12 Trends to Watch in 2012
With preparations well under way for the London 2012 Olympic Games the UK’s hotel industry is bracing itself for one of its busiest and most lucrative years in its history. EatSleepDrink identifies the 12 trends that look likely to define the industry in the coming year.
- Mobile rooms: Much like the food and drink sectors, the UK’s hotel industry is becoming increasingly switched on to social media and technology to consolidate occupancy rates. In 2011, social media was at the forefront of tourism marketing activity – a trend that looks set to multiply this year. Mobile applications on smartphones, androids and iPhones are just one way that hotel chains are simplifying the process of booking rooms and with it, opening up a whole new market of potential guests.
- Going green: From chains to independents, environmental responsibility is no longer an aspiration but a reality and one which looks sure to strengthen in the next 12 months. Composting schemes utilised by the likes of Exclusive Hotels (pg. ) and Radisson Edwardian’s plans to reduce its carbon footprint by 10 per cent in 2012 are just two examples of the strides that the industry is taking to improve its green credentials.
- Free for all: With the UK’s hotel industry becoming ever-more competitive, properties are going to great lengths to offer guests that little bit extra. Indeed, brands such as Radisson Edwardian already offer free WiFi to guests and it will surely not be long until other chains follow suit. Given the 900,000 or so visitors expected for the 2012 Olympics, free internet is just one way that hotels are looking to win tourist’s custom.
- Fun of the games: Initially started in the US, ‘Gamification’ – or the integration of gaming dynamics in non-gaming environments – is spreading to the UK hotel sector. Through social media outlets, such as Twitter (www.twitter.com) and Facebook (www.facebook.com), hotel companies are running frequent competitions that encourage brand interaction with the promise of free rooms, meals and drinks. Indeed, by encouraging customers and potential guests to take part in such contests, hotels generate brand awareness and loyalty. With the increasing proliferation of social media across a variety of platforms, this kind of social media marketing looks certain to dominate the industry for the foreseeable future.
- Standing out from the crowd: Despite the hoards of tourists arriving for the 2012 Olympics, many hotels are not taking the risk of passive bookings. Look out for loyalty schemes, discounted rates and pop-up hotel experiences around the Olympic sites. Indeed, hotels that have no clear marketing strategy may well find themselves medal-free, while those that have prepared in advance will be sleeping easy.
- Catering to the masses: In order to cater to the expected influx of international tourists, we’re anticipating a move towards increasingly exotic food and drinks menus in our hotels in 2012. Expect to see a particular focus on Far Eastern and South American cuisine and an increase in overseas cocktails, lagers and wines. Contrarily, many hotels will be using the Olympics as a shop window to display the best of the UK’s wines, foods and ingredients in order to attract guests through the door.
- The power of price: Although many media outlets are predicting universal price hikes in hotel rooms up and down the UK, it may well be the case that a number of our most popular brands absorb extra running costs and freeze rates in order to guarantee maximum occupancy rates. As a leading MD told us, “What’s the point in increasing rates if we’re only filling half of our rooms up?!”
- Best of budget: Despite the financial crisis and the high rates of VAT in 2011, 55 per cent of the new hotels that opened last year were in the budget hotel sector. According to the annual publication of the British Hospitality Association (BHA), over 7,100 new budget rooms added in 2011, while 14,575 are forecast this year in preparation for 2012 Olympics. With so many guests looking for affordable accommodation, chains such as Travelodge look set to reap the rewards of their aggressive growth strategy.
- False reviews: The phenomenal success of hotel review website TripAdvisor (www.tripadvisor.com) has already done much to shake up the industry, with many leading members of the hotel sector expressing concerns that the website is open to manipulation, such as false or defamatory reviews. However, with its popularity increasing, the industry will be placing greater importance on ensuring that all complaints – whether fictional or real – are dealt with immediately in order to avoid any bad press in the build up to such a vital period.
- Space matters: Given the importance of making every space count in 2012, hotels face the difficult situation of maximising space without increasing expenditure. Expect to see discounts for longer stays and incentivisation, such as free dinners and drinks vouchers, as hotels look to lure in guests for two nights instead of one in order to cover costs and boost their balance sheets.
- A juggling act: Although the industry is undoubtedly focused on the Olympics, it is worth remembering that many guests will have little interest in the Games themselves. Hotels that ignore business visitors do so at their peril and may risk losing long-term clients for the sake of short-term profits.
- Bread and butter: With so much attention lavished on the UK’s largest tourism opportunity in living memory, we’re expecting to see hotels go the extra mile for their guests. It is, however, worth noting that the proof is in the pudding. Should our hotels provide the basics well – spotless rooms and bathrooms, comfortable beds and attentive service – then these little extras, such as free WiFi and competitions for free rooms, may well make all the difference.
Did we miss anything? Something you’d like to add? Get in touch with us: email@example.com