Ever hear of words like showrooming and premiumization? These retail trends can have an impact on the hotel industry, too.
I have a friend who is editor of a trade magazine for the retail industry, and every time she tells me about a trend in her industry, I say something like, “that same thing is happening in hotels!” Everything from personalization to mobile-readiness to the never-ending focus on millennials and Gen Z.
Why should hoteliers care about retail trends? At the end of the day, it’s all about shopping, isn’t it? Consumers may be shopping one day for a TV or a new suit, and the next day they’re shopping for a hotel room. Those macro retail trends around consumer behavior really aren’t all that different.
I did a little reading on some retail trends that are taking that industry by storm, and I’ve identified five that I think hoteliers can glean some insight from:
Customer service must flow from in-person to online
The global retail industry is facing a huge struggle these days in the form of showrooming—that’s when people go into a store to try on a blouse or read through a couple pages of a book, then go home and order the same product online from the cheapest source they can find.
It’s driven big retailers to up their online store games significantly, and focus on customer service for brick-and-mortar stores. Where retailers are leading the charge, though, is in finding ways to make customer service truly omnichannel—i.e., bringing local customer service to the online shopping environment. Big retailers like Saks Fifth Avenue and Macy’s are testing software that allows online guests to interact with their local stores and sales associates for those personal recommendations.
Read more about it here, and think about this in a hotel context: You spend so much marketing money getting guests to your brand.com site and loading it with great content and photography. What about finding ways to incorporate your signature customer service even in the shopping phase?
Accessible luxury and premiumization
“Accessible luxury” is a retail insider’s term that describes a segment that’s been a moneymaker for years.
Think of “accessible luxury” retail brands as the upscale chain segments of that industry—brands that definitely aren’t economy, but which you could afford and flaunt proudly if you only clocked a few extra hours at your side gig. In the retail world, it’s Kate Spade, Coach and Longchamp, not Louis Vuitton or Dior.
Think of their hotel equivalent as the boutiques: They carry status but are a bit more individual and unique, and more accessible. They’re places where guests like to be seen and are willing to pay a little higher rate for it.
The danger with accessible luxury is that the status it carries can dilute, or at least ebb and flow with supply and demand. For example, remember when Coach logo bags were popular among adult women, but then 8-year-olds started carrying them and, poof, we were finished?
Enter premiumization, an emerging retail trend designed to keep luxury brands firmly in their space, but also throw a bone to us commoners now and then in the form of select, lower-priced entry points like branded keychains or something similarly tiny but special.
What does this mean for hotels? Hotels likely can succeed in the accessible luxury space with more longevity than a fashion brand might, and I think that’s the goal of a lot of newer lifestyle brands. And as far as premiumization, that’s something luxury hotel brands already are doing—usually in the form of marketing their bars and restaurants as places to see and be seen. Even if a guest can’t necessarily afford a night in the Presidential suite, he can splurge on a cocktail, right?
Youth drive trends
We just can’t get away from it—millennials, Gen Z and those of their digital-native mindset drive trends all over the world. Retailers are seeing this play out in two major ways: Younger shoppers want unique, non-cookie-cutter products. And younger shoppers are all about online and mobile shopping.
This article is a great take on how retailers are adapting to these trends, particularly when it comes to bridging that service gap between in-person and online experiences.
I borrowed that term from this article because I just couldn’t pass it up. According to research, men for the first time are outspending women in clothing purchases (and we all know that’s been the case in electronics purchases forever). It’s an important shift in trends that definitely hoteliers can take as an example.
Case in point: Last year, we ran an article about “mancations” (again, a terrible but effective fake word) that skyrocketed to the peak of our top-viewed articles in 2016. Who would have thought?
Payment systems are getting more flexible
In their quest to make the in-store purchasing process seamless for customers, retailers are leading the charge when it comes to payment system flexibility. Mobile pay is far more prevalent in retail than in hospitality, and point-of-sale payment (eliminating waiting in line) is taking off as well at many retail locations.
Yes, the hotel industry has its share of hurdles to overcome when it comes to payment system security, but it’s clear that alternative payment methods are here, and they’re what consumers expect.
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