Hoteliers from around the globe met earlier this week in Los Angeles for the first big event of the year – the Americas Lodging Investment Summit (ALIS) – and if the attendance and energy levels were any indication, folks are cautiously optimistic that 2012 will be a good and perhaps a great year for the hotel industry.
According to an article by online news resource Hotel News Now, top industry executives said the momentum felt in the hotel industry during 2011 should carry forward into 2012, with falling unemployment, a pickup in hotel deals, and increased travel spend signs that bode well for the immediate future of the sector. Adding to this sentiment was a report released on Monday by PwC that noted hotels in the US ended 2011 on a strong note, as well as one released on Tuesday by Ernst & Young indicating hospitality market fundamentals appear set to continue the recovery started in 2011.
But while a new year means a new beginning, it also brings new challenges to overcome and new opportunities to leverage. Savvy hoteliers will build on momentum achieved in 2011 by reinvigorating their properties and making enhancements to take advantage of key consumer trends in the marketplace. One prime example is meeting the needs of the always-connected, technologically sophisticated traveler.
Fast Internet trumps brand loyalty any day, and a guest who experiences spotty or unreliable Wi-Fi coverage will take his/her business elsewhere the next time around. Additionally, as more guests bring their entertainment with them (such as Netflix, Hulu and other sites that offer streaming video), smart properties will shift investments from supplying content to supplying the high-speed Internet access needed for guests to access their own content faster and more efficiently. In 2009, the Sheraton Denver Downtown Hotel installed Link@Sheraton in the lobby, a cyber café-style lounge and communications hub where guests can use hotel-supplied computer workstations to send email and access free, wireless high-speed Internet (which is free throughout the entire lobby). Wi-Fi is also available in all Sheraton guest rooms.
Technology is one area where hotels will focus their efforts in 2012, making customers feel good about where they’re staying and the lodging industry in general. Next week we’ll take a look at key trends shaping the business travel and corporate meetings sectors for 2012 and how the Sheraton Denver Downtown Hotel is poised to capitalize on these trends.