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by Georges Panayotis

Without getting overly nostalgic, one might wonder if hotel accommodations have succeeded in accommodating clientele for all of life's circumstances. Hotels have always been the natural alternative for travelers unable to stay with friends or family. Whether travel is for vacation or a cousin's wedding, seminar or business, for a few days or a few weeks, the hotel industry has offered, and should continue to offer a solution at a reasonable price. 

Between lack of foresight regarding changing needs and lack of means to change the legislation, hoteliers have wound up focusing on short-stay business travelers, who appear to be the easiest to satisfy and the most profitable. As a result, families on holiday and interns in training have changed their habits and are staying at tourism residences or city residences, which are better adapted to their needs. 

Which came first, the chicken or the egg? A similar question may be applied to the long-term accommodations market. Lack of change or fiscal lobbying by developers, wherein lies the responsibility for this situation and the hotel industry’s loss of market shares? It is next to impossible to regain a lost customer... lose ten and they’re gone forever! Unlike American “long stay” concepts, European hotel offers have not worked well. The “en suite” version of traditional rooms has not caught on due to a lack of coherence or marketing and excessive difficulty in the coexistence of clientele with different needs. 

Paradoxically, efficient hybrid products have been developed around accommodations for young travelers. Between the youth hostel revisited, event-filled student residences and communal accommodations, some concepts are making a real breakthrough that attracts investors. At the same time, AirBnB and other collaborative strategies have developed by making full accommodations available at very competitive prices. 

It is high time the hotel industry reexamined itself concerning the essential issue of servuction meaning the efficient production of services expected by the customers of today’s and future generations. It is useless to refer to the fundamentals of observation marketing that were developed thirty years ago or so, but at a crossroads it can be useful. Today, digital technology is creating a smokescreen. It is seen as a solution while it is only a tool at the service of essential principals that have not changed much over the years: working on added value and differentiation; improving the property’s reputation and customer loyalty; reinforcing quality control and personalized customer relations. 

While, the methodology is similar, the result should naturally be adapted to the times by redefining product and services depending on behavioral changes. IT offers the enormous advantage of being able to control previously dispersed tools more comfortably and with a more complete vision. But the plane does not do all the work, fortunately the pilot is able to maneuver and choose the right direction. The same is true for the hotel industry; the essentials of the trade must not be forgotten just because IT has entered into play at all levels of decision making. The hotel industry can and must reinvent itself as it has done over time, but time is running short as the rate of transformations has accelerated.

About Georges Panayotis

Georges Panayotis is President of MKG Consulting. Born in a family of hoteliers for three generations, Georges Panayotis, 51, left Greece at the age of 18 to pursue his studies in Political Sciences and to obtain his Master in Management at the French University of Paris Dauphine. He then joined the Novotel chain, which will become the Accor Group, to manage the International Marketing Division. After developing specific marketing tools for the hotel industry, he left the group in 1986 to start his own company, MKG Conseil, now MKG Group. In twenty years, the group has become the European leader in studies and consulting for the Hospitality industry. The company employs over 70 people in four departments: marketing studies, database, quality control and trade press, with two publications HTR Magazine and Hotel Restaurant Weekly. The company helped the development of over 2,000 hotels in France and in Europe, with offices in Paris, Cyprus and London. Georges Panyotis is the founder of the Worldwide Hospitality Awards and the Hotel Makers Forum, and the author of several publications on Marketing and Operations in the hotel business, He is a regular consultant for several television channels, among which Bloomberg Television, and radio networks.

Contact: Georges Panayotis

g.panayotis@mkg-group.com

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