Will the Hotel Industry Become a White Label? by Georges Panayotis
December 4, 2013 12:43pm
The modern hotel industry began with the import of new concepts from the United States. Back then, standardization brought security and innovation, and a real breakthrough compared to the comfort of lodgings. Communication relied on a real promise that attracted clients and built their loyalty to these young brands. Since then, improvement has been constant, certainly, but where is the great innovation? Where is the 'wow effect' that calls out to the client and allows for real differentiation? Each hotel group monitors and copies competition, leaving on time to create a real difference.
With asset-light strategies, the deployment of new concepts expands in time as the investment load is transferred to property owners and franchisees. In the retail sector, major suppliers have been forced to offer major retailers "white label" products that rely on the communication power of those in charge of distribution. The OTAs are no different. They are taking over the hotel products and selling them under their name. Is this the future of hospitality, a "white label" universe whose rooms are interchangeable at each price level?
The fast-food sector felt a similar threat of becoming a mere commodity, and recently reoriented its communications towards "authentic" values and a focus on products. Paradoxically, junk food has been renewed by highlighting its "Protected Appellation of Origin" meats, its local potatoes or diet control information. We could discuss a gap between the client promise and flabby burgers actually coming out of the grill, but the message gets across. A real differentiation exists between brands, recognized by the public. Why doesn't the hotel industry follow the same path? Striving - collectively - to communicate on the comfort of the bed is not what will create genuine popular support. Innovation is down, or rather, it's hard to disseminate quickly on a large scale to create a real shock. Outlying sectors are more reactive, between new generation hostels and chic campsites.
It is urgent to focus again on research & development and support the creation of new concepts and to better think of what personnel can bring. The concept of service is not as valued anymore as it should be. It comes to new features that are closer to the customer, to create that personal connection that is the basis of Hospitality. Careers in hotel operations are losing their prestige and hospitality schools are training classes that prefer asset management or financial management to the management of daily operations. Service is no longer the noble path and yet the models of Nespresso boutiques and Apple Stores give an example. It will then be time to communicate with the tools and resources necessary to capture customers who will detach themselves from unmarked products sold through online distribution.
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Contact: Georges Panayotis
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