In 2022, the disruption for the hospitality industry keeps coming from all angles.
NB: This is an article from OTA Insight
However, the resources to understand where the issues are coming from and how to guide your property through them are not always forthcoming. That’s the conclusion of results from our industry survey of independent hoteliers.
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The results showed the top three challenges faced by commercial teams in 2022 are:
- Complex and chaotic market conditions
- A shortage of trained staff and difficult hiring
- Getting accurate analysis rapidly, even when working across different systems and tools.
What’s more, these issues compound into each other. Small teams must wade through more data than they can handle, and run analysis at a more frequent cadence. This then piles pressure onto those commercial teams, making it even harder to retain staff and build coherent pricing and promotion strategies.
Achieving escape velocity from this predicament is therefore going to be critical. But, it will require an innovative mindset to beat the conditions, and get ahead of the curve. Commercial teams need accessible information and a focused suite of tools to transform that data in an increasingly automated way, into actionable strategy.
A complex market in flux
Topping the list of challenges in our 2022 Independent Hotelier Survey is the impact of COVID-19 and how it continues to shape the travel market. Changing conditions, largely as a result of COVID-19, were listed as a challenge by 68.4% of respondents, making it by far and away the biggest issue for non-chain hotels in 2022.
The depth and size of this challenge arises from the potential swings in the market, whose effects have an extremely long tail. For example, although China’s lockdown policy is increasingly an outlier, the sudden and complete lockdowns in several major cities have created massive knock-ons, not only for properties in those cities, but outbound markets too. Shanghai has a population size bigger than many countries, to give context to the issue.
Similarly, international sanctions implemented following the outbreak of war in Ukraine have resulted in the sudden loss of a major source market, while the closing of European airspace to Russian planes has led to large changes in global flight patterns. Beyond those direct geopolitical situations, there are the longer-term effects to consumer behaviour from recent upheaval to consider, including the economic fallout.
Consumers are increasingly making reservations in shorter booking windows, displaying unusual stay patterns and looking for more flexible policies. This creates headaches for revenue managers, who must oversee a greater variety of rates.
For those building a comprehensive commercial strategy, trying together the econometrics of cause and effect is the icing on the cake. Spiraling inflation, cost of living squeezes, rising inflation rates and trade conflicts are all likely to filter through to consumer sentiment and spending power this year. Understanding this requires real-time, forward looking indicators and strong analytical capability.
Commercial teams must be able to keep up
In this context, agility of analysis and decision making is vital, as demand forecasts must be re-run frequently and approaches tailored to market conditions. However, running the numbers and reconfiguring approaches in these conditions is extremely challenging – another one of the three key challenges highlighted in our survey.
A little over a third of respondents said that they lacked adequate time (34.6%), just under a quarter are finding that creating pricing strategies is consistently challenging (23.4%), while 19% told us that increasingly complex business processes were hobbling their capabilities.