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The Four Horsemen of the Hotel Apocalypse | Laguna Strategic Advisors

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By: Larry Mogelonsky
Member of Laguna Strategic Advisors

We survived Y2K. We outlived the end of the Mayan calendar. But are you ready for the total annihilation of everything your property holds sacred?

These four ever-present issues are what I see have the four largest problems that we hoteliers will need to confront within the next decade. As I present the hypothetical ‘Four Horsemen of the Hotel Apocalypse’, let’s keep in mind that not only has the idea of the biblical four horsemen changed over time, but so too will the four main detractors to our industry’s current practices.

PLAGUE (red horse) – The OTAs
This one is like beating a dead horse. Nothing better represents a constant pestilence on the state of affairs in our industry as the damage the OTAs have done to warp consumer behavior. Much like a virus or airborne pathogen that weakens its host, by all but forcing customers to use their high commission platforms, the OTAs have reduced our margins and cash flow, rendering us, in essence, sick. Furthermore, as the OTAs display properties according to price, together with standardized formats that reduce differentiation, it is one more step towards commoditization.

WAR (white horse) – Airbnb
Sometimes called the horsemen of conquest, this represents something that serves to not simply alter what channels travelers use, but where they will eventually stay. In essence, Airbnb allows anyone to become a hotel operator, and indeed millions have already taken the site up on the offer. Each apartment, mansion or treehouse (for that matter) that’s posted onto the website represents a new product offering in direct competition with preexisting members of the hospitality industry. It’s been argued that Airbnb has opened the doors to a wholly new set of travelers who would never have otherwise utilized hotel accommodations, but this can only be partially true and ultimately hotel customers are being stolen.

FAMINE (black horse) – Too Many Brands
It seems like every week, there is an announcement of sorts of a new branded hotel concept into an already crowded marketplace. According to the ‘paradox of choice’ psychology theory, when you give people too many options to choice from, it makes the decision-making process increasingly difficult, which can reduce satisfaction with the final selection or even prevent a verdict from being made. It’s like spreading butter over too much bread; too many brands means that it is harder for any single brand to create a landing impression from marketing or advertising efforts alone.

DEATH (pale horse) – Lack of Entrepreneurship
In other words, your property will die if you are lazy or only do what’s required. Entrepreneurship means having a gung ho passion about your line of work as well as the motivation to put in those grueling long hours to actually see tasks through to fruition. It’s all too easy to become a punch card employee, doing only the bare minimum to stay afloat. What’s needed for any semblance of success is initiative – for instance, the desire to spend an extra hour every day reading the trades so you are in touch with the latest service advancements or putting into action those projects that your team has only talked about but can’t seem to find the time to get underway. It means doing more than just pay-per-click or transactional marketing which, in-effect, buys business rather than generating loyalty or branded ‘reasons-to-purchase-and-keep-on-purchasing’.

Short but sweet, and likely to rouse a touch of controversy. As controversy spurs debate, I’m all for it. So, how are you addressing four horsemen of the hotel apocalypse? What would you change or add to these four described above?

Originally published in HotelsMAG