Rising Stars - Trends To Watch In The Small Hotels Industry
The 90s and 00s were all about big, flashy resorts. But people are now getting sick of the crowded and impersonal experience which is often an unfortunate aspect of larger, corporate hotel chains. The rise of sites like Airbnb has led to an upsurge in demand for smaller, more 'homely', friendlier and more personable vacation experiences. While hotels are certainly not in any danger of losing out to couch-surfing sites just yet, people are increasingly favoring boutique hotels over large resorts. As such, small hoteliers are waking up to the potential inherent within their sleepy, friendly businesses, and the marketplace is evolving quickly. Here are a few of the latest trends to watch within the small hotel industry.
Travelling can be a complex process, payment-wise. One of the major advantages of larger hotel chains is that they often offer inclusive packages, combining flights, accommodation, and cheap travel insurance. This eliminates a lot of the hassle inherent in travel, which explains why resorts and chain hotels were so popular in the era before the internet became ubiquitous. Now, most things can be done online, making everything much easier and eliminating much of the need for a resort-style package. However, it is still a great convenience to travelers if hotels are flexible with their payment options. Smaller hotels may have restrictions regarding currency and even card payments which can make travel complex for people from other nationalities. Several small hoteliers are therefore working hard to bring their payment systems in line with current trends. Expect to see mobile payments, contactlesss payment, and more currency flexibility in the very near future.
Gone are the days of vacation brochures and travel agents. In the age of social media, more and more vacations are effectively crowdsourced - drawn from personal recommendations upon social networks and review sites. While travel agents had by necessity to provide an experience which would draw in the maximum amount of people, vacationers in this day and age are able to find a much more personalised, niche experience precisely suited to their needs and identities. We in the age of social media are able to construct our own identities and find groups which fit in with very specific aspects of our characters more than ever before. Research has found twelve distinct personality types which play out on social media, all of which are looking for differing hotel experiences, and all of which interact and react differently to their vacation providers on the internet. Smaller hotels are uniquely placed to provide a niche, personalised experience, and to build up customer bases via social media as a consequence. Expect to see small hotels heading in very specific directions as they cater to the niche needs of their target audience, and to be doing much more informal business via social media.
Vacation By Democracy
Overall, the rise of social media and the growing preference for more personalised experiences has seen the vacations industry slipping from the hands of big conglomerates, and customers distributing themselves more evenly amongst the smaller operators. The internet has proven a wonderful levelling agent in almost every business - but small hotels have particularly benefited. People are now far more able to not only source the vacation (and hotel) they’d really like to stay in (without the need for compromises of convenience), but to bypass the big agencies in so doing. They can also spread both their experiences and recommendations far and wide via social media. Furthermore, small hoteliers are able to reach a wider audience than ever before without the need for the kinds of hugely expensive advertising campaigns which bigger conglomerates have used to corner the market in the past. This is resulting in a wide swathe of changes across the board in the travel industry. As smaller hotels find customers which they would never have been able to reach bin years gone by without enormous corporate resources, so they become far more viable and profitable businesses. Observing this, lenders (previously notoriously resistant to opening the purse-strings for small scale hospitality ventures) are becoming more likely to help fund small hotel start-ups, and put out loans for the further development of existing ventures. All in all, the internet-led democratisation of the travel industry is seeing smaller, independent hotels adapting, occupying niches, and developing in a manner which is taking them from strength to strength, while corporate ventures struggle to keep their hold on the market.
"post written by Anne Jackson "