Evolve or Die Out!
November 5, 2014 11:13am
by Georges Panayotis
You can’t stop a speeding train, but you can try to hop on when the opportunity arises. The sharing economy is progressively changing all the economic models of the market economy. Rather than despair once again about disloyal competition, it is important to see how the model could be used intelligently within the hotel industry.
That does not mean political leaders should not be encouraged to do their legislative work and reestablish acceptable and fair rules for all actors on the marketplace. But the movement is too far along to hope it will disappear. The market always wins.
What can we learn from the sharing economy? First that it makes it possible to better exploit available resources and above all that it does not exclude the notion of service, an area where hoteliers have a certain expertise. Is a collaboration between individuals who put an original offer on the market and local hoteliers who provide added value unthinkable? No door should be closed. The fierce battle between hoteliers and tourism residence promoters ended with hoteliers intelligently recuperating a financing and management model that has advantages. In most large cities where there is a deficit of hotel rooms, apartment rentals and accommodations in private homes offer complementary solutions that do not affect the occupancy rate. On the other hand, why not grab a share of tourist spending by providing F&B services, fitness centers, and a business center…? Some original models, such as Mama Shelter, have their public. Hoteliers could be well inspired to further expand their range of services and work on their bottom-line profitability.
The other lesson to be learned from the sharing economy is precisely to leave everyone to work within their specialty. Within a collaborative framework, the division of tasks is profitable to partners who are able to find a common ground. Once again, F&B is not where hoteliers excel – with exception to luxury properties that offer an exceptional experience. The new formulas are closer to takeaway and dishes to reheat than to good regional gastronomy. Some hoteliers have already considered entrusting room-service to a nearby restaurant selected for its appealing menu. Other alliances remain to be invented as well. As a meeting place, the hotel has the legitimacy to become a service hub, like a traveler’s one-stop service center for booking reservations, theater, wellness, purchases of essential products, future travel, or even local services … if tourism is first and foremost a series of services, then why shouldn’t the hotel be the locomotive?
The sharing economy has no reason to limit itself to developing between individuals only. The door is already open to the temptations of grey business and disguised services. The hotel industry needs to move. It needs a strategy that is not just defensive, which is currently all too often the case. It alone is a sign that there has been a lack of forethought with respect to social phenomena. A successful strategy can be both bold and step out of the usual framework by relying on younger generations that are not afraid to hop over boundaries. It implies a need for hoteliers to open more generally to their local communities by involving them in welcoming visitors. It also means resuscitating the reflexes and tasks that were neglected too quickly to focus on management alone. Hospitality in the larger sense federates many complementary talents that we must work to bring together, and bring together to work.
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Contact: Georges Panayotis
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