What is the future of Hotels?
From time to time we respond to questions about the future sent in via email by readers. We don’t have a lot of time for this, but when a question seems especially interesting we offer our thoughts. This question asks about the future of hotels.
Response by Glen Hiemstra, 2000
The future of hotels and lodging is quite bright, though as always subject to regional market swings. We can expect a very strong general growth in the number of travelers world-wide, the number of tourists world-wide, and the affluence of these travelers and tourists.
First, some evidence. Were we to un-invent almost all the technological advances that came in the 20th Century, such as television and computers and the Internet, and just invent fast jet airplane travel, we?d have a tremendous impact on the world. Travel by jet plane is only 40 years old, yet in 2000 more than a billion passenger trips will be taken. Both of the major airplane manufacturers, Boeing and Airbus, forecast a tripling of air traffic in the next twenty years.
The World Tourism Organization forecasts similar growth in tourism.
What this means obviously is that hotels and lodging are going to be in great and growing demand.
What about the kinds of lodging? Two current trends seem likely to continue for the near term future. First is the growth of suites or multi-amenity hotels in the business travel corridors, so long as they can be priced similarly to standard hotel rooms. Such hotels especially emphasize office-like amenities. In the near term these must include high-speed Internet connections. Business travelers who are used to fast connections (T1 or T3, cable and DSL) at office and home, want and increasingly will need that in the hotel room.
The second trend is toward more resorts which are oriented around golf and/or the sea, and yet include family entertainment. The Grand Wailea on Maui continues to be a good example.
Whether this family emphasis will extend beyond 2010 is open to question, as the most affluent industrial countries see their populations at that time shift heavily toward increasing elder populations.
Undoubtedly the major question facing the industry in the longer term beyond 2010 will be how to adjust to a travel public that will increasingly be over 65 years in age.