|“It’s changed everything,” says Laurence Geller. The CEO of Strategic Hotels & Resorts, who is never one to fret over speaking his mind, is talking about the effects of digital platforms and social media on the hospitality and tourism industry.
Fresh off a speech last week to an audience of industry figures at the International Leadership School in London, the 45-year hospitality veteran who has garnered more accolades than can be listed in this space—he was even named a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) by Queen Elizabeth II—spoke with Lodging from Paris, France, about what he calls the “relentless pace of change” in the hospitality and tourism industries brought about by the quick growth of digital media and social networking platforms. He also discussed the need for industry leadership to recognize these platforms and move quickly to adapt to them.
“It’s changed the world as you and I know it,” he continues. “From a marketing point of view, I think this spurs the revolution of the getting rid of most of the traditional marketing media we’ve had.”
In his speech, Geller said that the hospitality and tourism trade still hasn’t grasped the challenges faced by community and socially driven channels such as Facebook and Trip Advisor. Rather than seeing them as a threat, he said they should be embraced as an opportunity to develop the next generation of industry leaders. It’s a message he says, he will keep saying until the industry gets it.
“Every hotel will have the ability to respond to any comment about them instantly, and they’ll have third-party or in-house people doing it,” Geller says. “It’s a whole new paradigm.”
But that’s down the road, according to Geller. For now he thinks the hotel industry when it comes to adapting to social media channels is, “still up there in a cottage-industry status, up there with the glacial age.”
He does allow that the hotel chains have recognized the importance of social networking and are doing their best to add programs. However, he points out that simply adding in programs to existing programs can result in adding more unfocused costs to a hotel operation. “What’s still happening is, within the brands and the individual hotels, is that they’re not fully sure what this all means,” he says. “They’re adding programs but they’re really not taking much away. These cubicles and offices, instead of getting smaller, get bigger.”
While consumers are finding more efficient ways via digital platforms and social networks to shop for travel, Geller contends that hotels must become more efficient in the ways they service and operate those constantly evolving channels.
“I honestly believe we can become more productive in dollars spent on marketing because we’ll have more information about our customers, we’ll be able to reach them digitally, and we’ll know what people are thinking,” he says. “It really affects the whole of the lodging industry.”
He points to companies such YOTEL, which are targeting the younger generation of travelers as models of the modern way. “Those generations are going to be the bulk of the consumers one day,” Geller says. “And they’re making the telephone look redundant, even e-mail is redundant as far as they’re concerned. I have no idea what the next big social media platform will be, but there are 20 of them that are going to happen every five minutes. The only thing I’m sure of is the pace of change is becoming quicker and quicker and we as a hotel industry are not adapting quick enough. We’re overspending our dollars in old technology and not putting everything in new technology.
“We as an industry are good at trying to be all things to all people, but that’s nonsense,” he continues. “You must be targeted.”
Monday, June 10, 2013 by best social bookmarks
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Thursday, June 06, 2013 by social bookmarking service
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LBNhIP I really like and appreciate your blog post.Really looking forward to read more. Much obliged.
Tuesday, July 17, 2012 by Robert Rauch
Right on, Sir Laurence, your comments make you seem young!