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This Hotel News Now roundup focuses on forward-looking content on topics such as sales and marketing, technology, design and more.

Primary Category: Operations

Secondary Categories: Design, News, Sales and Marketing, Social Media

GLOBAL REPORT—The year has just started, but hoteliers and other experts in the industry have been giving their 2019 predictions on various topics for months now.

This Hotel News Now roundup looks at experts’ outlooks on topics such as sales and marketing, technology, financing and more in 2019.

In mid-December, experts starting making predictions on sales and marketing trends expected in 2019 at a HSMAI sales-and-marketing roundtable.

Jen Yakimicki Guimond, VP of revenue for North Central Management, said sales and marketing professionals need to find new ways to measure and judge success to drive success.

“How do we break the habit of doing business this way because we’ve always done it this way … let’s erase what we knew and say what we are actually trying to get,” she said. “And let’s dive into those things a little further, and let’s take another look at what our (key performance indicators) are to make sure we’re spending time in the places that matter most.”

Pantone, Sherwin Williams and PPG announced their colors of the year, “Living Coral,” “Cavern Clay” and “Night Watch,” respectively, and Hotel News Now spoke with designers to get their take on how those colors will be used in hotels this year.

Meg Prendergast, principal at The Gettys Group, said designers can take it or leave it in terms of color trends, as with any trends, but that “Living Coral” and “Cavern Clay” are more likely to be used because they “play well with others, without being overwhelming.”

Lela Richardson, senior project designer at Wilson Associates, told HNN in June that the use of deep, dramatic colors like “Night Watch” has already been seen in the industry and will continue in 2019.

Colors aren’t the only design element designers are focused on in 2019—another aspect is what goes in the physical hotel space and how areas are designed. One main focus this year is the continuation of creating lobby areas that are multifunctional and feel like neighborhood living rooms.

“We see (the) lobby to become more multifunctional, and as a co-living space neighborhood,” Olga and Irina Sundukovy, founders of design and architecture studio Sundukovy Sisters, told HNN via email. “Thus, the layout should be more flexible, fluid (and a place) where guests decide what they want to do in the area. The design of public areas should be intuitive, but should not limit an area to one certain function. For instance, in our concept for rebranding of a hotel chain, we suggested that functions of public areas change during daytime. Thus, guests can have a breakfast in a lecture hall sitting on comfortable stairs in the mornings, and in the afternoons the area works as a lounge or lecture hall.”

Hotel industry analysts said poor stock performance in 2018 could be an opportunity for long-term investors this year.

“It sets up stocks pretty good because they’ve fallen so far,” said Mike Bellisario, VP and senior research analyst for Baird, said. “They’re due for a bounce because they’re just too cheap.”

Bellisario’s outlook for ’19 is fairly positive, but there is still some uncertainty. He said the first quarter should be telling.

“We’re in a waiting phase now,” he said. “There was a big downdraft in November and December, so you ask, ‘Does that lead to softening 90 to 120 days from now?’”

2018 was a record year for hotel stock buybacks, which was somewhat a result of the corporate tax reform and the fast pace of returning capital to shareholders is expected to continue this year. Analysts aren’t sure how that will work out for publicly traded hotel companies yet.

The conditions for hotel stock buybacks seem good, according to David Loeb, a former analyst and founder of Dirigo Consulting.

“Stocks are cheap, and when they’re cheap you expect companies to respond to that,” he said.

At the beginning of January, HNN reached out to tech experts to find out what types of new technologies are worth investing in this year and which ones hoteliers should wait to invest on for a while.

Chris Bebo, corporate director of operations at Provenance Hotels, said his company is investing in optimizing existing technologies in 2019.

“For example, data and payment security,” he said. “Exciting new technologies may attract some guests, but nothing will drive them away faster than a data or payment security breach. Bandwidth, too, continues to be an issue as the industry struggles to stay ahead of guests’ data use needs. Yes, we are open to new ideas, but we remain committed to investing in the behind-the-scenes infrastructure necessary to power our guests’ devices while at the same time keeping their data and credit information safe.”

Social media platforms are always evolving. HNN recently reached out to social media experts through email interviews to find out what platforms hoteliers should be focusing on in 2019, which ones they should stop using and how they can do a better job of optimizing engagement on social media.  

Anna Mellström, social media manager for Scandic Hotels Group, said hoteliers should be where the customers are.

“Many of our guests and potential guests use the most common social media platforms, and we aim to be present and responsive in forums where they are,” she said. “Each platform provides different possibilities to communicate and for Scandic Hotels, a mix of different platforms is the best way reach our wide audience and their interests.”

Michael Tchong, found and trend forecaster at Ubercool Innovation, said he suggests “staying away from Twitter.”

“Since this platform increasingly identifies with vitriol, which its CEO appears only to encourage, hoteliers should avoid having their brand identified with a negative force. Invest in improving your site’s customer experience instead, which, based on my research, is an area in dire need of practical innovation.”

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Headline: From sales to tech: Predictions for 2019

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