Happy New Year everyone! Now that 2014 is less than 24 hours away, it’s time for the somewhat perfunctory but always fun resolutions declaration for how you can better yourself as a hotelier come the January 1st reboot. But rather than only dwell on platitudes, this year I’ve decided to combine resolutions with my predictions for what will impact our industry over the next 12 months. Take what you can from this list and know that a forward-thinking hotelier is one destined for success. Turn these predictions into resolutions for your own gain.
1. Streaming Hegemony. With digital screens everywhere you look and more opportunities than ever before to watch videos, streaming will continue to rule the day in the next few years. This trend is also deeply entwined to the fortunes of Netflix, which by recent accounts now represents about a third of all of the internet’s streaming. As a hotelier, this development is either something you can embrace to gain the admiration of your guests or it’s something you can resist by adhering to an archaic low bandwidth, heavily surcharged WiFi connection (or worse: Ethernet only). After all, we live in an era of endless options; if a guest wants to stream a television show while staying with you, how do you think they’ll feel if you limit their options?
2. Dual Screen Experience. First came laptops, then smartphones and tablets, and now the average person has two or even three screens vying for their time at any given moment. It’s all too easy nowadays to picture someone watching a movie on a massive LCD monitor while also reading on a Kindle or iPad and answering incoming text messages on a Samsung Galaxy. So what would all smart marketers do in this situation? That’s right: engineer experiences that capitalize on people’s dual screen behavior. Hit television shows have accompanying apps, as do video games. Perhaps there’s a way for hotels to get involved…
3. Healthy Green Dining. Search the web and you’ll find an original article posted every day of the week discussing foods that will make you healthier, whether it’s fat reduction, reversing the signs of aging or boosting the immune system. We are what we eat after all, and people the world over have woken up to more conscientious dietary habits. Similar to my thoughts on streaming, this is something you should proactively embrace by continually updating your menu as new nutritional studies are published with fresh insights on de rigueur superfoods. Moreover, two concurrent trends are green eating and farm to table. Healthy food options are popular, but you must also be mindful to select environmentally conscious ingredients, preferably from local sources. Although these are deal-breakers for only a slim minority of the population, they are bonuses that you can market to everybody else.
4. Indulgence Resurgence. From the looks of it, the foodie scene would appear to be bifurcating. On the one hand, people are opting for consistently austere diets of lean meats, complex carbs and organic veggies. Yet on the other hand, burgers, barbecue and desserts have never been more calorically intense. It’s almost a rite of passage for chefs to have one ‘ultimate’ option on the menu or to add excessive amounts of flour, butter, cream, salt and sugar to their dishes to maximize flavor burst. I liken it to an arms race, with every restaurant striving to outdo its immediate rivals or to distinguish itself with increasingly outlandish offerings. People want these decadent options and they want to try new, creative tastes, so this is one arms race for which you shouldn’t claim neutrality.
5. The Social Lobby Bar. We live in a social world. Given that with smartphones people can stay connected from nearly anywhere in the world, it also makes it easier for them to gather and enjoy a drink or meal together. Add in some friendly servers, a few big screen televisions, a cool ambiance and you have the makings of a fun night at a great spot. It’s folly to think of your lobby bar as a place only for guests to congregate. Instead, think of it as a point of confluence for locals and travelers alike in an atmosphere that inspires people of all walks of life to mingle and exchange stories. Just look at Casablanca – one of my favorite movies – as an example. Hotel lobby bars used to be community centers of sophistication and it’s time we returned to that ideal.
(Article published by Larry Mogelonsky in HOTELSmag on December 30, 2013)