A: I’ve always been a huge advocate for the passion and enthusiasm that this industry has, and the individuality our hotels exhibit. To me, our hotel owners are the lifeblood of what the industry is all about, and it is exactly your passion which decides the difference between a fad and a trend, a gimmick and an essential within your own operation.
For me, evaluation of whether to adopt a ‘trend’ should draw on a few aspects; the first being your personal principals. Taking for example the issue of going plastic free and I can offer you my personal opinion (that you should because it’s a concern for me), but if you (or a member of your team) aren’t passionate about it, it makes things much more complicated to adopt and change and much less genuine. If you don’t believe in being plastic free, but you do it anyway, it’s far more likely to come across as a token gimmick.
The issue of plastic is a difficult one as true it is probably technically a ‘trend’ but in reality, this is an easy target for a growing movement of consumer expectations, which introduces the issue of morals and ethics into running a business. Concern for the environment is a growing one, and some of the early adopters of the plastic free movement did get positive PR off the topic, but now, you’re arguably a late adopter, and it won’t necessarily bring you positive PR to shove your “martyrdom” down people’s throats, particularly when it’s often the minimum that’s expected.
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it though and there are still pros to getting it done, and to letting your potential clients know it is part of your ethos. A discreet message on the website should do the trick, highlighting your environmental commitments, then if it is important to your guest, great and if it isn’t, then no problem.
Turning to your other trend of glamping pods, and this is the less black and white issue, with little concern for morals. When considering adopting a trend like this, the issue is far more complex and as well as drawing on personal passions, you’ll need to look hard at the business case too. At this point, it’s all about risk assessment and cost-benefit analysis.
Consider the size and scope of the market, the number of competitors in your area, whether the market is growing or shrinking, how much it will cost you and what potential returns you can garner, and look to learn lessons from others; what are they doing well or badly? Then look at the commercial aspects; at what point will you break even, at what point will you make a profit, and where is the dangerous loss-making zone – how long can you sustain that for?
True, you have the opportunity to capitalise on a trend, but it is early adopters who usually earn the most from trend-seekers. For me, it simply comes back to the business case and what is right or not for the business.
Next up, consider the relevance of what you are hoping to do? The glamping pod itself is all well and good, but how does it fit into your overall service proposition and brand? The pod is just a medium for a trend and there are endless options to customise, design and install pods, so think about your wider offering.
You mention them being ‘eco-pods’, but you’ve also alluded to the hotel still using plastic, so are you really targeting the right audience by making your pods eco? Will eco-guests like what they find when they get there and see the rest of the complex? Using the pods as a vehicle, you need to marry what you offer from them, alongside what you offer within the traditional hotel model or change both to work together.
You’ve selected two topics which are arguably quite easy to assess and evaluate and which are well-established enough that the element of unknown risk is low. So perhaps the question comes about adopting future ‘trends’ when they are not so dominant.
In the last few years, we’ve seen everything from keyless room entry with your mobile phone, through to QR code menus to order room service. Keyless entry is expensive, but adds an element of convenience for the guest, while QR codes are cheap, but didn’t really catch on all that much. They’d score differently in a cost-benefit analysis, which brings me to my two closing points. The first, is does it make things simpler, easier or more efficient. Are your guests or your team going to benefit, in which case it has a greater appeal – keyless entry yes, QR codes, probably not.
The final is your attitude to risk. Sometimes, adopting a trend or not simply comes down to the information available at the time and your gut feel about it, and some will work out while others won’t. As long as you can afford to take the risk you’re golden, so try not to overthink the small stuff too much!