Travel is broken. So says travel expert and Huffington Post blogger, Doug Lanksy, who took to the stage at TedX Stockholm recently. His question is one that is close to our hearts: how do we fix travel?
First we have to understand why it's broken. It's big business (worth $1.4 trillion, in fact), it's become cheaper and faster but the problem is we're quickly losing a real, organic reason to interact with locals. Citing the number of Pizza Huts and KFCs located in tourist destinations, Doug argues that the modern tourism destination is becoming much the same across the world. We're losing the opportunity to experience something different to what we know at home.
The rise of Airbnb and OneFineStay shows that million dollar businesses are popping up to address that very problem. The desire behind travel to experience something truly local is why more travellers are entering the sharing economy. It's now up to established travel businesses like airlines, hotels and DMOs to deliver an experience that is truly unique.
So as a hotelier, how can you fix travel?
1. Focus on the difference you provide
There will always be a demographic of travellers who want fly and flop holidays. For them, the service you provide will give you a competitive advantage. Whether it's face-to-face or service with a smartphone, you need a compelling reason for the modern traveller to choose you, especially if you own a British hotel.
2. Develop a community
If you can nurture a community that loves your brand you're adopting a more shared economy mentality. This community could come through something complex like the Starwood SPG programme that provides new technology and a reason to return, or it could come through a well managed Facebook page similar to One & Only's that shows off company news and hotel photos that make you want to go back.
3. Focus on supply and demand
What if during the booking process you showed visitors what's going on in the area when they're planning to stay with you? This is just one of Doug's ideas that we really like. Giving more information to guests to help them plan their stay better will always be valued. It could be providing transparent pricing, information about how busy local attractions are, or an idea of how full the hotel will be when they visit. While school holidays can't be helped, there are millions of tidbits of information about what time of the year to visit that can help along the booking process: just how many of them are you giving your guests on your site?