You’re young and you have a lot of options, which can make it tough to figure what type of career you’d like to pursue. Here’s an overview of the hospitality industry from guest author Melissa Davidson. This will help you decide if a career in hospitality management and other related positions in hospitality are right for you. You can find Melissa on Twitter @madtris.
“The heart of hospitality, for me, is the ability to focus completely and totally on one person, even if only for a matter of seconds, yet long enough that you’ve got a clear connection.”
– – Chef Patrick O’Connell in the book “The Heart of Hospitality”
To stand out in the hospitality world, it takes dedication and desire to want to be there while simultaneously creating and sustaining high quality customer service.
When the service is good, hotels and restaurants leave a positive lasting impression on the guest. Bad service, unfortunately, stays with someone longer and more vividly.
The very nature of the term “hospitality” is to provide friendly and generous reception and entertainment of guests, visitors, or strangers. But hospitality goes way beyond being nice and fun.
Here are five trends and takeaways shaping the guest experience and impacting the hospitality industry:
Loyalty programs continue to be a main money-making strategy for recruiting new customers and retaining current ones. This common business strategy establishes why, who, and how guests access loyalty benefits. It provides an opportunity to understand customers and gain insight about guests. It’s something the industry is still scrutinizing and working on.
Loyalty programs shouldn’t be solely about rewarding the big spenders. It won’t win the “hearts and minds” of customers, according to an article on Skift. The article says companies shouldn’t revamp their programs to be like American, Delta and United airlines. It goes onto say loyalty members shouldn’t be given canned responses to requests for more information when hospitality decides to revamp their programs.
It seems there’s less brand loyalty today than in previous generations, so hotels are targeting millennials by appealing to their minimalist and digital senses. When using a site like TripAdvisor, people are looking for photos that stand out in the crowd.
Bright colors and bold designs photograph well. If there’s a super unique lobby piece — such as the huge purple flip flop in the lobby of Margaritaville in Hollywood, FL. — it offers the perfect opportunity for a selfie in front of it. Photographs are then shared on social media and on hotel review sites.
Hotels are realizing that part of guest satisfaction involves both face-to-face and digital communication to create an integrated experience. A virtual concierge can provide an authentic experience where guests receive information about amenities, local attractions, and promotions on a widescreen display. Guests can book a spa appointment or dinner reservation, and create their own itinerary using digital signage solutions. This format also makes it easy for guests to explore the hotel on their own.
Catering to Millennials
By the year 2025, millennials are expected to represent a whopping 50 percent of all travelers to the U.S., according to the Cornell Center for Hospitality Research. This demographic especially wants technology, easy check-in, gourmet dining, reasonable prices and personalized interactions. Who doesn’t want that, really?
If satisfied, millennials will promote hotels and restaurants on all of their social media channels. Nearly 100 percent of millennials share their travels by posting photos and writing about their experiences on several social media platforms.
A 2017 study by Bank of America showed that millennials had the most growth in travel-related spending over the past year.
If hotels are putting their guests first, as they aim to, they are also keeping up with all of the new technology as it emerges. Hospitality industry trends show that mobile devices are an essential part of the guest life cycle — before, during and after their stay. Sixty percent of all travel-related searches begin from a smartphone.
The future of hospitality is all about using technology to strengthen guest relationships and improve the guest’s experience while making the day-to-day operations more efficient.
Mobile apps are used to track loyalty points, streamline check-in and virtually view properties. Mainstream hotels like Marriott Hotels offer VR postcards through room service and Best Western allows visitors to preview their destination.
At business meetings and conferences, travelers expect hotels and conference centers to have high quality tech equipment and a knowledgeable support staff.
Speaking of Marriott, some hotels in the chain use their Facebook pages to communicate with their followers about hotel and local events, promotions and deals. Hyatt and Hilton hotels use Twitter as a concierge service where guests can tweet questions and get responses within the hour. Of course many hotels have active Facebook and Twitter accounts as is expected by the modern customer.
Just like the huge flip-flop statue mentioned above, it’s not only a design element, it’s a photo op to be shared across multiple platforms. Brand presence and marketing efforts go hand in hand on social media.
Hoteliers need to embrace the way people communicate and be prepared for changes in consumer behavior and expectations.
There’s a lot more involved in the hospitality industry than what’s presented here, but it gives you an idea of 2017 trends. To dive further into the hospitality industry, check out a book called “The Heart of Hospitality: Great Hotel and Restaurant Leaders Share Their Secrets”.
Image/Hashoo Foundation USA