Emails are still numero uno

Despite whisperings of its decline in recent years, email remains a growing, go-to channel for marketers. A June 2016 survey of US marketers conducted by the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) and Demand Metric found that email had a median ROI of 122%—more than four times higher than other marketing formats examined, including social media, direct mail and paid search.
Agency professionals and in-house marketers worldwide are in agreement about email’s effectiveness, according to March 2016 polling from Econsultancy. Both groups named email marketing most frequently as a tactic able to provide a strong ROI, at 80% and 73%, respectively. The study also found that while respondents allocated an average of 16% of their overall marketing budget to email for 2016, the program contributed to 23% of total sales, a ratio that indicates email’s positive ROI.

2015 Business Travel Forecast

American Express Global Business Travel has released its annual Business Travel Forecast revealing air, hotel and ground transportation prices are expected to be neutral to slightly higher across all regions in 2015. With new hotel supply limited in many major markets, the slight increases in business travel demand expected should put more pricing power in the hands of hoteliers next year, according to American Express.

Additional global hotel pricing predictions include:

  • In North America, hotel rates are expected to trend upwards, buoyed by favorable economic growth, increasing demand and a lack of new inventory. Additionally, moderate and upscale hotels continue to explore ways to further differentiate themselves from the competition. Amex is forecasting rate growth for mid-range hotels of 3% to 6% and upper-range hotels 3.5% to 7%.
  • Across Europe, the Middle East and Africa, hotel rates are predicted to rise slightly in nearly all countries and categories, as demand steadies. American Express forecasts rate growth for hotels in EMEA at 1% to 6% for mid-range hotels and 0% to 5% for upper-range properties.
  • In Asia Pacific, hotel rates across the region are expected to rise minimally across most categories in the coming year. The forecast for rate growth ranges from 0.8% to 3.5% for mid-range hotels and 0.7% to 3.5% for upper-range hotels.

Hotel Revenue Acquisition Costs

Based on a recent study over 3 years, released by The Hospitality Asset Managers Association (HAMA) it was found that Hotel revenue acquisition costs have far outpaced revenue growth. It specifically looks at both the external costs of brand allocations (for marketing, advertising, major promotions, loyalty programs, national and global sales offices) and third party commissions (for group & transient bookings) as well as the internal costs of marketing and sales programs, including local marketing, sales staffing and other expenses, including reservations staff.

Total customer acquisition costs rose by 23% while brand allocations grew by 37%, and third party commissions by 34%. As a result, properties now control less of their marketing fund (44% vs. 49% in 2009). It is thus critical to understand and then control external costs, including the costs of customer acquisition.

Election Tourism

As election season peaks, tourists are in for a unique experience — be part of a political rally, meet a leader, take part in a heated political discussion in a village chaupal.
It’s the season for “election tourism” as the political climate in a state with the highest number of seats and the most number of PM aspirants heats up. A tour operators’ guild in Gujarat is hard-selling politically-hot places like Varanasi — from where the state’s CM is trying to realize his prime-ministerial dreams — to both foreign and domestic tourists. They have planned circuits with politics thrown in. The Delhi-Lucknow-Varanasi-Delhi circuit has been marked as “Banaras: The heart of elections” and the Lucknow-Ayodhya-Lucknow circuit is named “UP Central.” Varanasi followed by Ayodhya and Lucknow are the hot destinations.
Tourism organizers are booking trips for people, many of them NRIs from the UK to Middle East.
The mystique of India has been peppered with political excitement. And the colour of Indian elections is sure to add to the glamour. Since tourism is all about innovation, this is working and Tour operators have been attracting foreign tourists by projecting the elections in the world’s largest democracy. Their brochures say: “Mere scale of Indian elections is a factor — 814.5 million voters to choose their representatives in 543 constituencies. The colours of Indian elections such as huge public gatherings, diverse ways of electioneering which includes human mascots, singing and dancing groups besides passive means like posters and banners…”
Tourists will be able to be a part of political rallies, interact with leaders in party offices to discuss on party strategy, ideology and mission and also spend nights in villages where political discussions are at a crescendo.
“Indian elections have always fascinated researchers and policy makers from across the world. No wonder it will attract the common man too. Tourism around elections certainly sounds interesting,” said a retired EC official.

2014 wellness trends

Spafinder Wellness 365 has released its annual report of the top 10 spa and wellness trends worldwide. The report is based on ongoing surveys of the 20,000-plus spa, wellness and beauty providers. My personal pick of their top five global spa and wellness trends for 2014 include:

Healthy hotels: In 2014 “healthy hotels” will become a megatrend fulfilling the demand for restorative travel and helping people stay well on the road. Look for hotels to move from healthy as a marketing differentiator to deeper, more multi-faceted and comprehensive programming.

Suspending gravity: There are more weightless stress and mind-melting flotation tanks, chambers and pools at spas. On the fitness front, there is a global craze for aerial and anti-gravity classes and yoga along with new equipment like anti-gravity treadmills.

Natural beauty meets social media: With the growing popularity of social media and “selfies,” people are expected to look their best 24/7 — without the benefit of makeup and blowouts. In 2014, a new clean-beauty era takes shape focusing on the natural and introducing a high-tech, low-risk beauty. Spas will promote this via organic products, science and technology intersecting to deliver results with minimal downtime that are seemingly produced by nature.

Scent with intent: As aromatherapy plays a greater role in the treatment of physical and mental issues, spas have been motivated to re-imagine their approach to craft aromatherapies with intended effects. Spas are now moving away from the generically pleasant treatments and working in tandem with botanists and digital technology to improve effectiveness.

Urban wellness retreats: Look for exciting movement on the destination spa front. A distinct sub-trend is the emerging urban wellness retreat. More destination spas will be reachable by car and train.

What does the Luxury Traveler want?

A survey of more than 1,600 global, discerning travelers conducted by luxury travel website Luxury Link reveals that by no means do the rich want to pay for Wi-Fi. “Must-have” hotel amenities for 2014 include free Wi-Fi (75.7% of respondents), early check-in/late check-out (53.6%) and free daily breakfasts (47.1%).

Croatia and Portugal were tabbed as up-and-coming destinations for 2014, while adventurous and foodie-focused vacations are trending higher, as well. These high-end travelers will not be sitting idle during their 2014 vacations as 46.3% plan to incorporate adventures such as hiking, sailing or scuba-diving into their trips, while 40.7% are foodie-focused, centering travel around fine dining / cooking classes.

It is about time that Indian Hotels stop charging for Wi-Fi and look at how they can offer the luxury traveler safe adventure options in and around Indian resort destinations. With the tremendous cuisine India has to offer, the possibilities are endless.

Travel Trends 2014

Luxury travel agent network Virtuoso has released its annual trend report suggesting that while multigenerational family travel remains the top trend, active and adventure travel is the dominant trend predicted for all travelers in 2014, especially in more exotic destinations.

The 2014 Luxe Report also found that the rise in longer trips (eight days and longer) to international destinations held steady from 2013, and suggests that when necessary, travelers are willing to book lower room categories to stay in nicer hotels. Italy continues its reign as the top destination for international travel in 2014, followed by South Africa, France and Australia. This year, New Zealand makes an appearance on the list as well. Italy remained the chart-topper for families traveling in 2014, with England, Hawaii, Costa Rica and Mexico rounding out the list.

As in past reports, the motivation behind high-end travel continues to be seeking authentic experiences, rest and relaxation and spending time or reconnecting with loved ones. Re-discovering previously visited destinations and exploring new destinations were new additions to the list this year. Not surprisingly, the list mirrored the most popular destinations for romantic travel, which continue to be Italy, French Polynesia, Bali and France. This year the Maldives joined the list of exotic locations.

Celebrate your Successes

A unique way to celebrate and motivate your sales team… here’s an example of the sales team at the Hotel del Coronado outside San Diego which took the art of team bonding to a whole new level when the group jumped out of an airplane to celebrate its June bookings success.

The team exceeded its monthly booking goal by 200% that month, a production level that had not been accomplished since 2005. To celebrate, they all went skydiving.

Vice President, General Manager Andre Zotoff jumps for the sales team.

“I set the goal so high that I never thought that I would actually have to jump out of a perfectly good airplane,” said Cheryl Ferguson, director of sales, who is afraid of heights. “But they are an amazing team and knocked their goals out of the park … so I had to live up to my end of the deal.”

The entire sales team, along with the new Vice President, General Manager Andre Zotoff, and the director of conference services jumped from 13,000 ft (3,962 m) to celebrate the triumph.

India at 10 in business travel

India is quickly becoming a major global business travel market.  In 2012, India surpassed Canada to become the 10th largest business travel market in the world, spending a total of US$22.1 billion on business travel. Over the next five years, GBTA [Global Business Travel Association] expects India’s business travel spend will grow at a compound rate of 13.5%, making it one of the fastest growing markets in the world.

Business travel spending in the Asia Pacific region has grown 8% annually since 2000, more than doubling in size and totaling US$393 billion in 2012. China is fast moving towards global dominance of the business travel market, and GBTA now expects that it will surpass the U.S. as the largest business travel market in the world by 2016. Spending in China has grown from US$32 billion at the start of the millennium to US$196 billion in 2012, and China’s meteoric growth is expected to continue, doubling to US$375 billion by 2017.

More challenges ahead – MICE

The conference and meeting market remains unsettled, according to PwC. It is an important driver of demand and food and beverage spend for hotels, but the outlook is far from fully recovered. Demand remains polarized and price-aware, with residential meetings under buyer scrutiny. The meetings and conference market faces another challenging year, and is often the last demand segment to recover. More supply and changes to corporate procurement policies and sustainability issues around travel and communications technology are still leaving their mark. Shorter lead times, shorter meetings and clients wanting more for less and in less time are also trends.

Vertical Farming

In a bid to reduce its dependence on imports, Singapore recently opened the first commercial-scale vertical farm. Its 120 aluminum towers, each 30 feet tall, produce more than 1,000 pounds of vegetables a day. Vertical farming is reputed to be more environmentally sound than traditional farming and also enables year-round agricultural production.

The idea behind vertical farming  is simple: Think of skyscrapers with vegetables climbing along the windows. Or a library-sized greenhouse with racks of cascading
vegetables instead of books. This innovative vertical farm could help change the way the world eats, giving dense cities an opportunity to grow food in their own back yard.

Troughs of bok choy stack up vertically at the 30-feet urban farm in Singapore. The veggies rotate along the A-frame to ensure they receive even light.

Hospitality Paradigm meets Karnataka Governor

With His Excellency H.R.Bhardwaj, The Governor of Karnataka

The founders of Hospitality Paradigm, Ramiah Daniels & Rajan Parulekar recently met with The Governor of Karnataka at the Rajbhavan, Bangalore to seek his good wishes. H.E. Shri Hans Raj Bhardwaj expressed his interest in Hospitality Paradigm’s vision and asserted that such ventures are the dire need of the burgeoning Hotel Industry.

Tourism blame game

Ok, so the government is realising what it should have realised years ago… what a laugh!

Observing that lack of cleanliness could be a reason for low tourist traffic, a Parliamentary panel yesterday pulled up the Ministry of Tourism, saying the country’s global tourism share of 0.6 per cent is ‘unacceptable’ as it has a wide variety of tourist attractions.
In its report tabled in Parliament, the Standing Committee on Tourism and Culture reprimanded the Ministry for spending Rs 194 crore on overseas promotion saying the expenditure was not commensurate with foreign tourist arrivals. The Sitaram Yechury-led Committee also pointed out that the tourism potential of Indian islands was more than that of popular destinations such as Thailand and Singapore, but insufficient facilities have marred the tourism scope of these places, according to a report by PTI.
“Even though India has a vast variety of tourist attractions, the global tourism share is less than 0.6 per cent annually in terms of world arrivals. The Committee feels that this percentage is just unacceptable, and what we are aiming at is to achieve one per cent during the 12th Plan,” it said.
On the overseas tourism promotions, the Committee said Rs 194 crore was spent on this activity up to February 2012, which was not commensurate with the return in the form of number of foreign tourist arrivals. “The Committee is surprised that with so many attractions – religious, tourist, health, why we have not been able to attract enough tourists to India,” it said.
The Committee said it has ‘doubts’ about the overseas promotion campaigns and asked the Government to have a re-look into the necessity of various tourist promotion offices abroad and the efficacy of various officials under Overseas Promotion and Publicity

Govt. of India – Hospitality Employment Initiative

It seems the Indian Government has woken up to the importance of the hospitality industry and it now aims at creating 77.5 million jobs in the tourism and hospitality sector by 2016 by adopting a ”pro-poor” approach to the development of the sector in the 12th five year Plan. “Initiatives to be taken towards the development of the tourism and hospitality sector in the 12th Plan will aim at increasing net benefits to the poor from tourism and ensure that tourism growth contributes to poverty,” said a Ministry of Tourism official.
The total employment in hospitality sector is estimated to be at 47.26 lakh in the year 2012-13 and 63.79 lakh in the year 2016-17. “To meet this requirement, there are plans to initiate a number of skill development programmes,” the official added. The Ministry also plans to enhance the institutional infrastructure of hospitality education by opening new Institutes of Hotel Management (IHM) and Food Crafts Institutes (FCI). The capacity of the existing hotel management and food crafts institutes will be augmented. Private sector investments will be encouraged, strengthening the institutional infrastructure of hospitality education.
This is the need of the hour and we wish them the very best in this endeavour!

Hospitality Paradigm launched!

Finally! After loads of conceptualizing, gleaning market intelligence and feedback on our planned enterprise, we are now onboard having launched Hospitality Paradigm. We spent considerable thought in the creation of our new new logo and branding which we collaboratively developed with a branding agency. Our new website will continue to evolve as our business grows – we believe it very clearly communicates our brand values and positioning as a strategically minded training consultancy that specialises in enabling our valued clients to increase their business by maximising the potential of their employees. We look forward to sharing ideas here and value your feedback.