August 14 2017
Posted in: Hospitality Trends

How The Travel Industry Has Changed In The Last 5 Years

Here we recap what’s changed in the travel industry over the last 5 years.

Skift recently turned the big 5 and to mark their fifth birthday they decided to reminisce on how the travel industry has changed since they began. Following their lead we also took a look back at the last 5 years in the hotel industry to see how much has happened in such a short space of time – here are a few that stand out for us… and in no particular order!

Consolidations: 5 years ago we were living in a pre-online travel consolidation phase. Expedia, Travelocity, and Orbitz were separate companies and kayak was but a twinkle in Priceline’s eyes. In recent years there has been a wave of consolidation in the online travel world that’s led to two key players in the U.S. (Priceline Group and Expedia) and one in China (Ctrip).

And it wasn’t just the OTAs that were at the consolidation game; there were also some unprecedented large-scale mergers and acquisitions of hotel operator companies. As Skift put it, if it wasn’t Expedia buying up nearly every former competitor, Accor was buying up nearly every future competitor and Marriott every adjacent competitor. Between them they own 56 brands and a whopping 9,200 hotels.

AirBnB: This one is probably self-explanatory. Founded in August 2008 and launched earlier the following year, Airbnb allows people to list their rooms or property for short-term rental. Hosts make money by renting out their homes, and Airbnb takes a cut too. Needless to say it has become a global holiday phenomenon, as people can travel to new places and save some money as they stay in ready to go homes at a reasonable price.

However, Airbnb has been and is still sounded by some controversy; many cities and regions have raised concerns regarding the policing of housing standards in custom with local law and regulations, some boroughs do not allow short-term rentals unless the occupier is home and in other areas there are tax issues surrounding holiday rentals. Some cities have experienced shortfall in long-term rental accommodation due to Airbnb and some hoteliers claim it lead to an uneven playing field believing it has quickly become a threat as travellers choose to book with independent hosts rather than with traditional hotels.

With that said, others would debate that Airbnb has only brought a business to the online world that was already in place long before the World Wide Web.

Nevertheless, Airbnb has reshaped vacation rentals and only continues to expand.

Technology: Legacy is out, mobility and self-service and in. With rapid changes and innovation in technology in recent years we have become a little bit of a device dependant society. Armed with our mobile device, everyone and everything is a quick tap away. As a result our expectations of and how we interact with business has changed.

When it comes to the hotel stay, guests are looking for convenience and efficiency but also a personalised tailored experience while not compromising on quality… all at the same time. It’s not too much to ask? Right? In the past few years the long stand established companies of hospitality technology have had to rethink their product offering as newcomers to the market began offering a plethora of more affordable agile mobile products and services that would enable them keep up with the demands of their new digital savvy guests and help them remain competitive.

For hoteliers who might feel overwhelmed, the key is to focus on and invest in hotel technologies that make the travel experience easier and more personal for guests.

New Concepts and Experiential Brands: In the last few years we have also seen the launch of new hotel concepts such as Yotel, Citizen M, Mama Shelter, Zuko etc. These new “hotels” combine style and comfort with affordability and a community atmosphere. Smart design is key with every inch of space used wisely. They offer different accommodation types from modular sleeping area that guests share to rooms and apartments for two to five people with a private bathroom and a kitchen area. They boast great locations, fast free Wi-Fi and every room is the same price.

With new lodging concepts in the market and with the rise in popularity of Airbnb, hotels have had to diversify in order to remain competitive and to ensure that they continue to appeal to the more digital savvy guest and ‘millennial’ traveller. As a result hotels have begun to expand their brand by offering experiential versions of their brand, such as Marriott’s Moxy.

They come at a cheaper price point, and often have a strong focus on lifestyle, locality and insider knowledge, compared to their bigger siblings. Similar to the concept hotels, they too have a communal emphasis; the lobby is the hub of the action boasting plenty of seating, there is usually a full-service bar, barista, kitchen style facilities usually well stocked with drinks, snacks, and full meals that’s accessible 24/7. Communal games as well as other amusing items are in place to make you want to hang out and linger.

So how much has the hotel industry changed in the last 5 years? A lot, we recon! These are the main ones that stood out for us; if we’ve missed something huge or left something out that you think should be included on the list, let us know!