Midsummer checkup

Trend Whisperer’s mid-year update kept my email screen at full capacity, and with another month remaining of this milder-than-usual Orange County, California, summer, the timing couldn’t be better to point out some of the obvious trends affecting the who, what, how and where of the hospitality industry.

How and where

A favorite resource for many, the Orbitz Summer forecast, reports a majority of summer vacations are taking place at the beach (42%) followed by historical or cultural trips (15%) and cruise vacations (13%). As expected, Las Vegas, Hawaii and Orlando, Florida, continue as top destinations, but also in the mix were a few surprises (thanks to flash sales) offered to lure travelers to Vancouver, Cancun and Rome.

Surprisingly, Orbitz claims 23% of travelers are not leaving home without their pet, and nearly 60% state they are “secretly” checking in with work while on vacation. Europe’s economic woes and drop in airfares have made it a top tourism destination for American travelers. And are you sitting for this statistic? River cruises are selling out more than a year in advance! (Yes, r-i-v-e-r cruises!)

Who and what

Another survey (taken by 1,200 guests from Destination properties) claims 76% of travelers are taking multiple short trips compared to only 22% who are embarking on a traditional, week-or-longer summer escape. 

Travelers are still ranting over higher ticket prices as they invest more time than ever in comparison shopping. However, airlines have stayed a step ahead of those who compare and in lieu of increasing the cost of buying a seat, they simply jumped on the extra-fee bandwagon. Of all the fees being charged — whether for extra leg room, last-minute flight changes, fast-tracking through security lines or purchasing upgraded in-flight meals, I still find the most irritating to be the baggage fees. 

Chinese tourists

We all know Chinese outbound tourism is the fastest- and biggest-growing sector in travel. An extraordinary wave of millions of Chinese travelers from across a variety of income levels is taking the world by storm.

If possible, do not assign Chinese guests rooms on the 4th floor or containing “4” (4, 14, 24, 34, etc.) in the room number as this number is associated with death. Room numbers containing “6”, “8” or “9” or located on the sixth, eighth or ninth floor are considered to be “lucky” rooms.

Many Chinese understand little English, German or French. Having pre-printed Chinese directions for airports, train stations, cable cars, museums, entrances and exits, bathrooms, et cetera is a must.

The Chinese are avid evening and weekend shoppers. Make sure your gift shop is open longer than usual and especially when they arrive and depart.

Chinese love to drink hot tea or hot water. Add additional tea blends such as green tea to your in-room coffee presentation. During check-in, hot towels and water are appreciated.

Ensure a quick check-in and check-out service — a must if you desire repeat business from the Chinese.

Come on, get ‘app-y’ 

We all know apps are hot and convenient, so don’t shrug them off, as they will also nurture guest loyalty. While TripAdvisor and Yelp lead the list of most popular websites, Pinterest, Foursquare and Instagram are gaining momentum as guests gather insider tips while on the road.

Going to the dogs?

Dog owners want hoteliers to know there is a drastic difference between being “dog-friendly” and simply allowing a dog to stay in a room. Just as people like to be pampered as hotel guests, there is a degree of hospitality that owners desire for their dogs.

Side note to hotel management: An increasing number of pet owners are turning towards dog-friendly websites and social media as opposed to visitor bureaus, newspaper travel sections, magazines, guidebooks or even Internet search engines. Pass this tip along to your marketing team and be sure to stock giveaway treats and cleanup bags at your front desk.

It’s your turn! What new summer trends are happening in the world of tourism and travel at your property? Any specific tips you’ve adopted this summer that you’d like to share with other properties? Any surprises catching you offguard?