For decades, India’s hospitality entities had been doing business in tried-and-tested fashion, too warm in their comfort zones to risk any innovation or change. The digital era has changed all that. Upstarts have challenged the reputed companies with disruptive innovations. Globally, technology has emerged as the biggest business disruptor of all time in myriad sectors. Hospitality is no exception as it has also witnessed the swift rise of innovators. Nevertheless, it should be noted that technology has helped transform industries too, taking them to higher orbits.
In an elaborate interview with stoodnt.com, Sagar Chitre, Principal, ITM IHM, shared insights on the major trends that are changing the hospitality industry.
Chitre feels that the dynamism of the hospitality industry requires hotel organizations to invest in solutions that create personalized guest experiences and augment guest loyalty. “The contemporary needs, desires of guests (authenticity of destination experiences, eco-conscious facilities, and increasing demand for adventure) have led to the emergence of trends to improve guest relationships and stay competitive. The rapid advances in technology continue to revolutionize guests’ preferences and habits in terms of choices and reservations,” he shared.
The Millennial Profile
The “Guest” profiles are changing by the day, bringing in more millennials that experience these hotel services. Their demand for inclusion of technology at all service touch points is one of the major force in changing trends in the industry. This tech-savviness results in them opting to post online pictures, sharing content of experiences and reviews digitally.
“Being empowered with more knowledge and social media, these new guests are compelling hotels’ efforts to improve the quality of product and services within an experience. Constantly engaging with guests on social media platforms is the new pledge and forms a pre-requisite to positive relationships, loyalty and drives future bookings. Smart hoteliers are ensuring that websites are user-friendly, and updated, capitalize on technology (presence across various social media platforms) and deliver genuine and pro-active responses to retain customers/guests,” opined the expert.
Emergence of the parallel industry
Hotels exist in a shared economy of membership clubs, homestays, and emerging lifestyle brands. With new hospitality services like Airbnb, continuing to gain a major share in the segment; hotels are creating sub-brands to respond to the needs of customization and unique, meaningful and experiential.
Chitre maintained that guests now opt for ‘dining’ experiences beyond the hotel’s food and beverage outlets. “There is a growing emphasis on local varieties or indigenous produce as guests intend to explore the diversity of the region/destination. Hotels are recreating these through the masterclass sessions in restaurants or lobby areas, wine appreciation in the lounge or trails to organic farms and experience of preparing organic meals, or destination specific events,” he notified.
Cultural learning and conscious living is the dictum of ‘greener’ travelers. According to Chitre, the majority of guests consider social responsibilities and community initiatives that the hotel organization is involved in and would serve as millennials will prefer to book reservations at hotels that engage in environmental or community responsible programmes. “While hotels are determined to cater to personalized service and customized service encounters, they should do so in a manner that minimizes its impact on the environment and respects communities,” he warned.
The future of the hospitality industry is firmly linked with technology and its application on one side and active engagement with personalization on the other.