It’s not new that bricks and mortar stores are suffering, that big names are going out of business or shutting down hundreds of locations in malls across North America. Sears and Macy’s are among the name brands impacted badly, and Payless shoe stores are closing hundreds of locations in an attempt to stay afloat. Not a day goes by without news of retailers going out of business or closing shops.

What is new is the speed with which this is happening. The signs were written in capitals on the walls and yet retailers either could not, did not want, to read them or tried to adapt in futile ways to the new reality. The three monkey’s syndrome. If we ignore it perhaps it will go away. Some realized that they needed to adapt, a great example is Victoria’s secret, and are the darlings of the new consumer group, the Millennials.

I believe that the writing is now on the wall for many hotels, mostly the independents and the generic brands that are proliferating across the globe. I have written about this many times but the article about ’emptying malls’ in the Toronto Star (link: ) this morning made me realize that disaster looms on the horizon for those properties who do not sit up and listen.

By staging creative ‘events’ in their large parking lots, malls across America are attracting people to the locations and hoping that they will go ‘inside’ and spend money at the stores. It is a fight against on line retailers who of course cannot do this. But only time will tell if it will be successful enough to save some retailers or even mall owners.

And soon it will be the hotels’ turn. It is not that tourism is declining, the contrary is true for most destinations. More and more hotels are being constructed with the purpose of taking advantage of this, but more and more are just the ‘same old, same old’, as they say. Cheap construction and a cookie cutter approach has left the cities and countryside dotted with the boring generic brands. As I have said, close the curtains in any room and you could be anywhere in the world.

Competition is already fierce, consolidation is prevalent and the OTA’s are the go-to devils to try and save the day.

Hoteliers: WAKE UP!

It is not too late to do something about it. The need to adapt is more pressing than ever before in the industry. The new generations of customers are looking for something different than those before them. I think that one of the key words to describe what they are looking for is ‘meaningful’. They want a meaningful stay that engages them and and fulfills their needs and expectations in a far different way than before.

They not only want to see a well maintained, clean hotel that is friendly and has a good standard of f&b and facilities, they want more. They want to experience a place that has values. They want a place that cares, for their staff, for the community and for the environment. They live to spend and are look for differentiation, a place that they can admire for not only what it offers as a hotel, but for what it stands for and the actions it takes to deliver.

The road to ‘wellness’ and success leads through adapting to a caring staff culture, involvement and support of the local community, differentiated branding, unique selling points (USP’s) and care for energy efficiency and environment.

In order to keep attracting and growing the customer base, hotels need to engage their guests differently in order to achieve operational excellence and thrive in the market of today and tomorrow. Read the article!

Don’t let what happened to the retailers and malls happen to your property!