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IHG Cites the Futures Company Report on Emerging Trends
By James Ruggia
The InterContinental Group (IHG) of hotels is adding its insights to a report by The Futures Company that focuses on the behavior of new source markets of travelers that it said "will shape the next 10 years of travel," and introduce new psychographic categories of travelers.
The report, "New kinship economy: from travel experiences to travel relationships" identifies groups including "new global explorers" -- travelers from high-growth countries such as China and India. The report says these travelers will follow well-trodden paths, want to visit all the must-see sights and are high spenders. The report also highlights the fact that Asian travelers alone will account for a third of the world's travel spend by 2020.
In recent years the industry has seen moves by Hilton and Accor to create product that meets the expectations of these new Asian travelers. The report predicts an increase in city breaks to what it calls "unknown" cities that few people have yet heard of, or cities that haven't even been built. Some 400 largely unknown midsize cities in emerging markets - predominantly China and India - are projected to generate 40 percent of global economic growth over the next decade and beyond.
"This report shows how the world of travel is constantly evolving and identifies the trends that are set to influence the industry over the next ten years," said IHG Chief Executive Richard Solomons. "IHG is well-placed in the world's developing markets. As new destinations and groups of traveler emerge we will ensure we are meeting the changing needs of those at the heart of our business - our guests."
A full 50 percent of the hotels that IHG plans to develop in the future now come from emerging markets such as Greater China (Mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan). IHG has more than 50,000 rooms under development in this region. IHG is seeing some of its strongest growth in secondary and tertiary cities that aren't yet on the hot lists of the world's traveling population such as Chengdu, Hainan, Xian and Nanjing in China, and Bangalore, Chennai and Hyderabad in India. IHG recently announced a deal to build 13 hotels in India.
Other emerging categories of travelers identified in the report include evolving families, ranging from multi-generational families taking over whole floors in hotels to the growth of single person households stimulating independent travel. A new breed of young business traveler find the typical 9 to 5 working schedule and the hotel business center alien to them. These travelers prefer creative coffeehouse-style environments where they can be inspired by other travelers while they work on their own laptops and smart phones. Another emerging market can be found in the growing numbers of adventurous over 50 travelers - currently and for the first time the fastest growing and most affluent age group. These travelers seek new experiences yet demand services that respect their needs without labeling them as old.
The report also highlights the challenge for the travel industry to balance independence for some guests with a desire for hyper-personalization for others. The Invisible Traveler is a new phenomenon highlighted in the report that describes a guest who could potentially travel "without touching the sides, and may never interact with hotel staff." From planning to booking, check-in at the airport to check-in at the hotel, room service and even concierge services, some travelers are already opting for an entirely independent, human-free travel experience.
Conversely, Predictive Service describes the response to meeting the need for personalized and customized service. From staff that can speak multiple languages through to chefs who can provide vegan meals at short notice, the industry will need to keep evolving the ways they create customer loyalty and build long lasting relationships.
IHG said it is already responding to these challenges. In December, Crowne Plaza will begin offering mobile check-in. The service will eventually become a brand standard, giving guests what they want and enabling staff to handle fewer transactions so they can focus on more meaningful guest interactions. In China, IHG has responded to the need for a bespoke, customized service among travelers by launching a new international hotel brand catering specifically for the needs of Chinese travelers, HUALUXE Hotels & Resorts. In 2011, Hilton Worldwide unveiled its Huanying program targeting Chinese travelers by offering Chinese amenity and service standards including everything from Chinese-language television to electric teakettles.
Source: Travel Pulse
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