Peter Greenberg: Hotels Imitating Airlines Is “the Road to Disaster”

by Harvey Chipkin / 

Hotels are following the lead of airlines in seeking revenues over customer satisfaction “and that is the road to disaster,” Peter Greenberg, travel editor of CBS News told a meeting of the New York chapter of Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International (HSMAI).

In a pointed address, Greenberg, known as the Travel Detective, told the audience “We are living in an age of disruption – economic, political and natural disasters.”

“The hotel industry wants to be accountants and not visionaries.”
Greenberg said that someone recently booked the presidential suite at a Hawaii resort for $4,000 a night for seven nights. He checked out after one day because of a $30 resort fee.

“We need to educate hotel owners that it’s about the respect you give your guests.”
Greenberg said he recently stepped into a hotel room and saw a bottle of water with a neck card saying, “quench your thirst” and a price of $8. “Yes, there is a revenue manager happy about that $8 but I told four million people on social media about it.”

“Revenue management, so highly touted by travel suppliers, should become revenue intelligence.”
Noting that four airlines now “own the market,” Greenberg said hotels may be heading in the same direction with Marriott opening a new hotel every 14 hours and Wyndham every 12. Despite their size and potential power, Greenberg said hotels “have to be about experiences and telling stories and making an emotional connection.”

“Airlines are picking routes based on yield and not demand.”
Greenberg noted that at one time airlines bragged about serving all 50 states but now limit their routes to proven profit centers. “I’m happy they are making money but that has meant far worse service. We now define a successful journey by how much we can minimize the abuse; why would hotels want to follow that lead?”

“All travel suppliers have to think about telling great stories.”
It’s not about the luxury spa, said Greenberg. “How many advertising photos do you see of a gorgeous woman” in a spa? “That is not telling a story about what a guest might experience. We need to show real people doing real things.”

“Travel sellers should worry about ‘perennials’ rather than millennials.”
Perennials are the people “who you want to come back” and they come back because of the “heroes” in hotels, including housekeepers and other “back-of-the-house” staff. Hoteliers need to enable relationships between guests and anybody who works in the back of the house because “the back of the house is the front” and those are the people who know where to go.

Declare yourself an asterisk free zone.”
By asterisk he meant exclusions and exemptions – such as what’s not included at an “all-inclusive” resort. “People are tired of being nickel and dimed and beaten up. You’ll have to sedate the lawyers but hospitality is a business built on trust. “

“Evolved agents” are the real winners.
Greenberg explained to TMR that “evolved travel agents” would be the winners in this disrupted world. He said an evolved agent “is someone who is not just transactional but focuses on the conversation, to learn more about their client and be in a better position to help them.” Greenberg said agents “need to be proactive now, to think outside the box because in the world of disruption if you don’t anticipate the changes (and the optics of those changes) your credibility suffers by association.”

Article originally appeared on Travel Market Report here.