2015 Industry Trends

GIHE CEO Judy Hou Judy Hou, CEO of Glion Institute of Higher Education, takes a look at the current state of the hospitality industry and shares her views on predicted 2015 industry trends.

Hospitality Reaching Luxury Retail and Finance Industries

According to Deloitte’s 2014 luxury goods report, the world’s top 75 luxury brands accounted for US$171.8 billion of aggregate net sales in 2012 and a compound annual growth rate of 14.3 percent (2010–2012). This strong performance is partly owed to enhanced customer service: buying a luxury bag, for instance, is now considered an experience and who better to accommodate customers and their expectations than trained hospitality graduates?

At Glion, we organise a series of company visits to our campus every semester, allowing industry partners to present their businesses to our students, enabling them to learn about potential employers and connect with hiring managers. The number of visits has been on the rise, reaching more than 50 per semester. Remarkably, the background of the hiring companies has also been expanding. For many years, we typically welcomed leading hotel companies, but recently we have seen increasing interest from representatives of the luxury and finance industries, including brands such as Roger Dubuis Luxury Watches, Rolex, J.P. Morgan and Bloomberg Business.

Bespoke Customer Service

The most likely reason for this trend is a recently heightened focus on customer service at high-end retailers and financial institutions. The soft skills, interpersonal abilities and flair for languages that we equip our students with are beneficial to the customer relationship management (CRM) of several industries that serve sophisticated clients who expect the highest standard of service.

Furthermore, with a clientele from emerging markets such as the United Arab Emirates, Brazil and China driving demand for personalised experiences, it is vital that businesses are able to adapt branded messages to regional costumer preferences, as outlined in the latest IHG report on building consumer trust. The report’s key finding is that the greater the personalisation, the more successful a brand will be.

At Glion, we teach our students to embrace personalisation through applied hands-on learning, requiring innovation, attention to detail, responsiveness to customer demands and a high level of individual care. Within our campus restaurants and reception desks, our students learn to provide attentive service to their peers, who represent more than 90 nationalities. This type of multicultural, peer-to-peer service training is highly effective in developing the ability to anticipate needs based on cultural standards.

Redefining the Conference and Event Industry

Global business travel spending reached US$1.1 trillion in 2013, and is expected to grow by 8.6% in 2015, as shown by the Global Business Travel Association’s 2015 Outlook. The industry is experiencing a shift from traditional company events as event planners are building more interdisciplinary events that transport brand messages to audiences on several levels and depend on technological support to create memorable experiences that attendees will recall long after a conference.

As with the previous trends, the goal is to create an experience. An event may be an opportunity for a business to position itself as a thought leader in its industry by appointing recognised guest speakers or organising panel discussions assessing aspects of the business.

New event technology is a main driver in the event’s revolution, allowing the audience to actively participate in the discussion and share live footage through online platforms. The trend is to reinterpret traditional networking opportunities from face-to-face interactions to more targeted digital spaces.

Together, the added experience and new digital possibilities create a stronger, longer lasting event impact that reaches a wider audience.

The Latest in Revenue Management

Glion’s undergraduate programs are business degrees with a hospitality focus and our students choose specializations to develop expertise for core hospitality disciplines, as in the Real Estate Finance and Revenue Management specialization. This track teaches students the art of finance and revenue management: how to balance the costs and profits of hotel operations, how to research and plan real estate ventures and how to manage property assets and portfolios, among other financial management skills.

One revenue management challenge that many hotels are facing today is caused by online travel agencies, including peer reviewed travel sites, which drive down profitability by selling rooms at lower rates. In 2015, we may see more hotels attempt to maximize profit per room by encouraging guests to book directly through the hotel instead of an agency. This seems challenging, but hotels are growing more confident and beginning to renegotiate commission fees as more OTA’s enter the market. Hotels aim to retain new guests by inviting them to book their next stay directly, perhaps by offering perks or a discounted service.

Education for Working Adults

As hospitality management educators, we must not only monitor emerging trends of the hospitality industry, but also look to the higher education landscape. In the U.S., approximately 38% of enrolled undergrad students in 2012 were aged 25 or older, and 32% were employed full time, according to the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics. The share of students over 25 is projected to increase another 23% by 2019.

Careers in hospitality are not always linear. Many non-degree professionals rise through the ranks by experience and hard work. However, they often reach a point in middle management where career advancement is slow for non-degree holders.

Glion offers a flexible M.B.A. in Hospitality for mid-career professionals or career-changers that can either be completed on campus, online or a combination of both. This flexibility allows hospitality professionals to remain employed and complete courses in their own time, or take individual modules to earn an executive certificate and revive their career prospects.

Together with our industry partners, Glion keeps a close eye on the hospitality business and monitors developments and innovations. As an educator, we must also track the shifting needs of our students and adapt to the changing educational landscape. Balancing these expectations illustrates Glion’s complex approach to preparing students to succeed in today’s constantly evolving hospitality industry.

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