Gen Z has arrived

Move over Millennials… the post millennials are here!

A recent article published by Bloomberg says this is the year that Generation Z becomes the biggest consumer cohort globally, displacing millennials as a top obsession for investors trying to figure out how to cash in on their unique shopping, eating and media habits. While the older lot have entered the workforce recently, the majority are still studying; but boy, do they have the spending power!

Investors have always been interested in young consumers and how their habits might open up new opportunities, but much of the long-held thinking on college kids and tweens—invest in beer stocks or TV networks or junk food—don’t hold up today. Gen Z, roughly between the ages of seven and 22, were born after the internet went mainstream and occupy a world where anything and everything can be delivered to their front door with a swipe of a finger and they grew up on platforms like Facebook and Instagram, where the influencer culture has taken hold.

For investors looking to factor Gen Z into their portfolios, here are some broad trends they may want to consider

1. They Can Be Influenced 

That means influencers—celebrities or everyday people with big social media followings who are paid to promote products—can have an outsized impact with this cohort where nearly six out of 10 self-diagnose spending too much time on their phones. 

2. They Have Different Vices

Younger consumers are wary of nasty hangovers and eager to wake up on the weekends feeling fresh so they can get outdoors and capture selfies. In the US and Canada for example, Marijuana is perceived healthier than alcohol. As more states legalize and stressed out, tired Americans look to cannabis compounds to alleviate insomnia and anxiety, or just unwind after a hard week of work.

3. They Don’t Have to Go to Stores

It’s worth noting that the oldest members of Gen Z are barely out of college by most measures, not exactly peak grocery-buying age. Still, they’ve grown up in a world where digital shopping is ubiquitous. Gen Z could be the first generation to truly embrace online grocery shopping.

4. They Choose Their Brand Loyalties Carefully

The rise of Gen Z could be bad news for traditional clothing retailers. Apparel brands looking to connect with younger shoppers have tried embracing edgier brand ambassadors, a departure from the days when consumer companies went to great pains to avoid politics. That’s because Gen Z actually wants corporations to take a stand on issues, with 40 percent saying they’d pay more for a product if they knew the company was promoting gender equality issues and 42 percent for racial justice initiatives.

5. They Eat (Somewhat) Differently

Gen Z consumers are more likely to skip meat than the older U.S. cohorts, the latest dining disruption with big implications for fast-food restaurants and packaged-food giants. 

As Gen Z eventually enters their prime earning years, some of these trends could start to become more concrete and visible.

Mobile Etiquettes at work

Mobile phones are ubiquitous and research shows that although most users think they have good mobile manners, many people report being irritated or annoyed by the handling of these mobiles. Good mobile phone etiquette is similar to common courtesy. Conversations and text exchanges have a tendency to distract people from what’s happening in front of them. Mobile users should be thoughtful, courteous and respect the people around them. Clearly there’s a lack of understanding of what is and isn’t acceptable in terms of mobile etiquette.

I’ve put together a pop quiz each one of us may want to answer and rate ourselves on our mobile etiquettes at our workplace:

  1. When engaged face-to-face with others, either in a meeting or a conversation, do you avoid giving them your complete and undivided attention by texting or taking calls?
  2. No one wants to be a captive audience to a third-party phone conversation or to sit in silence while their colleague texts with someone. Are you in the habit of leaving your ringtone on and placing your phone in front of you on the table?
  3. When you must use your phone in public, do you take the call where you are instead of respecting your colleague’s personal space and moving to at least three metres between you and others?
  4. Nothing is more irritating than to be cut off while calling someone. It is akin to being snubbed in a conversation. Rather than putting the phone on silent immediately (in case you have not done it earlier) and allowing the phone to continue ringing silently, do you disconnect a caller ringing you when you are busy?
  5. In case you send a standard auto reply message while receiving a call which you do not want to pick up, do you often forget to call back as promised?
  6. While in a meeting, are you in the habit of picking up a call and then informing the caller that you are in a meeting?
  7. Do you answer calls at work on your speaker phone?
  8. Do you keep your phone on vibrator mode during meetings and yet keep the phone on the table, so that the sound is as disturbing as a ring tone?
  9. Do you make calls from the bathroom, ignoring the fact that it is an extreme put-off?
  10. Do you use your phone as a watch? If so, then are you tempted to check your messages whilst checking the time?

A “Yes” answer to any of the above, as you may have guessed, is a no-no!

To how many of the above have you answered “NO” to? The ideal score is 100%… how much have you scored?

Voice Commands – The New Disruptor

Some studies have anticipated that voice will account for 50% of searches in under two years. What seems unquestionable is that users will be searching the net very differently before too long. Using voice commands to search for and book hotels is going to be disruptive in the hotel industry.

We have come to yet another turning point where hotels are forced to “adapt or die” in the fight to defend and boost direct bookings. Voice search poses a new threat for those who are lagging behind, but it also represents an opportunity for the more active businesses that are ready to act fast.

The new priority now involves connecting your direct channel to the end user right from their first point of contact with the Internet, which increasingly means the voice assistants available on phones (like the Google Assistant or Siri) and home devices like Google Home or Amazon’s Alexa. This unstoppable shift in user behaviour is likely to shake up the traditional online distribution model, starting with OTAs who will have to reinvent themselves, and also direct channels that need to find their new place.

Travellers have many more options…

Recent research conducted by Booking.com has revealed that Travellers today have more options than ever when it comes to booking their next getaway. Some of the most talked about and on the rise accommodation types around the world are:

Luxury Tent: Driven by the desire to make camping a more enjoyable experience for everyone, recent years have seen a significant increase in interest for glamorous camping – or glamping – with almost a third of global travellers stating that they prefer unique and quirky accommodations while on holidays, such as luxury tents.

Riad: Stemming from the Arabian term for garden, a riad is a type of traditional Moroccan house or palace built around an interior courtyard. These palatial stays offer beauty in their architectural and floral design.

Holiday Homes: While travelling is often about branching out and seeing new places, some of us still look for the comforts of home. For many travellers a holiday home offers the best of both worlds and the opportunity truly embrace their chosen destination.

Capsule Hotels: From one small stay to another, capsule hotels offer perfectly formed accommodation options for budget-conscious travellers. These extremely small “rooms” are often found in more casual accommodation offerings and are stacked high, side-by-side with steps for access and is also one of the fastest growing categories of accommodation.

Chalet: As picture perfect as a souvenir postcard, a chalet offers an alternative alpine accommodation. The wooden houses with overhanging eaves often form part of skiing resorts. In fact, cabins and chalets are the desired accommodation for almost a sixth of global travellers and are also amongst the fastest rising in relative popularity

Apartments: These self-contained units often provide the perfect balance of escape and home comforts for city living.

Tiny Houses: The tiny house movement sees people embracing a smaller and simpler existence. A property that’s less than 500 feet would technically constitute a tiny house and these small dwellings are popping up for travellers across the globe to provide a peek into the trendy and eco-conscious way of living that’s simple, uncomplicated and cosy.

3 Bad Habits Sabotaging Your Productivity

Peter Drucker was  consulting for a CEO of a major bank in US. For every meeting the CEO used to assign Peter a time slot of 90 minutes. A highly effective person, the CEO was delivering  consistent results for his bank year-on-year. During the one-and-half hour meeting the CEO refrained from taking any telephone calls and asked his secretary to handle the same which enabled him to pay undivided attention to Peter Drucker. When asked for the reason behind his time management strategy, the CEO replied, “Mr. Drucker, nothing significant happens if I do not devote a minimum of 90 minutes for an important task. However beyond 90 minutes, the grasping power of the mind reduces. Only two people are allowed to call me when I am in a meeting; the first is the President of USA and the second is my wife. The former will not call me and the latter dare not call me. I return all my calls once  the meeting is over.”

Discipline is the most important aspect for executives to attain optimum productivity. 

Here are three productivity-killing habits you should avoid:

Impulsive Web Browsing: Since most of us have access to the Internet at work, it’s easy to get side-tracked looking up the answer to a random question that just popped into your head. That’s why Quora user Suresh Rathinam recommends writing down these thoughts or questions on a notepad. This way, you can look up the information you want later, when you’re not trying to get work done.

Suresh, a sales executive was making an important offer for his client. While on google search he gets digressed into social media and loses focus. There are two types of tasks a. What is right for me & b. What is right in-front of me. Quite often the latter takes over the former. Please refer the figure. When you are on facebook, twitter or a joke on Whatsapp (right in front of me) the activity  is going to take away your time in making that important offer or handling an angry customer (right for me). The more there is overlap in these two areas (the common green portion called as focus area) the better it will be for you in working effectively.

Putting off important tasks till later in the day: People often start off their day by completing easy tasks to get themselves rolling and leave their difficult work for later. This is a bad idea and one that frequently leads to the important work not getting done at all. Let us go back to the case of Suresh who has to make a project report which needs a lot of technical understanding and calculations Such a task consumes a lot of intellectual and mental energy. If he does this in the morning when his energy levels are high, he will be able to do justice to his task. However he starts doing the mundane and routine things in the morning (like seeing all the cc/Bcc emails) due to which there is a mismatch between his energy levels and task complexity (refer figure below).

Checking emails throughout the day: Constant Internet access leads people to check email throughout the day. Sadly, each time one does this, you lose several minutes of work time. What’s more, the constant checking of email makes you dumber! Instead, strategy consultant Ron Friedman suggests quitting Outlook, closing email tabs and turning off your phone for 30-minute chunks of ‘deep-dive work’.

In his book, ‘The Four Hour Work Week’, Timothy Ferriss suggests to his readers that he looks at the mail only at 11 AM and then clears them all in a batch. We shall talk a great deal about that in my next update.

Rajan Parulekar – Director, Hospitality Paradigm

The importance of Hotel P.R.

In a market as competitive as the hospitality industry, an effective PR strategy is essential and it must be creative, agile and adaptable. For smaller hotels without the benefit of a corporate engine, PR tactics are vital both in terms of positioning and creating valuable partnerships to help the hotel expand and grow.
PR as an art is about telling a story or creating a memory, and if word of mouth was always a valuable currency, social media platforms have made it more so, with customers sharing and interacting with one another and directly with the hotel as individual brands and hotel groups. The degree to which customers trust influences decisions has never been higher and is clearly rising. So whilst every brand behaviour is on public display, customer interaction and building trust is more important than ever. 
To an extent, a brand’s story is now out of its control – the internet put paid to that – so we must recognize the customer as an author and fabulist exploring the possibilities of what they can give towards your overall PR effort, rather than take away from it and build outwards on that.
Hotels need to utilize as many platforms as possible and engage with as many of our customers as they can on a daily basis, developing conversations and points of view to enable a differentiated position in the market.
Hotels need to continually collaborate on ideas and innovations to keep their stories fresh and different, trying to stay a step ahead so they can be at the top end of any adoptive curve! You may not win the game by deploying PR, but you will definitely lose without it.

Photography, social media and travel

According to a recent survey conducted by Schofields, more than 40 per cent of travellers under 33 prioritise ‘Instagrammability’ when choosing their next holiday spot. Across all markets, the travellers’ growing appetite for experiences that go deeper and farther beyond the established destinations are a unifying theme. The greater the lengths that travellers go to for the creation of these faux-spontaneous images, the more contrived and antithetical it feels to the spirit of travel.

Isn’t travel about staying, exploring and immersing yourself in the moment?

The two concurrent challenges for hotels

The principle challenge faced by the industry is the availability of motivated associates. Hotels cannot deliver excellent hotel stays if they are understaffed or are experiencing disruptive associate turnover. To overcome this, they must start treating employees as critically involved members of communities. They need to be trained and supported as individuals.

The second challenge is how to adopt technology in a thoughtful and practical manner. The past decade has seen an unprecedented acceleration in consumer technology, and this pace is unlikely to slow. To this end, hotel brands must be careful to adopt proven technologies that enhance the stay experience rather than provide a flash in the pan. Technology solutions are expensive when rolled out across hundreds of rooms, so their impact must be measurable, experiential and centred on driving guest preferences.

Mobile is still king

Global mobile commerce was up 40% and in 2019, experts predict that 70% of ecommerce sales will come from mobile transactions.
Search engines already favour mobile-friendly sites in their rankings, and search is a critical channel for the hotel sector. It’s increasingly important for brands to localize their mobile site content for specific regional audiences—from providing contact information of local properties in native languages, to offering payment options that reflect the preferences of regional customers.
Hoteliers must also create engaging, authentic in-language digital experiences that will satisfy the expectations of their guests in mobile-dominated markets.

Hotels to capitalise on Immersive Technology – VR

Opportunities to leverage newer technologies like VR (Virtual Reality) in the hotel industry is the way to go forward. Imagine experiencing glimpses of your holiday experiences or stay at a resort or city hotel from the comfort of a VR room set up in a hotel lobby promoting experiences for different segments, for different hotels in the group and even for the same hotel itself. Locational experiences, adventure sports, relaxational therapies, entertainment and much more can be experienced by potential guests – thus making this a powerful marketing tool using immersive technology.

To understand this better, watch the Cannes 2017 award winning ad-film on how VR Vaccines (Brazil) battled childrens inherent fear of the injection shot.

Vitual Reality for Hotels

Ever-increasing investments in virtual reality technologies have created an opportunity for consumer-focused brands—including hotels—to create distinctive virtual experiences for their guests.

Ecommerce giants like Amazon and Alibaba are already creating immersive VR shopping experiences for their customers, and hotels can (and should!) pay close attention to how consumers respond to the ability to experience brands and their products—and even complete transactions—in virtual environments.

But global brands have an additional challenge: how can they create immersive virtual experiences localized for any global language to serve their international audiences in authentic ways?

The same technologies that allow brands to provide in-language experiences for customers online may soon be capable of translating VR-based experiences, from product voiceovers to text and imagery displayed in virtual worlds. And content translated for central digital channels like websites may someday be easily repurposed for VR environments using the same technology.

Forecasted Hospitality Trends ~ 2019

Travel Market Report has seen a trend toward more all-inclusive properties; Many resorts have ditched resort credit to bring guests a vacation experience that is truly all-inclusive, including deeply discounted experiences like golf, spa treatments, tours and excursions.

Luxury travellers will rely more on travel agents. Just as 2018 was the year of multigenerational travel, 2019 will be about couples and adults. More hotels are catering to adults in kid-free environments, either by opening adults-only properties or adults-only sections within one property.

Guests are looking for “Insta-worthy experiences” and hotels are delivering. In Antigua, for example, properties are “now including extras like Galley Bay, where you can take a hobie out to explore a shipwreck; or Blue Waters, where they offer a free trip out to the reef for snorkeling; or Curtain Bluff, where they include waterskiing and motorized water sports.”

The trend is toward the unique. Travellers want that local culturally immersive experience nowadays. Everyone has ‘been there, done that’ with the major attractions and sightseeing destinations; people want that true ‘what the locals do and go’ experience. Smaller boutique hotels and even bed-and-breakfasts have become more popular for clients who want that small town, local charm and experience.

Hotels are offering “tours that take guests to authentic and not commercial spots, where they can interact with the grower or the local fisherman. Experiences that are off-the-beaten-path, so that discovery becomes the whole point of the excursion.

Meetings too, are looking for the unique and unusual. Groups are stepping out from traditional setups and layouts to introduce new space distributions and designs. For example, instead of having a U shape or a classroom set-up, clients are looking for a mix of furniture to create different spaces within the same room, and also looking to incorporate healthy choices in coffee breaks.

Bleisure & the Sharing Economy

Business travel within Asia is growing at twice the pace of the rest of the world, and looks set to overtake the top-spending Americas within the next 10 years. There is also a growing trend among corporate travellers to include local leisure activities as part of their working trips.

The rise of Bleisure – combining business and leisure activities into one travel experience – is accompanied by a concurrent growth in popularity for sharing services.

While most Corporate Travellers do not have to pay their business travel, they are just as cost conscious as their leisure travel counterparts, and are interested in getting suggestions that help them save money (34%).

The focus on cost has seen the sharing economy, specifically ride-sharing services like Uber and Grab and home-sharing services like Airbnb and Couch Surfing, being a large part of business travel, even more so than for leisure. The reasons for using sharing services are ease and convenience and better quality and service.

The rise of Bleisure means that business travel behaviours are becoming more aligned to leisure travel, including cost consciousness. Sharing economy providers benefit from this trend thanks to the competitive products, flexibility and convenience they are able to offer and deliver.

China – The Emperor of outbound tourism

In only three decades, the Chinese have gone from easily stereotyped, rube, new tourists to conquerors of the industry. After hundreds of millions of visits and billions of dollars showered around the world, Chinese tourists now hail from the middle, rich and the very rich classes. Fewer travel in groups. Some still enrage destinations with their thoughtlessness. Others are welcomed for their enthusiasm and unique points of view. Above all, the Chinese are changing tourism around the world.

The travel numbers are astonishing. For the fourth year in a row, the Chinese are the world’s biggest group of international travellers, taking 142 million international trips in 2017. In the next decade, that number is projected to jump to 390 million, according to the China Outbound Tourism Research Institute.

And Chinese tourists are the biggest international spenders: $258 billion last year. All this has been accomplished at a time when only 7% of Chinese citizens hold passports. On the inbound side of the equation, China is expected to become the No. 1 travel destination sometime in the next five years, knocking out France and solidifying its dominance over tourism.

Chinese tourists can lift economies seemingly overnight. Chinese visitors to Europe improved the Continent’s trade balance by $4 billion.

Wealthy Chinese shoppers among the haute couture shops of Avenue Montaigne in Paris are a common sight. There is so much money involved in Chinese tourism that Anna Wong of the U.S. Federal Reserve recently warned that what looks like tourist spending overseas might actually be money laundering to conceal asset investments from the Chinese government.

It’s hard to wrap one’s arms around this ever-growing Chinese tourism juggernaut, but its emergence is clearly the most important milestone for the industry since globalization kicked off the modern explosion.

Pop-up Hotels

Permanence is passé. As any trend-conscious urbanite will attest, bars, restaurants and stores no longer require longevity in order to achieve success. In many cases, the shorter their shelf-life, the more popular they become.

Pop-up outlets have – with a certain irony – turned into one of the more durable trends of the past few years. Typically they give fledgling brands a showcase, maximise cheap rents and offer customers a sense of having bought into something unique. But can the world of short-lease fashion stores and week-long cocktail bars translate into the hotel sector?

Of course it can. The concept of pop-up hotels has become more prevalent in recent times. This is partly due to clever branding (temporary accommodation, after all, being far from a new phenomenon) and partly due to some highly creative advances on the part of providers. In an era when differentiation has become all-important, there’s value in being able to market an overnight stay that doesn’t fit the usual mould.

Pop-up ‘hotels’ tend to fall into one of a few categories. Many are essentially luxury tents, soft-shell spaces erected for a few days at a time in desirable locations and fitted with as many mod cons as can realistically be managed. The ever-more-popular notion of festival ‘glamping’ also fits here.

Other pop-up accommodations are more functional but no less viable, making use of existing structures that are currently empty. These might be anything from shipping containers to untenanted buildings.

The premise behind the idea is simple. When high-rise residential buildings are completed, it can take them up to two years to secure long-term tenants. WhyHotel, which recently secured almost US$4m in seed funding, makes the most of this period by selling as-yet-unfilled units in these new developments as hotel beds.

“We’re on site for guests 24/7,” explains President and Co-founder Bao Vuong. “We generally start by using around 50% of a building’s units, so early on we have by far the predominant number of people in the building. That percentage gradually falls as the months go by, and by about 20% we pull out.”