin reports that there is a “sense of wanderlust among millennials is exponentially greater than the other three generations.” Further, Millennials and the affluent are more likely to use travel agents to help with travel plans as they are groups who “perceive a value in paying for their time.”

Read more here.

 

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From Around the Web: New Age Amenities in Hotels

Vitamin C infused showers reportedly neutralize chlorine and leave guests with healther skin, hair and nails. Photo from: Forbes.com

Vitamin C infused showers reportedly neutralize chlorine and leave guests with healther skin, hair and nails. Photo from: Forbes.com

While some guests are choosing to find ways to get out and about when they’re traveling, some hotel guests still like the ability to create a haven – a home away from home – while they’re on the road.

Whether they’re a corporate business traveler who seeks sanctuary from the road warrior life, or an executive just needing a break away from a long day of meetings, some hotel guests choose to use their hotel room as a get-away.

Hotels are responding to this trend in a few unique ways.

“Wellness amenities at luxury hotels are highly demanded but they usually come at a premium price,” shares Keith Flamer in Forbes. Now guests at more moderately priced hotels can enjoy programs like “Stay Well®, a less expensive wellness program featuring in-room sensations that revitalize the body, revive the mind and energize the spirit.”

Some of the program offerings include:

  • Vitamin C-infused showers to neutralize chlorine,
  • circadian rhythm lighting (red-spectrum light in the living quarters to aid sleep and melatonin-boosting blue-spectrum light in the bathroom to assist waking),
  • hypoallergenic beds, and comfy, non-toxic natural foam mattresses

… all designed to relax and rejuvenate weary leisure and business travelers. “We have adopted an underlying philosophy that the most important health decisions are not made in a doctor’s office; rather, there are dozens of decisions individuals make daily while at work, at home, in a restaurant or in retail environments that are the most impactful drivers of quality of life or health and wellness,” says Jim Zboril, president of Tavistock Development Company.

Read more…

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