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In a recent survey of hotel general managers, the Driftwood Hospitality Management company took a look at the needs and desires of travelers in 2019. It manages properties from all of the major hotel chains and many independent locations as well.
The findings of the survey weren’t ground breaking, but I do think they touch on greater travel trends beyond just hotels and I’m sure that the major players are already paying attention to. Marriott is the world’s largest hotel chain (by rooms) and it has had a bit of a rough go since the merger with Starwood (to say the least). On the surface it looks like the chain has been making moves to address these trends while missing some of the most basic expectations.
3 Travel Trends for Marriott & Others to Pay Attention to
For the leisure traveler, there is a growing desire for unique and personal experiences and I think hotels are starting to catch on by creating or acquiring new brands and forming interesting partnerships. Hyatt has partnered with Small Luxury Hotels to give its members access to everything from unique resorts to European castles. Hilton has unveiled the Motto brand, which is a hostel/hotel hybrid aimed at those travelers looking for more of sense of community. Marriott introduced Homes and Villas, a curated Airbnb-style collection of 2,000 private beach villas, country cabins and city lofts for those looking to rub elbows with the locals.
1. Digital Engagement
Technology is quickly transforming every aspect of our lives and travel is no different. I don’t think anyone misses the days of having to phone in each and every reservation and I love being able to communicate with the front desk staff before I even arrive at the hotel via text or the hotel’s mobile app.
But with more digital technology comes an increased need for digital security. It seem like every day there is another major data breach data in the news and with the introduction of mobile keys for hotel rooms it seems like they are ripe for hackers. But at the end of the day I guess it’s just a different form of picking a lock and probably isn’t any less safe.
2. Culinary Experiences
The survey also concluded that increasingly travelers are looking for interesting culinary experiences and I couldn’t agree more. With the advent of social media it’s easier than ever to find the best and most unique out of the way places a city has to offer, but this is something hotels should leave to the experts. When I travel I try my best to avoid hotel restaurants, unless I’m getting free breakfast.
I find that hotel food is almost always overpriced and under whelming. It would be better for hotels to create partnerships with local food experts than to invest the resources into doing it themselves.
There are exceptions. The Blue Duck Tavern at the Park Hyatt Washington, DC has a Michelin star and is an excellent place to take advantage of the free breakfast provided to Globalist elites. But unless you are staying at an ultra-luxury hotel you’re better off skipping the hotel’s menu.
If you don’t travel enough to earn hotel elite status, and the free breakfast perks that usually accompany it, you can get these benefits (or get closer to them) with the right hotel credit card. For example, with Gold or Diamond Hilton status you can get free breakfast at all Hilton hotels and Gold status comes free with cards like the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card and Diamond status is a benefit of the Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express.
Other cards can expedite your path to top-tier elite status. Lots of Marriott cards, like the Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card or even the no-annual-fee Marriott Bonvoy Bold™ Credit Card get you 15 elite night credits every year you keep the card. And The World Of Hyatt Credit Card comes with 5 elite night credits every year and 2 additional elite night credits for every $5,000 you spend on the card.
3. Sustainable Practices
No one likes to see our oceans and waterways clogged with trash and hotels have taken notice. IHG just announced a plan to end its use of bathroom miniatures and Marriott has stopped using plastic straws. It’s not uncommon to be rewarded for “making a green choice” when you decline housekeeping.
I appreciate all these efforts because small steps can add up, but I’m not handing out brownie points to any of companies anytime soon. Aside from being cost cutting measures that end up benefiting the hotel’s bottom line, there is also a perceived public relations boost to being a socially and environmentally conscious brand.
When it comes to social responsibility or taking care of the world we live in I expect most travel companies to do what they need to do in order to avoid negative press or to jump on whatever topic is trending at the moment. Very few will decide to go above and beyond.
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