The Chesapeake Point of View

Five Tips for Staying Ahead as Hospitality Booms

Five Tips for Staying Ahead as Hospitality Booms

November 28, 2017

Our industry is in the midst of a remarkable period of growth, with few signs of slowing. As summarized in Deloitte’s 2017 Travel and Hospitality Industry Outlook, business travel broke records at $1.2 trillion in 2015, and leisure travel shows steady growth outpacing the US’ GDP. The fundamentals behind this growth are strong - disposable income was up 3.4 percent at the end of 2016, as the job market continues to strengthen.

 However, a growing industry does not mean growing business for each hotel operator. In this period of unprecedented opportunity, competition is more intense than ever. Here are five core strategies to stay ahead during this historic race to the top:  

 Embrace technology

Ten years ago, how absurd would it have seemed to check into your flight on your phone and scan your screen all the way to your seat? Ten years from now, a room key will feel as antiquated as the paper boarding pass. Picking up the phone to call room service as opposed to clicking through your hotel app will be one conversation too many; and what good will the hotel’s entertainment system be when everyone has Netflix or Amazon Prime? What are we offering that they can’t already get?

 While we don’t need to solve all these challenges today, we must commit to a future strategy that embraces technology. Meet the vendors at the leading edge, build relationships and understand how technologies are developing. Determine how to incrementally enhance your tech offering over the next five to ten years, and start today.


Think globally

The booming global middle class will continue to be a seismic factor impacting our industry. According to Brookings, this group hit a whopping 3.2 billion in in 2016, and is expected to grow 120 million per year for the next five years. 88% of the next billion entrants into the middle class will be from Asia.

 I don’t care if you're the quaintest hotel in the most authentic Southern town in America, the emergent global middle class affects you. Begin to think about what kind of travelers are coming to your region from areas with rapidly growing spending power, and how you can more effectively target those consumers throughout their decision-making process.

 “Coming to America? Well, you need to see the birthplace of Coke amidst the classic charm of Atlanta, and the only place to stay is...”

 What starts as trickle could explode to 50% of your business over the next ten years. To stay ahead of the curve, start today.


Become the culture, deliver experience

Beyond restaurants, bars and yoga, hotels need to think about how they play a deeper role in a guest’s travel experience. Ultimately, capturing more attention during a guest’s time in a city necessitates becoming a deeper part of that locale’s culture. 

 While not every property gets to be a Hawaiian resort hosting traditional Hula, a hotel in Seattle could have its own roaster and master barista, a property in Brooklyn could have onsite glass blowing, while a roadhouse in Tennessee could host blues in a hip downstairs where they still their own moonshine (legally, of course).

 For less than the investment needed to create a competitive restaurant, properties can create remarkable experiences that truly contribute to a locale - capturing more overall guest attention and, ultimately, revenue.


Double down on fundamentals

Above all else, hospitality is a ground game -  the individuals shaping experience at each hotel, and the team cultures they create, will continue to define success well into the future.

 A warm welcome at the valet, and a front desk team that remembers the last time you were here. That perfectly made room, and a concierge that knows the best restaurants for every occasion. Those fundamentals will always be the cornerstone of any hotel stay. With all the attention on apps and new markets, we must double down on recruiting and cultivating the best talent.



If you have money to invest, now is the time. This remarkable period of growth is no bubble. While no one can know the future, what we’re seeing is underpinned by national and global economic trends that show no signs of slowing down. Leverage this opportunity to underpin the strength of your operations and invest in growth. One thing’s for sure, the competition is.