Nowadays in business, change is probably the only constant. More so in the hospitality industry where new trends, products and services constantly keep emerging. Liesl Venter spoke to Charl van Wyk, operations director at Bon Hotels, about the top changes impacting the hotel industry that corporates should look out for in the next few years.
One of the major changes the hotel industry is currently experiencing, says Van Wyk, is maintaining the balance of online travel agent bookings (OTA’s) versus direct bookings.
“The current trend visible is that OTA’s are bidding for majority of the online space, through paid advertising to increase their ranking and visibility – the bidding allocation, which can normally not be matched by individual hotels or groups,” he explains.
“The revenue and marketing strategy, directly from hotel level, would be to analyse the amount of bookings accepted via the OTA platform, due to commission structures in some cases adding up to 30% per booking,” he says.
Value-add has become one of those much-used business terminologies that enters the conversation more often than not. But what exactly does it mean?
According to Van Wyk, greater emphasis is being put on unique selling points of hotels often marketed as the value-add.
“Wi-Fi and parking for instance are expected to be offered as a complimentary offering and not an available service, which can be purchased. These are also no longer value adds,” he says.
“When we refer to value-added services expected from conference organisers or corporate companies, it is clear that hotels, which offer good-quality projection and sound equipment within their day conference packages (DCP) would be more likely to ‘seal the deal’, comparing to a hotel charging extra for such equipment.”
The experience era
Bespoke experiences are fast becoming the norm. “Delegates are expecting a more comfortable experience,” says Van Wyk, but at the same time they want this to be cost-effective versus what they have within their own offices. “So what is the experience at a hotel when compared to hosting a conference or an event within our own office?”
As hotels work harder to deliver experiences, they are also continuously investing in their spaces while at the same time they have to deal with real market disruptors such as AirBnB and ride-sharing services. The ability to deliver an authentic experience within a community where visitors are able to dip their toes into and experience cultures is a driving change element that the hotel industry has to deal with. Hotels are being forced to pay attention to guests’ needs - not only while in the hotel but also outside of it.
Due to the fact that the pace of the corporate environment is increasing rapidly, business travellers are under pressure to deliver - meaning time becomes of an essence.
“The corporate travellers are rushing from meeting to meeting,” says Van Wyk. “This is visible in that the request for room-only rates are in demand. This current trend, however, is minimising the incremental spend, usually generated on food and beverage revenue.”
Whilst this does put emphasis on budgets, it also offers the opportunity for the industry to focus on that which is at its heart – people. Creativity and innovation focusing on the people will be a key trend in the hospitality industry in the coming years.