Amid the new year torrent of hotel industry forecasts are a few things we can ignore and a few things that should make us pause and think.
I like to think I studiously ignore all late-December or early-January emails telling me what will be the top 10 hotel trends in Europe (add the category of your choice—names, marketing, design, advertising) for 2017 and the top 10 must-go-to destinations for 2017 (as though we all have time to take a vacation every six weeks).
Never to be out-trumped, The New York Times suggested 52 places travelers should visit this year. Presumably, one selects a few, or even one, of these places, but that is not what the article’s title of “52 Places to Go in 2017” suggests. Apparently, Canada is the must-go-to spot for Times readers this year.
Where people might be heading, certainly, is of interest to hotel company development teams, but my guess is their research departments came up with the same list five or so years ago and already have their groundbreaking teams in place as we speak.
I feel better cherry-picking certain information from all of these lists and ignoring the rest, which to my mind is mostly made up and of no discernable worth. And there is a torrent of such correspondence at the ends and beginnings of our years.
As a way of easing everyone into the new year, here are some hotel- and tourism-related gems from this year’s snowmelt of January speculation, questionnaires of probably few responders and other generally wrong information.
Travelodge’s annual list of left-behinds
From the United Kingdom Travelodge brand, this annual list of things forgotten in hotel rooms often defies belief, sometimes to the point where it is not believable (every year, a prosthetic leg or several of them are overlooked). But, though most examples are so odd, I am left with the idea that it’s all true. Examples this year include a miniature Shetland pony called Pudding, a house made out of bread and a family secret recipe for pasta sauce that has passed down five generations but presumably is secret no more.
The British are morbid, apparently
The Brits feel down in the dumps in winter, when the sun rises at 7:45-ish and disappears again at 3:30, although spare a thought for our friends in the Nordic countries. Anyway, hotel brand Days Inn sent me a list of statistics concerning winter 2017 (almost three months to go), which includes the fact that 63% of people in the U.K. would rather have an extra hour of sunlight a day than engage in social media (this I cannot believe) or watch a TV series’ box set of episodes.
Blanket fog over Christmas and New Year’s only reinforces Days Inn’s finding that 8% of Brits claim the shorter days make them more likely to have arguments with their family. I always tell people that, for the most part, fog in the U.K. is resigned to old American films that need to show viewers the action is being staged in the British Isles.
Deloitte’s 2017 crystal ball
One of the small joys in life is each Monday morning when I receive Deloitte’s weekly email, which recaps and muses on the state of the world, economics, stock movements, trade results and all manner of miscellanea.
A gem from this week’s email came from chief economist Ian Stewart and his team: most Brits believe Father Christmas—our name for Santa Claus*—would be a Brexit remainer, not a leaver, or at least that is what a poll by pollster YouGov concluded.
Stewart added “presumably this is an acknowledgement of the importance of ‘freedom of movement’ in enabling Santa to perform his Yuletide activities.” A second pun (and, Deloitte, more of the same please) was that perhaps Father Christmas would be listening to Mariah Carey’s seasonal hit “All I Want for Christmas is EU.”
More serious stocking stuffing
But proof that such speculation is often untrue (well, I guess, look at every election held in the Western world in the last 24 months) is that following the Brexit vote in the U.K. and the drop in the value of the pound sterling, the knowledgeable analysts all rushed to say that the “correction” in the currency’s value would lead to a marked increase in incoming tourism.
‘Twas not true, apparently, and I think I can safely say that what they meant by that was that tourist numbers would skyrocket.
The British Hospitality Association’s latest figures show that incoming tourist numbers are down, although the dire numbers were offset by business travelers and ex-pats coming “home on the cheap” to see family.
The BHA said for the U.K. there were 450,000 fewer holiday passengers year to date through October 2016 versus the same period in 2015. Yes, inbound travel did increase by 1.7%, but a doomsayer (far from me to be one) might say that all of those business travelers are here to feast over the scraps as the U.K.’s currency plunges deeper into fire-sale territory.
Let’s hope that is false speculation, too.
Happy New Year.
*Before readers write in, I do realize that Father Christmas and Santa Claus have vastly different histories—the former dating to medieval England, the latter to the Victoria era, even though his name is based on that of St. Nicholas, or in Dutch, Sinterklaas.
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