The essentials at a hotel might be a good bed, an impeccable bathroom, a good breakfast, a warm welcome. Why isolate them and make them all cookie cutter perfect? Should hospitality really resemble the absolute value of a department store like Paris’s Samaritaine? You could find everything at the Samaritaine where you could pick and choose for yourself. But the compartmentalization of everything destroyed any originality, and today the store is gone.
New products meet new expectations
Launching a new hotel ranking system was expected to kick off a chain reaction in which hoteliers renovated and complied with classification criteria. This, in turn, was expected to generate greater customer satisfaction. However, these efforts, which were colossal for some, only served to shake up the structure a little, and did not succeed in pushing hoteliers far enough in their quest to achieve customer satisfaction.
Technical and technological changes and consumer habits are evolving extremely rapidly so nothing is stable and the cost of these changes necessarily undermines the quality/price ratio. Products have become disproportionately expensive for the services and amenities available and yield management practices aggravate this problem. As new products are developed for the market, hybrid properties offer more services and refocus products on customer expectations by offering user-friendly common areas. These also generate better profitability for the operator by reducing space in rooms and making additional paid services available.
Classifications that have lost their class
While these hybrid products work well and meet expectations, they are unclassifiable. However, it is possible to meet standards without degrading their level.
What elements are crucial to meeting customer expectations? Six hangers in the closet or a bidet in 25% of bathrooms? Do we know what the customer really wants? Do we realize that their expectations and needs change depending on the time of day?
Trying to meet all needs with a single solution only weakens the product and undermines the creativity of hotel industry professionals. As a result, brands that value their identity and believe in their concept and their positioning find that the only solution is to shift away from the hotel ranking. This act of protest, rather than marginalizing them, gives them a certain uniqueness in the eyes of their carefully targeted, cherished and cared-for clientele.
Customers turn away from the traditional commercial supply
A shortage of accommodations in some destinations has led to an incongruent quality/price ratio. It should come as no surprise that Airbnb is developing exponentially by offering its customers a more affordable alternative. Indeed, how can one conceive of sleeping in a 2-star property for 200€ a night when a customer can discover a property from every angle before going there thanks to virtual tours and Instagram, scrutinize customer reviews... and even find a more spacious and better located option just a click away... Although services will certainly be less comprehensive, do they really determine the customer's choice?
Reinstating the status of standards
Quality, and the norms and standards required to meet it, plays a role in the health of the hotel market, but only if hotels keep up with and adapt to consumer needs and expectations. Consumers are the ones who must influence the criteria of standards to restore transparency to the market. Only a free market can ensure they all progress. In this sense each and every role and profession is important. Creativity is necessary at all levels of the value chain (hotel, architect, investor, etc.) and the uniqueness of each individual must be cultivated because this is what gives the product its strength. There has been excess in recent years and the framework is too rigid. The time has come to adapt and rethink the game.
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