Predictions and resolutions for 2014

Happy New Year, everyone! Now that 2014 is almost here, it’s time for the somewhat perfunctory but always fun resolutions declaration for how you can better yourself as a hotelier come the January 1st reboot. But rather than only dwell on platitudes, this year I’ve decided to combine resolutions with my predictions for what will impact our industry over the next 12 months. Take what you can from this list and know that a forward-thinking hotelier is one destined for success. Turn these predictions into resolutions for your own gain.

1. Streaming hegemony

With digital screens everywhere you look and more opportunities than ever before to watch videos, streaming will continue to rule the day in the next few years. This trend is also deeply entwined with the fortunes of Netflix, which by recent accounts now represents about a third of all of the Internet’s streaming. As a hotelier, this development is either something you can embrace to gain the admiration of your guests or something you can resist by adhering to an archaic low bandwidth, heavily surcharged Wi-Fi connection (or worse, Ethernet only). After all, we live in an era of endless options; if a guest wants to stream a television show while staying with you, how do you think they’ll feel if you limit their options?

2. Dual-screen experience

First came laptops, then smartphones and tablets, and now the average person has two or even three screens vying for their time at any given moment. It’s all too easy nowadays to picture someone watching a movie on a massive LCD monitor while also reading on a Kindle or iPad and answering incoming text messages on a Samsung Galaxy. So what would all smart marketers do in this situation? That’s right: engineer experiences that capitalize on people’s dual-screen behavior. Hit television shows have accompanying apps, as do video games. Perhaps there’s a way for hotels to get involved …

3. Healthy green dining

Search the web and you’ll find an original article posted every day of the week discussing foods that will make you healthier, whether it’s fat reduction, reversing the signs of aging or boosting the immune system. We are what we eat, after all, and people the world over have woken up to more conscientious dietary habits. Similar to my thoughts on streaming, this is something you should proactively embrace by continually updating your menu as new nutritional studies are published with fresh insights on de rigueur superfoods.

Moreover, two concurrent trends are green eating and farm-to-table. Healthy food options are popular, but you must also be mindful to select environmentally conscious ingredients, preferably from local sources. Although these are deal-breakers for only a slim minority of the population, they are bonuses that you can market to everybody else.

4. Indulgence resurgence

The foodie scene appears to be bifurcating. On the one hand, people are opting for consistently austere diets of lean meats, complex carbs and organic veggies. Yet on the other hand, burgers, barbecue and desserts have never been more calorically intense. It’s almost a rite of passage for chefs to have one “ultimate” option on the menu or to add excessive amounts of flour, butter, cream, salt and sugar to their dishes to maximize flavor burst. I liken it to an arms race, with every restaurant striving to outdo its immediate rivals or distinguish itself with increasingly outlandish offerings. People want these decadent options, and they want to try new, creative tastes, so this is one arms race for which you shouldn’t claim neutrality.

5. The social lobby bar

We live in a social world. Given that with smartphones people can stay connected from nearly anywhere in the world, it also makes it easier for them to gather and enjoy a drink or meal together. Add in some friendly servers, a few big-screen televisions and a cool ambiance, and you have the makings of a fun night at a great spot.

It’s folly to think of your lobby bar as a place only for guests to congregate. Instead, think of it as a point of confluence for locals and travelers alike in an atmosphere that inspires people of all walks of life to mingle and exchange stories. Just look at “Casablanca” — one of my favorite movies — as an example. Hotel lobby bars used to be community centers of sophistication, and it’s time we returned to that ideal.