Room to Run?

The outlook for North American hotels in the year ahead – a case of cautious optimism
The good times seem to keep rolling for North American hoteliers, in spite of many prophets of doom predicting an imminent downturn. According to Joakim Johansson, vice president, global business consulting at American Express Global Business Travel, “Despite signs that the global economy is facing challenges, the number of people traveling for business and leisure continues to grow.”

And even though in most cities, a full hotel development pipeline means this sustained level of demand will not feed into big rate rises, hotel markets are still dynamic and actively responding to the changing demographics of business travel.

“The next generation of business travelers are changing both markets and mindsets. This group sees business travel as a major work perk, but also recognizes there are inherent challenges associated with work trips,” states Kelly Phillips, senior vice president sales, customer engagement and industry relations at Hilton. With that in mind, hotels are offering a host of new services to cater to their needs.

The Technology Driver
Technology is pervasive in the travel industry and its presence and influence will continue to grow. “That same trend significantly impacts hotels, from shopping and booking to traveler experience and payment,” says Laura Kusto, senior director of hotel solutions at BCD Travel. “Travelers today expect digital interactions that are easy, seamless and omnichannel. Virtual check-in, location-based services, smart rooms, digital concierges and virtual payment are just a few examples of the technology hotels are embracing today in response to the changing travel landscape demographics.”

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