Puzzle Partner Ltd. · 9 Jul
Around the world and across industries, marketers now face arguably one of the toughest challenges of their careers. There is, after all, no universally established gold-standard for marketing during a wide-spread pandemic, because a global crisis of this magnitude is hardly 'textbook'. As the media coverage so often reiterates, we now find ourselves in uncharted territory.Although the importance of brand agility and frequent innovation is well-understood by business owners and B2B marketers, the coronavirus pandemic truly acts as a crash course in responsive strategy and innovative thinking. It's during times like these, that marketing teams will either pivot and thrive or become a victim of unprecedented global circumstances.According to a 2010 Harvard Business Review which surveyed the impact of past recessions on 4,700 companies,17% of companies didn't survive a recession, and 80% hadn't regained their pre-recession growth rate three years after the recession. Conversely, only 9% were able to outperform their competitors by at least 10% in revenue and profit growth following an economic downturn.
Puzzle Partner Ltd. · 2 Jul
After opening a hotel with his family in Marrakech in 2010, Pierre Chapoutot learned, first hand, the difficulties so often experienced by independent hotels when promoting their services and inspiring direct bookings.
Puzzle Partner Ltd. · 30 Jun
The term 'visionary' is hardly a novel concept, especially in an age so defined by digital expertise and thought leadership. But, what exactly defines a visionary? Is it an exceptional idea? A desire for continued innovation? Or, perhaps, foresight for what is to come in any given industry space? In the case of Einar Rosenberg, it is all of the above.
Puzzle Partner Ltd. · 16 Apr
These days, you can't help but notice that virtually every COVID-19 news clip has repeatedly depicted a person being screened for fever using some device that looks like it is from Star Trek. The use of the non-contact handheld infra-red thermometer has become, somewhat disturbingly, commonplace.
Puzzle Partner Ltd. · 24 Mar
It's been just over a week since the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus, or COVID-19, a global pandemic. Since then, the information surrounding the continued transmission of the virus has evolved at a rapid pace, taking business owners and employees across industries for a wild, and notably scary ride.
Puzzle Partner Ltd. · 10 Mar
Uncertain times are a catalyst for change, especially within the hospitality industry. Hospitality, after all, has always held a somewhat notorious reputation for being reluctant to change. While other sectors are, by nature, more malleable to new-edge advancements and best practices, our industry often takes its time, testing the waters long before making the commitment to dive in. That is until a global event inspires disruption that simply can't be ignored. A worldwide crisis, natural disasters, weather changes, the implementation of new laws, and, of course, economic and political instability all have a measurable, undeniable impact on how hotels and travel brands do business. But these variables do more than affect the financial success of these companies, and they often lead companies to look beyond their current way of doing business and look to alternatives methods. Key Disruptors Over the Last Twenty Years In 2001, we collectively grieved over the September 11th terrorist attacks. In 2003, the world was faced with the SARS epidemic, and, later in 2008, we experienced a significant recession. Of course, these are only some of the events over the last two decades, which were felt around the world. Still, their impact also represented a critical turning point for countless industries, - especially hospitality. Understandably, the September 11th terrorist attacks shook the global tourism industry almost immediately. International air travel experienced a sharp decline, while international tourism suffered its first year of negative growth since 1982. Following the attacks, America's national RevPAR experienced a monthly drop by 20 to 25% compared to the previous year, with an even more marked decrease in the indicator in New York and Washington. According to figures from the World Tourism Organization, a real growth recovery for international arrivals worldwide didn't occur until 2004. Economically, the attacks resulted in approximately $40 billion in insurance losses, making it one of the largest insured events ever. That being said, the hospitality industry has since been able to rebound from terrorism-related declines in a much quicker fashion, mainly with the help of proactive security and response measures that were implemented following the September 11th attacks. Since 2001, we've witnessed notable enhancements to security protocols including: - Increased global surveillance systems - Higher safety regulations during air travel - Stricter visa regulations We're also witnessing enhanced global integration with credit to rising international travel. This influx can be accredited to work and study abroad programs, as well as companies that send educators, volunteers, and workers abroad, and well-informed millennials who are eager to travel. Recovering from the SARS Outbreak In the case of the SARS epidemic, the total number of tourists from all countries to Malaysia fell by a fifth (20.5%) in 2003. Meanwhile, visitor arrivals in Hong Kong dropped by 57.9% between April and June 2003, while top-tier hotels suffered an 82% drop on average in occupancy compared to the same months in 2002. And after being indicated by the World Health Organization as having an outbreak, Toronto's hotel demand experienced a significant drop of about 30% a month for approximately six months. However, in the wake of the epidemic, hotels made monumental changes to their health and safety practices. Following the outbreak, properties began initiating thorough cleaning of guest rooms, public areas, and back-of-house areas. During low-occupancy months, hotels closed off some guest-room floors for intensive cleaning. Moreover, preventive measures were also implemented in food and beverage outlets of hotels, with restaurant and kitchen staff were required to wear face masks and gloves while they were serving customers and preparing food. Today, many hotel properties now rely on cutting-edge management technology to empower and optimize their housekeeping departments while maintaining strict brand standards and practices.
Puzzle Partner Ltd. · 29 Jan
I have a question for you. How do you get leads in this new economy? "A story is at its best when it's not intrusive, when it brings value to a platform's consumers, and when it fits in as a natural step along the customer's path to making a purchase," explains Gary Vaynerchuk, in his bestselling book, Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook.
Puzzle Partner Ltd. · 8 Jan
Two decades ago, if I were to have asked you what the world would look like in 2020, what would you have said? Would you have anticipated the steady rise of self-service technology, tools allowing for instant gratification across all aspects of our life, and artificial intelligence? The autonomous vehicle? The seemingly endless runway of possibility stretches before us, with the help of cutting-edge platforms that were once merely a futuristic concept?
Puzzle Partner Ltd. · 18 Dec
Every few years, a disruptor comes along in every industry—and it seems like one has now arrived in the hotel space. While living in San Diego in 2015, Amanda Szabo realized two things. Known for its beaches, parks, and inviting climate, San Diego had some incredible hotels to choose from, and this was as close to 'living in a vacation' as she would get. This gave way to her second realization. How can she experience those incredible local hotels, even if just for a day? After all, it didn't make sense to book an overnight room when she lived nearby. This sparked the idea for ResortPass. Amanda quickly discovered that there has long been a demand for enjoying hotel amenities without needing to book a room overnight, but hotels didn't have a way to service this need. The concept presented an easy and profitable way for hotels to capitalize on an untapped segment of the market - hotel day guests.
Puzzle Partner Ltd. · 11 Dec
Within the hospitality industry, we are frequently introduced to new, wide-spread economic trends. First, it was the "Mobile Era," then we got to know the "Age of the Consumer" and the "Experience Economy," and now, the term on everyone's mind? The "Expectation Economy." As we open our doors and usher in the savvy and informed travelers of today, we are met with a long list of heightened expectations that apply to each and every guest touchpoint. Within this modern economy, expectations are high, and so are the stakes for hoteliers. Guests are more informed, demanding, and less patient than ever before.
Puzzle Partner Ltd. · 26 Nov
Almost daily, employees enthusiastically circle a web address at the bottom of our receipt for us to complete a customer service survey, promising a chance to win a trip for two to some far-away beach, or maybe a shopping spree. Quite frankly, the prompt is so familiar most of us have grown accustomed to tuning it out as soon as the employee begins their spiel, pleasantly smiling as we gather our bags to leave the store. As we navigate a familiar app on our phone, posting to our Instagram account or playing a game, we're frequently interrupted by a reminder to rate the app, "How do you like using _____ ?". After we order an item from Amazon, we can expect to receive multiple emails from the last company we purchased from, prompting additional customer feedback. The message reads something like:
Puzzle Partner Ltd. · 14 Nov
There's a popular saying that reads, "Identity influences behavior." This proves to be an especially important understanding of hospitality. As industry leaders work to identify (and cater to) the entirety of the guest journey, from pre-stay to post-stay, we are constantly faced with the question like: What do guests want most, and why? What is their motivation for traveling? What makes an exceptional trip? Modern guest loyalty, after all, is earned, not given. Across each generational group and travel segment, hoteliers are implored to get closer with each guest to gain a deeper understanding of who they are, what they want and why, to provide precisely that experience. Recently, we've spent a great deal of time discussing those unique identities, motivations, and expectations that accompany each generational group when it comes to travel. From baby boomers to millennials, Generation X, and multi-generational travelers, there are no shortage of age-born influences at work to shape what is perceived as the 'ideal' trip. But within that discussion, we've yet to delve into a rather new, but ever-important, category: Skip-Generation Travel. Skip-gen travel is a growing segment represented by grandparents taking their grandchildren on holiday with them, rather than their children. Remember — identity influences behavior. With family playing such an integral role in a grandparent's identity, it should come as no surprise that the travel bug is being viewed as an opportunity for enhanced family connection. The cultivation of family and deep-rooted connections is, oftentimes, what brings family members together on foreign soil. Not to mention, with many grandparents living notable distances from their family members, a shared vacation represents an exciting way to bridge the gap and inspire closer relationships with young grandchildren. What Does the Modern Grandparent Look Like?
Puzzle Partner Ltd. · 15 Oct
In almost any industry, the success of a brand can be tied back to its ability to understand and pro-actively appeal to consumer buying behaviors. Anticipating that behavior often requires an in-depth dive into consumer preferences, and an on-going understanding of how those preferences and expectations vary across groups, scenarios, and other key differentiators.
Puzzle Partner Ltd. · 3 Oct
Anyone who has watched Dirty Dancing remembers the iconic line, "Nobody puts Baby in the corner." Well, hoteliers, what about baby boomers? Over the last few years, millennials have captured a great deal of attention across industries, with hospitality being no exception. Their unique travel behaviors and impressive buying power have generated sizeable interest from hoteliers around the globe, who are eager to tap into their psyche and earn the loyalty of this generational group. With that said, however, millennials only account for those born between 1980 and 1999. Although influential, they do not comprise the entirety of today's tech-savvy travelers with a penchant and the budget for travel, and it's important not to discount their generational counterparts. Let me put it this way: no hotelier should put baby boomers in the corner. Why? Because they are still a dominating and lucrative group who, you may be surprised to learn, are only just reaching their peak earning and travel years. Born between 1946 and 1964, Baby boomers bring to the table a well-rounded set of expectations when engaging with prospective hotels, and actively seek out authentic, personalized and memorable travel experiences. With that said, we've pulled together some of the major travel trends and habits of baby boomers, to better inform hoteliers of exactly what boomers expect from a hotel. 1. Baby Boomers have a Budget for Travel Primarily 'empty-nesters' it should come as no surprise that baby boomers have the time, budget, and desire to travel. According to AARP Travel's '2019 Boomer Travel Trends', boomers were planning on taking a total of 4-5 leisure trips this year, on which they planned to spend over $6,600 (about 20% to 50% more than their Gen X or millennial counterparts). These trips were projected to be split relatively evenly between domestic and international travel.
Puzzle Partner Ltd. · 19 Sep
Over the past few years, millennials (individuals born between 1982 and 2000) have received special attention, as leaders across industries speak to their growing presence, impressive buying power, and unique buying behaviors. However, while millennials may be the future, the decision to turn our sights away from the baby boom generation would be irrevocably ill-advised.
Puzzle Partner Ltd. · 5 Sep
Loyalty is earned, and certainly not given, and there is a definite difference between loyalty programs and a guest's loyalty to a brand. Hotel loyalty programs might seem ubiquitous today, but nearly 60% of guests still don't belong to one. During the 2019 Skift Tech Forum, industry experts agreed that today's travelers seek more than just opportunities to earn points - they want experiences. Mind you, that doesn't mean it's beyond reach. Hoteliers must work a little harder to understand precisely what factors drive guest loyalty in the modern age. Which brings us to the ultimate question — what makes guests loyal? Hoteliers, I'll give you a hint. It's probably not your loyalty program. In such a competitive market, you need your guests to feel like they're part of something more personal and provide them with the opportunity to really interact with the brand.
Puzzle Partner Ltd. · 20 Jun
HospitalityNet has long established its reputation as the hotel industry's leading news portal for hospitality professionals and leaders. However, where did it all begin? Who was the pioneering mind behind this dominant showcase of hospitality leadership? Perhaps more importantly, where is it headed? What does the future of hospitality publishing hold? Recently, I had the opportunity to sit down with Henri Roelings, the Founder & CEO of HospitalityNet.
Puzzle Partner Ltd. · 28 Mar
The last few years have been a whirlwind of innovation for hospitality technology. Despite its longstanding reputation for being resistant to change and slow to adopt technological evolution, the industry has made impressive strides toward reinventing its future. And yet, the gradual implementation of the latest advancements is only half the battle.
Puzzle Partner Ltd. · 13 Mar
Regardless of the industry, content marketing has long since been touted as one of the key differentiators to a company's long-term success. After all, it's one thing to have a great product or offering, but it's another to have a great product or offering that is effectively packaged to the masses from a trusted company that seems to have everyone's attention. But when it comes to establishing credibility, generating positive hype and growing your brand and business, what is the name of the game? We place so much emphasis on content marketing — and rightfully so — but what style of content and what method of delivery will play the most integral role in getting a company from point A to point B? What will move the needle the most, and most effectively translate the value proposition of a company (and those who run it) to current and prospective customers? We also must consider the current economic climate, where consumer trust is notoriously hard to earn — and far too easy to lose. Media has become the least-trusted institution. But if content represents the conduit to which brands can connect with their audience, how can companies shift past media distrust to establish their brand or offering as a trusted source? It's within this discussion that we realize the importance of thought leadership. What exactly is a thought leader?
Puzzle Partner Ltd. · 6 Feb
It's 2019, and I would argue that there have never been more marketing-related "buzzwords" battling it out for conversational real-estate across thought leadership articles, webinars, white papers and more. Whether it's agile marketing, catering to the 'age of the consumer,' hyper-personalization, or the mobile age — there are plenty of commerce-related silos to get lost in as industry leaders seek out the trends and methods which can best benefit their respective brand and industry. This brings us to one of the latest terms, which was coined by Uber's Chris Messina in 2015 — conversational commerce. In layman's terms, conversational commerce is represented by consumers interacting with businesses through popular messaging and chat apps, such as Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, WeChat, or even through voice-activated assistants such as Alexa or Google Echo. As we've watched the rapid growth of the mobile journey over the last few years, this market shift comes as no surprise. Modern consumers, while still expecting access to high-touch service models, have an evident penchant for digital communications and self-service. Simply put, mobile devices have become the predominant device of choice across generations, and represent an opportunity for instant, convenience-driven interactions with brands. The gradual evolution to text-based commerce seems like a natural step for hotels and travel brands, with modern consumers effectively leading the charge. If you're already feeling apprehensive of this digital-centric approach to modern commerce — consider the following:
Puzzle Partner Ltd. · 21 Jan
TripAdvisor, the world's largest travel site, has long since become a trusted online hub for online feedback around the globe. In fact, amidst the rising popularity of social networks and, by virtue, the influx of social feedback from consumers, TripAdvisor has accrued over 702 million reviews delving into the service/experiences offered at the world's leading hotels and travel listings. That's right… 702 million. This includes 136,000 destinations, 1.2 million hotels, and 975 attractions. Talk about a comprehensive glance at the travel and hospitality realm, with valuable guest-centric insights conveniently showcased while prospective travelers begin their trip planning process.
Puzzle Partner Ltd. · 8 Jan
In a marketing landscape where content is king, you might think it's just a matter of creating and distributing great content. After all, if great content is what every consumer craves from the brands they favor, delivering it should be the easy part — right? But in fact, that's not the case at all. While content is undeniably an integral piece of any modern marketing strategy, business leaders are quick to realize that the curation of valuable and timely content is only half the battle. Back in the day, big brands had to buy an ad or film a TV commercial to get their product in front of their target market. In today's market, advertising has evolved beyond print ads and commercials to include social media, influencer marketing, articles and thought leadership, integrated marketing activations and so much more. Although this means that brands don't necessarily have to pay for ad space or TV commercial spots as they did in the past, much of the other media formats are still, in fact, paid. Existing within what we call a "pay to play" marketing landscape, brands today are primarily working with social media platforms that have set algorithms for content prioritization, and large media brands and publications that have a robust readership. In other words, free exposure is hard to come by, especially when working within platforms or publications that can leverage the value associated with their (substantial) exposure. This is where paid, earned and owned media comes into play. Let's break it down:
Puzzle Partner Ltd. · 5 Nov
Industries across the globe are witnessing the consumer transition into what we like to call the experience economy. Perhaps influenced by the impressive buying power and sheer numbers of the millennial generation, modern consumers are showing a definitive preference for experiential purchasing over material goods. As the Harvard Business Review describes it "within an experience economy, a company intentionally uses services as the stage, and goods as props, to engage individual customers in a way that creates a memorable event." This puts the travel and hospitality industry, specifically, in an exciting position to maximize influence and guest connections. It's not necessarily about B2B or B2C anymore, or even the best 'deal' on paper — it's about the creation of value, and a company's ability to demonstrate that they share values and beliefs with their target consumer. This becomes especially evident as we embrace the consumer-generated push for sustainable commerce and, even more-so, sustainable travel and eco-friendly hospitality. This past year, it found that 84% of Canadian travelers have a desire to go green on future vacations and then two-thirds (64%) said they intend to stay in an eco-accommodation in 2018, which is an increase from both 2017 and 2016. Even further, 58% of Canadians said they would pay at least five per cent more on their travel to ensure it had a lighter environmental footprint. This allows them to feel good about the accommodation they've selected, while also engaging in locally relevant experiences. Millennials are also noted as being twice as likely to support brands with strong management of environmental and social issues and expect brands to not only manage their impact but communicate it. Still not convinced? Studies show that 43 million U.S. travelers are "ecologically concerned" and 70% of travelers prefer hotels with sustainability credentials With this in mind, popular destinations around the globe are looking for ways to limit the environmental footprint/impact that tourists may have on the surrounding environment, heritage sites and local populations. Further, hotel properties within those destinations are striving to reach a new standard of sustainability across each touchpoint of the guest experience. We've rounded up some of our favorites: 1. QO Amsterdam
Puzzle Partner Ltd. · 18 Oct
Witnessing the gradual advancement and disruption of technology and services is an exciting, and sometimes industry-altering concept, as our world continues to evolve at a seemingly rapid pace to meet modern demands. Generations today know (and love) the likes of Netflix and Crave TV, for example, but many of us also remember the popularity of Blockbuster video — a formerly successful business model which now, doesn't even exist. And those of us who used to cling enthusiastically to our flip phones whilst playing 'Brick Breaker', likely upgraded to iPhones with their robust connectivity capabilities and exciting, modern updates. What about MSN or AOL messenger? Kodak photography? Dial-up internet, and wall-mounted landline phones? Our world is ever-changing, and while the needs of consumers are, ultimately, the drivers of that change — sometimes it feels like we are wide-eyed spectators along for the ride. The hospitality industry is no exception, as we look back to a (relatively recent) time when the concept of entering a hotel room without a key card seemed entirely futuristic and out of reach. The hospitality experience was largely impersonal and, more often than not, in need of a drastic update. But as of 2018, things are different. Hoteliers have their ears to the ground as they work to understand and anticipate modern guest expectations, continuously offering more creative and personalized travel experiences. Amenities are robust, hyper-personalization is the norm, upgrades boast a discernible wow-factor, the mobile experience is prioritized and, for perhaps the first time ever, hotels are actively getting ahead of technological trends. With this in mind, we've taken a look at those hotels which are positioned to offer the most innovative and ambitious experiences to their guests in 2019 (and beyond). Embracing the Lobby Evolution with Vibrant Design: The Hotel Silken Puerta Am érica Modern travels have demonstrated an obvious penchant for unique, Instagram-worthy aesthetics within the hotels they frequent. In the case of Hotel Silken, nineteen of the world's best architects came together to create unique rooms on every floor. Think white caves, sharp lines, red lacquered walls and a focus on business and b-leisure travel with 1000-person capacity meeting and event rooms. For the Tech-Savvy Traveler: Yotel Yotel prides itself on offering everything the modern guest needs, and nothing they don't. Each room is a small, but perfectly-formed cabin to ensure guests can enjoy their stay without exhausting their budget for leisure while visiting major, tourist cities. Yotel appeals specifically to the tech-savvy traveler craving efficiency, with electronic check-in terminals, a robot named Yobot to take care of your luggage, space-saving motorized beds, motion-activated air conditioning, super-fast Wi-Fi and innovative design. The Budget Traveler's Shangria-La: Citizen M Citizen M has created a reputation for itself as a leader in the modern hospitality space by adopting to a low-cost, high-end design property model. Rather than investing in reception, concierge or room service, Citizen M offers a self-service model with self-check in and living room-inspired lobbies. Check-in and check-out take one minute, with your invoice automatically mailed to you. Each room is notoriously stylish and decked out with high-tech upgrades, king size beds, free on-demand movies, unlimited Wi-Fi and more. The hotel also employs ambassadors rather than front desk staff, which are there to help you find whatever you need (but otherwise, they leave you alone). Embracing the Mobile Revolution: Hilton Hotels The mobile experience is one which simply can't be ignored within the hospitality realm — a movement which becomes ever-apparent when looking at Hilton's efforts to ramp up their mobile guest journey. With technological innovation in mind, Hilton guests can now unlock their rooms using their smartphone, whilst Honors members can also select exact rooms they want, order room service, chat with hotel representatives and more through their phone. Marrying the Past with the Future: Effleston Square Pimlico Effleston Square Pimlico appeals to our desire for cutting-edge technology, while staying true to historical, British flair. The exterior of the property mimics that of a striking 19th Century Grade II listed historical facade, while the interior offers keypads to control music and lighting, user-controlled frosted shower walls and flat-screen TVs embedded in bathroom mirrors. Even better, each guest is provided with an iPad that connects them with a concierge service, all from the comfort of their room.
Puzzle Partner Ltd. · 2 Oct
In the past, the travel and hospitality industry has been notorious for its resistance to incorporating new and innovative technology into the mix. There have been some early adopters but where other industries were quick to embrace technological change and practices, we were seemingly always one (or more) steps behind. And yet, this year our industry has — perhaps more than any year previous — welcomed disruption from technology solutions and movements positioned to transform every phase of the guest experience. This marks an exciting era for hospitality and becomes even more apparent as we look to the frenetic landscape of travel technology acquisitions and investments. In 2017 alone, over 65 acquisition deals worth 17 billion USD were made in travel technology. This number has increased drastically from 18 deals in 2013, as emerging tech solutions continuously attract new investments and acquisitions. Deloitte has even stated that technology acquisition is now the number one driver for M&A activity in its M&A Trends Report for the year. Why now? As the travel and hospitality sector shifts towards decentralization and becomes more competitive, companies are eager to stay ahead of the curve with the help of strategic acquisitions and the delivery of innovative solutions. After all, once a company has matured, the best way for them to continue on a path to substantial growth is to increase market share from a competitor through the acquisition process. To call attention to this industry-wide momentum, we've rounded up some of the most exciting travel and hospitality mergers and acquisitions that have recently made headlines. StayNTouch purchased by Shiji