Consumer Trends

The Washington Post has an interview with the legendary Bill Marriott where the veteran hotelier is mildly dismissive of fads and the notion of hip. With just about every major chain retooling for Gen X and Y customers, Marriott has so far focussed on classic hostelry with nary a nod towards what Bill Marriott dismisses as “hip, splashy changes”. Nevetheless, the company is focussing on maximizing revenue from the hitherto limited use of hotel lobbies to generate NOI. But with a mere 35 odd hotels slated for the new “A.M. comfort, P.M. cool” lobby look, is it a case of too little too late?

In trying to be sensitive to the capital costs – almost always foisted on independent owners – the company appears to be taking a guarded approach to ensure that content and design, rather than mere style, define the roll out. That is a good thing, as while the company has done exceedingly well over the past several decades, it was not always the case for owners. The eighties saw numerous troubled Marriott properties including the company’s own that resulted in the creation of Host Marriott over a decade ago with the latter being a repository for less appealing real estate while Marriott International had a healthy stream of revenues from management and franchise fees. Ultimately betting against Marriott’s remarkable acumen for the industry is definitely a bad idea. Classic almost always trump contemporary in any field.

Travel Daily News reports that consumer trends and attitudes are also the focus of the third annual “e-Marketing Insight Conference: Travel and Tourism Trends at the Amalfi Hotel” to be held in Chicago in late august. The conference is expected to cover all aspects of online marketing and includes the following areas of interest: e-mail marketing, web site design and navigation, organic and paid search engine marketing, online advertising networks, and new promotional technologies like blogging, RSS and podcasting. Decision analytics, stated to be a focus of the conference, is a big part of one of the world’s largest e-marketing efforts, the credit card industry. With the internet eating up larger chunks of the distribution pie each day, hotel companies big and small, that do not have a forward looking e-commerce strategy are going to be left behind no matter how much they invest in the brick and mortar of their assets. Gaining insights from such conferences should be de-rigueur for one and all.

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Vijay Dandapani

Co-founder and president of a New York based hotel company for 24 years. Grew the firm to five hotels in Manhattan and also developed a greenfield project at MacArthur airport, New York. Speaker at numerous prestigious forums including Economy Hotels World Asia, Lodging Conference, NYU, Columbia University Real Estate Roundtable, Baruch College's Zicklin School and ALIS. President and ceo of New York City Hotel Association since January 2017.

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