Gillian Saunders finds burgeoning growth in the hospitality and tourism sector
As the global economy slowly recovers its verve, so business leaders in the hospitality and tourism sector are looking at new ways to grow their operations. So says our International Business Report (IBR), which interviews around 150 senior executives in the sector globally every quarter.
The survey finds more than half of businesses in hospitality and tourism plan to increase marketing spend over the next 12 months – at 52% this is well above the global average of 33%. Almost half (43%) are even planning to launch a new product or service, compared to just 29% of all businesses globally.
The hospitality and tourism sector suffered disproportionately as commercial and domestic discretionary budgets were cut in the face of austerity and the global slowdown, so this increased focus on developing new revenue streams is very welcome. Investment in marketing activity is vital in a sector where growing numbers of customers review their vacation online, heightening competition and visibility of the customer experience. In an increasingly digital world, building a strong online presence is vital. Offering virtual tours of facilities and showing recent customer feedback are fast becoming the norm for businesses; and not even to differentiate, merely to keep pace. Investing time and resources in social media activation and amplification can help to boost brands and mitigate criticism.
Developing new products and services is another great way for hospitality and tourism businesses to grab market share, so it’s encouraging to see more than two in five companies likely to take action in this area during the year ahead. These can range from the basic – such as a golf course including lunch with a round, to the more investment-heavy – such as building spa treatment facilities. The important thing is not the complexity but how this taps into customer demand and how these new products or services are marketed.
The results show that the most dynamic business leaders in the sector are no longer simply trying to keeps their heads above water; they are looking at new ways to grow, developing more comprehensive packages and, just as importantly, investing time and resources in shouting about them. Customers have a world of choice at their fingertips. Marketing hospitality and tourism services appropriately to help them stand out in a crowded marketplace has never been so important.
Gillian Saunders is global leader for hospitality & tourism at Grant Thornton.