By Jennifer Hill, CRME, Vice President, Commercial Strategy, Kalibri Labs
For the last 90 days, we’ve all been inundated with articles, listicles, conversations, and think pieces around “what’s coming in 2022,” and thematically, it seems as if the same issues are highlighted: shifts in business mix, traveler adoption of technology, changes in booking patterns, etc. The pandemic has made these reports even more prevalent, as everyone continues to gather information to help them understand what may be on the horizon.
But how many of these trends should we actually be considering on a day-to-day or longer-term basis? How do we make sense of it all? The HSMAI Revenue Optimization Advisory Board recently discussed this and shared their thoughts on navigating these new-year trends.
Consider if it’s really a trend or just normal industry progression.
“Are we calling things trends and bringing focus to them when, actually, they are just the natural evolution in the order of things?” said one advisory board member. “I think technology is always one of those key ‘trends’ areas, in terms of how travelers are using it and how they’re interacting with our hotel teams as they’re using it. That feels, to me, like something we’ve talked about for almost a decade — was it the pandemic that just [accelerated the] adoption of it? What does that mean for the trend?”
Determine which trends to engage with.
“When we see these trends being talked about, there’s almost a feeling that we have to react to everything — that everything we see or any change in customer behavior should spur change in our business practice,” one advisory board member offered. “And so, with a lot of things we’re reading into our data, if we find something different, we really must stop and say, ‘So what? Does this really matter? Does this require change in business deployment?’ Or is it just something that’s interesting, but still plays within the parameters of what we do on a normal basis?”
Another advisory board member said, “In our organization, we ask ourselves, ‘How long do we need to see something happen before we make organizational or strategic change?’ It’s a hard question to answer, especially at different tiers of an organization, from an individual hotel level to the corporate side of things. The more data or emerging ideas you’re exposed to, the more you have to consider if implementing them will be the healthiest thing for your business, in terms of stability.”
Put the trends in perspective.
“Our business structures are very people-focused, smaller assets, so something might happen four or five times, and then we have MDs who are trying to reprogram their entire resort because, whatever is currently happening, has been front and center with them and they’re making it a much bigger deal than it really is,” one member explained. “So, there have been a lot of debunking conversations we’ve had with certain travel trends we’ve seen, especially within leisure. We have to say, ‘I know you feel this is a major issue, but if we look at the impact of X, Y, Z, it’s really not an issue.’”
Another member continued, “It’s almost a bit of an uphill battle, where you have ownership groups or asset managers picking up on those snippets coming off Wall Street and similar sources, but they don’t necessarily apply, to the same degree, to all your markets or locations, especially when you operate internationally. The amount of energy required to counteract this and provide data to debunk this takes away from doing those more essential tasks.”
Be aware of trend bias.
“When I see trends reports being published, I always look at the source and think about their potential angle and their objectivity,” one member expressed. “Practitioners should be the ones who are identifying the trends and sharing them with industry publications. And it should be a priority, as practitioners are the ones experiencing and working through these times.”