It’s Friday the 13th, so what scares you?
It’s Friday the 13th, so what scares you?
13 OCTOBER 2017 7:09 AM

Let’s celebrate this Friday the 13th, the most inauspicious and suspicious of nonholidays, by cataloging what scares today’s hotelier.

As a rational human being in the year 2017, I think it’s probably safe to assume that you, dear reader, aren’t particularly shocked or concerned with black cats. You probably don’t spend too much time worrying about how a few careless footfalls might soon doom your mother to emergency spinal surgery. You likely wouldn’t break a sweat even if you broke a mirror while walking under a ladder on the day you left your rabbit’s foot at home.

But there is still a mystical allure, no matter how nonsensical, to Friday the 13th and the supposed bad luck and ominous tidings attached to it.

So I figured in celebration of this particularly inauspicious day, it’d be worth running through a quick list of things that currently seem to spark a bone-chilling, shiver-inducing, deep-seated fear in hoteliers.

It doesn’t include any goalie-mask-wearing serial killers, but here’s the best I could come up with.

No one likes to ever actually admit they’re afraid of competition, but hoteliers in general seem to shake in their boots whenever the prospect of Airbnb comes up.

It’s understandable, though, because there’s a lot to be afraid of. The platform, while not wholly unique, creates a possibly that with little more than a flip of a switch there could be twice as much competing supply in your market. And these properties have no rate integrity, whatsoever!

Creeping costs
Employee payroll, labor and materials for construction, utilities, contracts with vendors. These are all things that cost money, and many of them are either on an upward swing or could be pushed upward by external factors. In an environment where revenues aren’t growing as quickly as they had been, creeping costs are enough to keep many hoteliers up at night.

Government regulations
On a national scale in the U.S., the pendulum seems to be swinging away from regulation in various sectors, but that’s not a certainty at a state or local level, which are often even more impactful for an individual property. And as with anything politically driven, there’s no guarantee some level of higher regulation isn’t coming down the pike at some point in the future.

Black swans
They’re clearly worse than black cats. This seems to be at the same time the most amorphous and most concrete fear possible.

It’s reasonable to be afraid of some widespread bad thing happening in the future, because history has shown again and again that it will, but there’s no reason to sit and prognosticate on what that unknown bad thing might be. After all, history has shown again and again that people are bad at guessing. Or maybe you could consult Nostradamus for some insights.

General uncertainty
The Catch-22 with that last point is nothing seems to scare businesspeople—including hoteliers—more than the unknown. It’s the adult equivalent of a child’s fear of the dark.

We don’t know what we don’t know. So we transform those unknown unknowns into stand-ins for the worst-case scenarios, forgetting that the things we don’t know might not be so bad in some circumstances.

Bed bugs
Not that this is actually a monumental concern, but they’re literal creepy crawlies, so I figured they’d fit well thematically on this list. And nothing can kill a hotels’ reputation online like a review that mentions spotting bed bugs, which in some cases those reviews might not even need be accurate or up to date.

What do you think? Got anything to add to the list? Let me know via email or on Twitter.

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