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Monday, 12 March, 2018, 16 : 54 PM [IST]

Milestones and Disruptions

Jean-Michel Casse, Chief Operating Officer, India and South Asia, AccorHotels
In the last decade, the global hospitality industry has had to transform itself. From adapting to changing consumer needs to establishing limited-service and extended-stay hotels to combating the rise of online travel agencies (OTAs) or even integrating technology into the value chain, through it all, the industry has reinvented itself while consistently growing.

Technology, mobility and user experience have truly revolutionized the way the hospitality industry works. Here are some key trends that have caused the transformation:

  • Advent of Online Travel Agents - Online Travel Agencies and aggregators such as ClearTrip, MakeMyTrip, and Expedia have forced hotels to rethink their distribution and booking strategy. As OTAs and aggregators circumvented traditional methods of making room reservations while offering cheaper room rates, hotels redefined their booking systems to attract guests by integrating their websites as booking tools.
  • Increased mobility – The proliferation of mobile phones has played an integral role in changing consumers attitudes and usage patterns. The mobile has allowed consumers to research hotels, book rooms and even manage their trips on the go. To ensure that consumers are always able to access hotels, hotels implemented and launched their mobile application. Moreover, they also ensured that their websites were mobile friendly to avoid losing customers.
  • Technological proliferation – Technological advances have spurred innovation, transforming how the industry works. From supplementing check-ins digitally to room selections – via a mobile application; moreover, automation of the user experience like automated room lights to ordering towels has made the user experience seamless, enhanced and more efficient.
  • Arrival of Airbnb and alternative accommodations – A vacuum in providing accommodation to a diverse set of travellers, gave rise to alternative stays and Airbnb. Although the industry was apprehensive of such accommodations, fearing that they might lose revenues and bookings to such providers. However, quite the opposite happened. The aggregation of individually owned addresses onto a platform allowed for a diverse set of travellers into the fold.
  • Increasing inbound tourist arrival in India and increase in domestic travel – In the past decade, India had witnessed an explosive growth of international and domestic travellers. In 2017, international travellers grew by 14.7 percent between January to February accounting for 1.94 million travellers compared to 1.69 million travellers in the same period in the previous year. In addition to that, with increasing, disposable income levels and affordable travel has led to the growth of domestic tourism. Both factors have played an essential role in the growth of various segments of hotels and pushed hotel chains to expand rapidly.
  • Changing consumer demands and needs – In the last five years, the hospitality industry has undergone a formidable change in the way they approach their consumers. Consumers’ expectations have changed considerably. They now demand a personalized, unique and localized experience, directing hotels to shift their focus from concepts, brands and products to guest experiences. With a shift in power from the hotels to the consumer, hotels have taken a step back to ensure that they offer customized experiences to match expectations.

“  Millennials makeup one-third of the
world’s hotel guests today, and is
expected to grow to 50 percent by
2020. As an influential consumer,
they have disrupted the industry
with their expectations. In addition to
expecting meaningful and personalised
experiences, millennials have effected
way hotels provide services to guests.  ”

  • Catering to Millennials – According to, Millennials makeup one-third of the world’s hotel guests today, and is expected to grow to 50 percent by 2020. As an influential consumer, they have disrupted the industry with their expectations. In addition to expecting meaningful and personalised experiences, millennials have effected way hotels provide services to guests. From offering free amenities such as WI-FI, they have forced hotels to also ensure that they are consistently mobile friendly at all touch points. Moreover, hotels have incorporated automation before, during and after staysfor example, ordering room service via an application or in-room entertainment.
  • Consolidation within the industry – Over the past few decades, increasing consumer demand gave birth to stand alone hotels and small and medium-sized hotel chains. As larger hospitality chains battled for maximum global market share, consolidation within the industry, was only a matter of time. In the last few years alone, we have witnessed the acquisition of Starwood by Marriott and AccorHotels acquiring FRHI Holdings Ltd (FRHI), the parent of brands such as Fairmont, Raffles, and Swissôtel not only strengthening the number of hotels and solidifying their position globally. India is also not immune to this global trend, for example, Paris-based Louvre Hotels Group acquired a controlling stake in Indian hospitality chain Sarovar Hotels Ltd.
  • Diversification of products and services – While the hospitality industry has been growing, we have also seen larger brands diversify their portfolio to provide better offerings to consumers. For example, AccorHotels has invested in businesses and brands that can allow us to offer innovative and extra services to our guests such as John Paul, a premium concierge that offers travelers the best experience before, during and after their stays.
As the hospitality industry continues to adapt and transform itself, we will also continue to witness influx of new travellers into the fold, demanding the disruption every five years.

The views expressed within this column are the opinion of the author, and may not necessarily be endorsed by the publication.
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