The big don't eat the small, the fast eat the slow, and hotels need to move quickly in these transient times, says Danny Pecorelli, managing director of Exclusive Hotels.
Giving the key note speech on the second day of the Annual Hotel Conference 2016 at the Hilton Manchester Deansgate hotel, Pecorelli said the current pace of change in the hospitality industry is the fastest he has ever seen it, and told delegates that hoteliers need to keep up, with change are presenting both challenges and opportunities.
"We have got to be so much more than hotels," he said, particularly focusing on the concept of ‘Instagram moments' and the importance of the experiential. He said young customers want to take ‘that perfect Instagram shot' and show off that the experience they're having is better than their friends' experience. "We spend a lot of time making sure there are plenty of spaces where the client is going to take that shot," he said, adding that hotels also have to be constantly evolving the experience.
Pecorelli joked that guests cooking their own dinners in the company's Lainston House's Season cookery school, for example, was both an experience and a way to keep costs down.
He also stressed that hoteliers today need to be restaurateurs. "Food is really sexy at the moment. We have to think about our restaurants competing with other restaurants, not as an add-on to the hotel," he said, and that hotels need to be aware of changing trends in food.
Hotels need to be fast to adapt to changing legislation, such as wage legislation and the Apprenticeship Levy, as well as things like Brexit and disruptors like OTAs, in order to survive. Pecorelli highlighted the National Minimum Wage as one of the biggest challenges for operators and warned of the reputational risk hospitality firms run by failing to comply. Earlier this year the government publicly named and shamed 200 businesses, including several hospitality businesses, who failed to pay their workers the National Minimum Wage. "You need to understand what can trip you up otherwise you can end up on that list," he warned delegates.
"Another real challenge for hotel operators is hotel IT," he added, suggesting that hotels are competing with the online travel agent technology companies and pointed out that, of the top five travel and tourism spenders on Google AdWords, Marriott is the only hotel. "The technology we have available to us is severely lagging behind the technology companies. We need to look at how we can compete without the access to this technology."
Ultimately, he stressed, hotels need to be quick to understand what is happening in the world of hospitality, what the opportunities are, and stay ahead of the curve.
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