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2012 Hospitality Trends and Priorities


The general industry outlook is that 2012 is going to be a good year.  But in order to capitalize on that you need to do everything in your power to leverage your property to attract vacationers.


No doubt demand is still not at the peak of a few years ago but if you're in a great location and strong vacation rental market you can take advantage of the latest trends and feel comfortable that you will attract vacationing consumers.  For many locations however, the consumer is still in charge of the market.


More and more travelers, particularly the under 40 group, are tied to their mobile devices- whether it's their iPhone, iPad, or other equally powerful tablet computer - and you can be assured that they are using them to check for the latest deals, best places to go, and guest reviews. With so many choices and deep discounts everywhere, you must give your guests a reason to vacation in your properties.  As many clients have heard me say in the past, the hotel industry has done a masterful job of training the guest and as a result you can be pretty certain that most guests will look elsewhere first before choosing to visit the same resort area again.


Meeting and exceeding guest expectations and charging a fair rate for the property and the services you provide are part of what defines great value.  Newer and recently updated properties will always command the best rates.  If a property has been updated then make sure it's mentioned in the online description.  If you have older properties, which most companies do, if renovations haven't been completed you just might find yourself as the least desirable of several vacation rental options.  It's almost impossible to raise rates in an aging property.  If a complete renovation is out of the question then at the very least sit down with the owner of the rental property and decide what the most important issues are and set a timeline for completion.  In other words, be a property manager, offering good advice and guidance on the industry rather than being reduced to begging.  In my experience, the managers that take a positive stand and provide excellent information on industry trends will always outperform those that don't put in the same kind of effort.


It's important that the property reflect the location, the culture, the experience - "a sense of place".  Figure out who your target customer is and cater to them.  Once you know your guest, then you can start thinking about their expectations and needs. 


Anyone who knows me has heard me say Wi-Fi is absolutely vital to attract guests.  It's probably one of the most important amenities that a property can offer (free of charge - of course!).  According to TripAdvisor, 54 percent of travelers have canceled a prior reservation due to finding better amenities at another property.  Amenities in the TripAdvisor study also included complimentary or discounted tickets, recommendations, or shuttle services as some of the items that drew potential guests.


In the end it all comes down to value (in the mind of the guest).  No one like surprises in travel unless they involve upgrades, free nights, and maybe an expensive bottle of champagne to help erase a disappointing experience.  It almost goes without saying that every property should be clean and in good condition.  While the Luxury segment is recovering first, I'm stunned when I look at vacation rental websites with properties described as "Luxury" that have beds with no headboards, cheap bedcoverings, vertical blinds, no bedside lamps, no nightstand, mishmash of styles, cheap wicker furniture.  All these items might have a place but trust me; it's not in the Luxury category.  This ultimately translates into accurate online descriptions. 


2012 may be deemed to be a good year but owners should beware of sitting back and waiting for business to pick up.  While a more solid recovery may be in store for 2013, waiting on the sidelines is a dangerous course of action as you will be like many vacation rentals I visit.  Always playing catch up and never quite up to the "new" standards.  They finally get the picture and decide to upgrade but by the time they put a plan in action the market has moved ahead yet again.



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Sources:  Hotel Management, Hotel Interactive's Glenn Haussman 2012 Trend Watch and interview with Gensler's Barbara Best-Santos.  Daniel Edward Craig, consultant specializing in social media strategy and online reputation management for the travel industry.

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Linda Stajdel
Posts: 19
Reply #1 on : Sat February 11, 2012, 06:30:41
I have been updating my townhouse for the last 3 years. By doing so, I have doubled my rentals, by far the most important thing we have done. We added Wi-Fi which is a must. I offer wine on arrival. Special soaps for the bath as well as top of the line linens. My next purchases will be a wii and some games. My objective is to make my townhouse feel as if is "home for our guest".
Soon, We will have a "Mouse Villa" near Disney in Florida. It will be a Luxury Villa with 4 bedrooms and 3.5 baths. This will have every top of the line amenity offered. After a busy day at the attractions, come home to a pristine luxury villa.
Last Edit: March 23, 2012, 16:45:07 by lhogan  
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