While the past two years have been, to say the least, unpredictable, we have begun to see and explore trends and new developments that will impact our profession as we continue moving toward a sense of recovery. HSMAI President and CEO Bob Gilbert shared his insights on important changes that might be on the horizon for 2022.
1. Research about consumer behavior will be more valuable than ever. Implications of the COVID-19 variants, outbreaks, and vaccination rates will continue to ripple throughout the travel industry. Consumer behavior in leisure and corporate travel as well as meetings and conventions will need to be continually monitored. The resilience of travel will continue to surprise many.
2. Commercial teams will continue to work closer together and/or integrate or consolidate. The pandemic forced staff reductions in many hotels and hotel companies, and as teams rebuild, they are doing so more efficiently and intelligently. Companies are operationalizing new ideas and efficiencies that will maximize impact and ROI.
3. Communicating on the small screen will be normalized. As the workplace environment changes, sales professionals will have to adapt to find ways to work with customers, especially any customers who may not be in a physical office.
4. Face-to-face meetings will become more valuable. Industry professionals and their customers may travel to fewer trade shows and events, but the ones they do will become even more important as the opportunity for buyers and suppliers to meet face to face and for relationships to be developed will be even rarer. In the beginning of the pandemic, we could connect virtually because we had established relationships — that relationship-equity bucket needs to be replenished now. It’s just human nature. The same holds true for the business traveler. There may be fewer trips, but the ones that happen will have a higher value.
5. Hospitality technology stacks will improve. The pandemic forced the commercial teams to work closer together to find solutions to create or capture demand and communication with consumers. Consumers are willing to adapt to technology solutions and will become more loyal to brands’ apps and the personalized benefits and timely information that can be communicated via these apps.
6. The focus on talent and the talent pipeline will be a priority for all hospitality companies. Creative sources tactics will emerge. Hospitality school graduates will be in higher demand, and employee benefits and retention strategies will be enhanced.
7. Mergers and acquisitions will continue where economies of scale and other synergies can be leveraged. This will impact brands, management companies, ownership groups, and tech vendors.
Read more about Gilbert’s new year predictions, along with those of other industry insiders, in Hospitality Upgrade.