Setting a trend, I decided to open my own coworking space in October 2015, The Cowork Space in Pinelands, Cape Town, with my business partner Pauline Hawthorn.
Come and check it out!
|+27 (0)79 505 8841||
More and more companies are downsizing their office space and employee numbers, and opting for freelancers and consultants. This has created a new work style where workers collaborate in cowork spaces outside of the regular office confines. It is projected that more than half the USA workforce will be coworking by end 2016.
Setting a trend, I decided to open my own coworking space in October 2015, The Cowork Space in Pinelands, Cape Town, with my business partner Pauline Hawthorn.
Come and check it out!
Experiential travelers — also known as geotravelers, apparently — are those with a desire to escape outdoors without the pressure of an unexpected interruption due to a connected device.
So says a report by travel and outdoor marketing specialists MERCURYcsc in a new quarterly called the Pulse, which queries its Think T+O Forum, a panel of “more than 1,000 experience seekers.”
The survey asked:
Does technology and the ability to stay connected almost everywhere inhibit or enhance their leisure time? Is it a blessing or a curse, and have we come to peace with its role in our outdoor adventures and vacations? And, what does vacation mean in today’s connected world?
The experiential/geotravelers in question take, on average, five leisure trips per year and are well-educated risk takers who avoid homogenized experiences at all costs.
Those surveyed in the report are also much more likely to take all of their vacation days: while 40% of Americans had unused vacation days last year, 72% of the customers of travel and adventure brands managed to take all of their days.
The folks that this survey are concerned with are far less likely to allow those vacation days to go expired, and are extremely committed to using these vacation days for outdoor adventures. The report points to this as the primary reason for travel marketers to target this cohort.
In addition, those surveyed in this panel were far more likely to fully disconnect to enjoy the outdoor experience, with 75% planning to step away from those commitments to enjoy vacation time. Regardless of intent, these outdoor adventure seekers still end up seeking out connectivity in order to stay afloat at work and avoid that dreaded mountain of catch-up upon return.
Travel marketers looking to appeal to the needs of this group should consider this mixed message on connectivity and determine an approach that both excites the guest to get away while comforting them with the safety fall-back of connectivity if needed.
The conclusion is that those targeting this demographic must make their own strategies to appeal to this outdoor demographic’s love/hate relationship with technology and connectivity while also promoting what makes a destination, tour or adventure so memorable for a vacation getaway. The report recommends:
Travel and Outdoor brands should provide this audience with the emotional and tangible breaks they need to succeed— helping them stay connected while providing constraints to that connectivity, and letting them feel safe turning off their devices knowing they can connect when truly needed. These consumers are willing to turn to outside entities to help them balance immersive experiences with connectivity.
One approach is to choose one side for your brand to champion— acting as either the proverbial angel or devil upon the consumer’s shoulder as they struggle with decisions related to connectivity.
A travel brand might adopt the position that “You’re too connected. Here’s how we’re going to help you decide to unplug,” while an outdoor brand might say “Screw unplugging. Be 100% connected and leave your anxiety at home.” Success could lie at either of the strong points of view, but is unlikely to come from a soft position in the middle.
The full report is available for download (email required) here.
- See more ...
Stayful CEO Cheryl Rosner has a background working at both Hotels.com and Expedia. Stayful is now almost one year old and so far the company is in 19 markets with listings of a few thousand boutique hotels.
The site is skewed to Millennials and seeks to make hotels stays more affordable with its bidding and booking system by enabling one-to-one negotiation on rates. It also hopes to give greater exposure to boutique hotels that have traditionally paid higher distributions costs.
In the video, she discusses the boom in the boutique hotel business with Pimm Fox on "Taking Stock." (Source: Bloomberg)
“You can buy status symbols, but buying an experience is much harder"
Today’s Modern Guests Want Life Experiences Not Luxuries - Hotels Must Adapt, Urges HVS London Study
‘A New Breed of Traveller – how consumers are driving change in the hotel industry’
Hotels are in danger of failing to adapt to a new breed of guest whose needs and demands are entirely different to those of previous generations.
This is the conclusion of a new study in the changing nature of hotel guests undertaken by global hotel consultancy HVS London.
The report, ‘A New Breed of Traveller’, says the impact of rising affluence, globalization and technology has led to modern hotel guests valuing experiences and the feeling of ‘being connected’ over traditional hotel luxuries.
“It seems that many hotels have barely changed over the last decades still consisting of the same in-room amenities, the same heavy curtains, the same check-in process, and the same small desk. This is no longer a place where the modern-day traveller feels at home,” states report co-author HVS associate Veronica Waldthausen
“This new segment of traveller is no longer looking for white-linen service, bellboys to carry their luggage up to their room or a concierge. When the current generation of young travellers enter a hotel, they want to feel completely at home, connected and to be in a setting where they can be part of an experience,” she adds.
The study, which includes interviews from leading hotel executives, outlines the fact that the new generation of travellers see luxury more in the storytelling of having an experience, rather than in the abundance of luxury items. They are much more satisfied with a hotel lobby they can sit in and drink coffee surrounded by other people, than having a coffee machine in their room.
“You can buy status symbols, but buying an experience is much harder. Whereas leading hotels used to be equipped with gadgets and technology, the new breed of traveller wants the confidence of places that understand them, and to be surrounded by a community of like-minded people, wherever they go,” adds Waldthausen.
The changing nature of hotel guests is also prompting change in the traditional layout of hotels. Lobbies, for example, are becoming larger, more open social hubs and gathering spaces, with a mix of comfortable couches, communal workstations and meeting spaces.
Formal divisions between the lobby, restaurant and bars are also disappearing with guests able to sit where they like or help themselves to what they want.
Rooms are changing too, with many lifestyle hotels having smaller rooms as guests spend more time in social places. Desks are becoming less necessary in the room, as people prefer to sit on chairs or on beds to work when using their laptop or tablet.
Meeting rooms are becoming less formal and more ‘homely’ with brighter colour schemes and comfortable chairs. Hotels are becoming creative with their breakout spaces to allow guests to feel that they are in their own home some with breakout space with a communal kitchen.
Hotel service is becoming more intuitive and casual, albeit with the same level of respect. Some hotels are abandoning uniforms and the days of scripting responses to guests are over.
“Guests are looking for a home-away-from-home. The new era is about participating in an experience, rather than flaunting wealth. Travellers today don’t want to feel like they are in a corporate setting, but thrive in environments where they can interact with people, be it face-to-face or virtual. They want everyone to participate and don’t mind interacting with new people,” says co-author Arlett Oehmichen, HVS London director.
“The new-breed of ‘lifestyle’ hotels have adapted, differentiating themselves in both style and service and are offering a new kind of product that is comfortable and simple, a place where guests can become part of an experience by interacting with the people that live there as well as staff. There will always be a market for wall-to-wall luxury, but it is lifestyle hotels that are prompting change throughout the industry,” Oehmichen concludes.
To download a copy of ‘A New Breed of Traveller – how consumers are driving change in the hotel industry’ by Veronica Waldthausen and Arlett Oehmichen click here.
Linda Pettit, Tilburstow Media Partners
Tel: +44 13 4283 2866
Mobile: +44 79 7378 9853
Some more info on Millennials - the little video is also great. Wilna
The Key Facts:
written by Jeff Fromm
Based on our research we know that:
If you’d rather learn about the findings another way, you can watch this handy video:
... I am fascinated about how to communicate to Millennials -and here are some trends to look out for. - Wilna
Top 10 Hospitality Industry Trends in 2014
By Robert Rauch, CHA
Robert Rauch serves as President of R. A. Rauch & Associates, Inc. He is a nationally recognized hotelier serving clients in all facets of the industry. Rauch has over 35 years of hospitality-related management experience. Widely recognized as the "hotel guru," Mr. Rauch maintains a blog where he expounds upon insights and trends in the hospitality industry at www.hotelguru.com.
Generation Y, also known as the Millennial Generation, are the demographic cohort following Generation X. There are no precise dates for when Generation Y starts and ends. Commentators use beginning birth dates ranging from the early 1980s to the early 2000s (decade).
Millennials are sometimes called Echo Boomers, due to the significant increase in birth rates during the 1980s and into the 1990s. Millennials are mostly the children of baby boomers or Gen Xers. The 20th century trend toward smaller families in developed countries continued, however, so the relative impact of the "baby boom echo" was generally less pronounced than the original boom.
Millennial characteristics vary by region, depending on social and economic conditions. It is generally marked by an increased use and familiarity with communication, media, and digital technologies. In most parts of the world its upbringing was marked by an increase in a neoliberal approach to politics and economics; the effects of this...
Source: millennials on Freebase, licensed under CC-BY
I use a great program to design logos and website buttons called AAA Logo. It is affordable, versatile and easy to use. They also have some good logo templates to get your creative juices flowing!
If you buy from them now, you get 50% off if you use this code 'AFP1859'
Just when I think I am getting to grips with Facebook - I realise I am behind again! This is a long article but well worth the read if you want to understand this social media giant - Wilna
EdgeRank Is Dead: Facebook’s News Feed Algorithm Now Has Close To 100K Weight Factors by Matt McGee (Edited my me)
EdgeRank, Facebook’s original News Feed ranking system, is dead.
Facebook hasn’t used the word internally for about two-and-a-half years. That’s when the company began employing a more complex ranking algorithm based on machine learning. The current News Feed algorithm doesn’t have a catchy name, but it’s clear from talking to the company’s engineers that EdgeRank is a thing of the past.
During a phone call this week, Lars Backstrom, Engineering Manager for News Feed Ranking at Facebook, estimated that there are as many as “100,000 individual weights in the model that produces News Feed.” The three original EdgeRank elements — Affinity, Weight and Time Decay — are still factors in News Feed ranking, but “other things are equally important,” he says.
In other words, the News Feed algorithm of today is much more sophisticated than just a couple years ago.
“The easiest analogy is to search engines and how they rank web pages,” Backstrom says. “It’s like comparing the Google of today with Alta Vista. Both Google and Bing have a lot of new signals, like personalization, that they use. It’s more sophisticated than the early days of search, when the words on a page were the most important thing.”
This has implications for marketers and business owners far beyond the wording used to describe News Feed rankings. It’s a reflection — and a cause, too — of today’s complex battle to reach Facebook users organically.
The winners? They’ll be the ones who understand how Facebook has moved past Affinity, Weight and Time Decay, and move past it themselves.
But now that job is a lot more complicated than ever.
Consider that there are more than a billion people using Facebook each month. And 128 million in the U.S. that use Facebook every day. They’re using dozens of different mobile devices with different capabilities for displaying content. There are 18 million Pages, many of which are actively looking for attention and a way to show up the News Feed as often as possible. And that number doesn’t include the numerous businesses that are using Facebook via regular accounts rather than Pages.
With all of that going on, Facebook says that the typical user has about 1,500 stories that couldshow in the News Feed on every visit.
So how does Facebook decide what users see, and what content from Facebook Pages make it into the News Feed? As you can imagine, Facebook isn’t about to give away all the details, but Backstrom did talk openly about several ways that the algorithm has grown up in recent years.
Affinity, Weight & Time Decay - These are “still important,” Backstrom says, but there are now multiple weight levels. “There are a lot of different facets. We have categories and sub-categories of affinity.”
Facebook is attempting to measure how close each user is to friends and Pages, but that measurement isn’t just based on personal interactions. Backstrom says Facebook looks at global interactions, too, and those can outweigh personal interactions if the signal is strong enough.
“For example, if we show an update to 100 users, but only a couple of them interact with it, we may not show it in your News Feed. But if a lot of people are interacting with it, we might decide to show it to you, too.”
Relationship Settings Another factor is the relationship settings that Facebook users can apply. With each friend, you can go a step further and label the person a “close friend” or “acquaintance.” With liked Pages, users can choose to “Get notifications” or “Receive updates,” and there are deeper settings to control what kind of content the user wants to see.
“We try to extract affinity naturally,” Backstrom says, “but if you go to the trouble to tell us more about your relationships, we will factor that in.”
Post Types The News Feed algorithm takes into account the type of posts that each user tends to like. Users that often interact with photo posts are more likely to see more photo posts in the News Feed, and users that tend to click more on links will see more posts with links.
Backstrom says this is also applied on a deeper level. “It’s not just about global interactions. We also look at what types of posts you interact with the most from each friend.”
In other words, Facebook Page owners that continually publish one type of post are likely not having those posts seen by fans that interact with other types of posts.
Hide Post / Spam Reporting News Feed visibility can also be impacted by users’ ability to hide posts or mark them as spam. But it’s not as simple as having a set threshold that will cause posts to stop showing in users’ News Feeds.
“For every story, we do the same computation,” Backstrom explains. “Given this story, and given the user’s history, what’s the probability that you’ll like this story? What’s the probably that you’ll hide it? We’re looking at this and trying to decide, is it a net positive to show this story in the News Feed?”
Further, Backstrom says there’s an element of decay when considering posts that have been hidden. Recent “hides” may carry more weight when deciding if a post shows in the News Feed, but those “hides” will have less impact as they decay over time.
Clicking On Ads, Viewing Other Timelines The News Feed algorithm is completely separate from the algorithm that decides what ads to show, when to show ads, and where to show them. But how a user interacts with Facebook ads can influence what shows in the News Feed.
“Nothing is off the table when we’re looking at what we should show users,” Backstrom says. “It can be clicking on ads or looking at other timelines. It doesn’t have to be just what the user interacts with in the News Feed.”
Device & Technical Considerations Yep, the News Feed algorithm even considers what device is being used and things like the speed of a user’s internet connection when deciding what to show.
“The technical limitations of some old feature phones make it impossible to show some content,” Backstrom. “We also know that some content doesn’t perform as well with Facebook users on certain devices. And if the user has a slow internet connection, we may show more text updates. We’re trying to show users content that they’ll find interesting and want to interact with.”
Story Bumping & Last Actor
Don’t forget these two changes that Facebook just announced last week. Story Bumping bends the “decay” rules by giving older, unseen posts a second chance at News Feed visibility if they’re still getting interaction.
Last Actor puts a premium on recency. Facebook is tracking a user’s most recent 50 interactions and giving them more weight when deciding what to show in the News Feed. This works on a rolling basis, so the value of an interaction will decline after the user has made 50 more recent interactions.
It should be clear that Facebook’s News Feed algorithm has developed significantly over the past few years. EdgeRank is a thing of the past, and it’s been replaced by a machine learning-based algorithm that, as Backstrom says, “only ever gets more complicated.”
That poses new challenges for brands and marketers hoping to get attention on Facebook, but the company says its advice to Page owners and others is the same: Create and publish and a variety of interesting content that will attract shares, comments, likes and clicks. That requires understanding your Facebook fans — from the types of posts they interact with to the different devices they might be using when they’re on Facebook.
I really enjoyed reading Piers predictions of trends int he Boutique market. Most fascinating was the change in room service! - Wilna
Top ten boutique hotel future trends for 2014
Boutique Hotel News' Piers Brown gives his forecast of what the boutique hotel sector can expect to see during the coming year.
Hotel frontages will become more competitive places for advertising brands. It's not about an increased number parading affiliation plaques, or a multitude of front door or window stickers displaying the latest hotel recommendation or award for a variety of accolades - they're all too numerous, less noticeable and becoming distracting in nature. The majority are non-revenue generating for the hotelier welcoming the pre-booked guest. Even worse, many promote the very OTAs that take heavy booking commissions - why? That's a discussion for another time but we think there will be an increased focus on incremental direct revenue generation from appropriate third-party advertisers who value the space and a captive hotel guest demographic more. Expect to see more engaging hotel front window 'theatre' and digital brand advertising with heightened social media interaction popping up, particularly in high-value advertiser urban locations. Let's not forget, Selfridges, Oxford Street, London's prime retail store windows are amongst the most expensive in the world for brands to secure - tempted?
OTAs get closer to the hotel guest
These online travel agent technology companies are becoming a huge threat to direct hotel bookings, achieving expanding market share with heavy investment and increased customer (guest) loyalty based on price attractiveness. Price will remain a dominating factor. Expect to see OTAs collaborating more and purchasing 'high-touch' service travel agents or similar, as they look to get closer to guests in other ways, based on making the complete travel experience easier - keep an eye out for a splurge of complementing free mobile apps developed by OTAs too.
Hostels create the 'pos(h)tel' experience
The luxury hostel category grows boutique and individual, taking form and design inspiration from the likes of 'boutique chic' Citizen M and Marriott's Moxy hotel brands. Upscale hostels are now a booming business with many urban locations offering flexible lodging pricepoints, safe and friendly accommodation and great value food and beverage options.They're gunning for Generation Y business all day long as increasingly sophisticated young travellers on a budget migrate for the homier comforts of a posh hostel. It won't be long before established hotel groups scoop up the major players in the sector in an effort to understand and retain this future hotel guest.
Mobile no more
The 'year of mobile' has come and gone as smartphone manufacturers show signs that mobile is no longer an emerging technology or media platform with flat revenues and declining average selling price for devices. Despite mobile accounting for 20 per cent of all travel sales, hoteliers battle to convert mobile users who are currently three times less likely to book a hotel room than those using a PC. Hotel marketers who proclaim themselves innovative and disruptive will already be looking elsewhere in the technological sphere for the next big thing.
Cutting-edge hoteliers focus on 'wearable tech', with Google already pushing, albeit slightly odd looking,Google Glass to the market. Applications are numerous and hotel marketing innovators envisage what's possible and wonder how and when these technologies will be adopted by business and the average consumer. We're likely to see front of house staff wearing Google glasses for guest facial recognition as early as the first quarter of 2014. Suffice to say hotel websites will place more focus on remote engagement to reflect "what's happening in the hotel right now" with real time applications.
Hotel reviews come clean
Cleanliness is always a top priority for guests, and boutique hoteliers have an obligation to provide their guests with a safe and secure environment. Housekeeping practices vary across brands and properties with little or no standardization industry wide. The current validation method for hotel room cleanliness is a visual assessment, which has been shown to be ineffective in measuring levels of sanitation. Expect more regular and thorough contamination checks by hotel owners with adenosine triphosphate (ATP) measuring devices for instance, that determines microbial contamination on surfaces, and ultraviolet light pens for detecting stains invisible to the naked eye. Don't be surprised to see fanatical hotel reviewers carrying this handy tool!
Luxury leaves the middle-class developed world behind
For the luxury traveller who can still afford the high-end, things are going great.
However, technology and the free flow of information continue to remove middle-class jobs, and those that remain do not pay what they once did. The cost of being middle class has increased out of proportion to the cost of merely living. This has ramifications from a boutique hotel guest booking, spend and hotel management wage perspective. Any middle class is essentially an urban phenomenon. In days past, when a town and its hotel industry fell into decline, its middle class disappeared. But as a new town rose in tandem with hotel development, a new middle class would spring up as if by magic. And that's what is happening now. A new middle class is appearing in Russia, India, China and the Middle East, and it's perhaps no surprise future projected hotel new builds in these areas tower over everywhere else.
The rise and fall of room service creates a new dining experience
Hilton Midtown New York's recent removal of room service sent shockwaves through the hotel industry. If management provide a service which is only marginally valued by the guest at best, then there is a strong motivation to end such a practice, and offer a simple, yet more streamlined approach to guest services. The elimination of room service also eliminates exorbitant service charges and guest complaints about cold food that's supposed to be hot, exorbitantly priced items and late deliveries. Ask yourself, whether removing room service and a food and beverage offering takes the experience out of your boutique hotel stay, or does it just make things a bit more streamlined, cut accommodation expenses and ensure a more "experiential" trip. For example, the recently opened Nadler boutique hotel in Soho, London encourages lodgers to dine in the local area because the offering is so good, liberating guests from the limitations of room service and restaurant fare. A grab and go breakfast offering like from the Aloft select-service brand with rooms designed with an empty fridge (no mini bar) for guests to use is the closest 'halfway house' option we've seen, catering to the ever more individually empowered guest who value their freedom and "no strings" approach. Denihan Hospitality's Affinia Hotels, a small luxury-boutique chain, has taken this approach one step further linking with the online grocer FreshDirect to provide specially packed meals for guests including healthy options. Through this partnership, Affinia Hotels can have guests' rooms fully stocked upon arrival, so that they feel like they're at home during their visit - hotel grocery delivery is not just for select-service, extended-stay or family resorts anymore.
There is nothing more personal than food. Consumers today have an amazing personal connection with what they put into their bodies. Dining has become a comprehensive and interactive experience with diners becoming more knowledgeable about their food choice, peppering the waiting staff and chef with questions about sustainability, responsible husbandry, and local chef-prepared ingredients top dining trends. As a result, boutique hotels will focus on the trend of fresh, local and in season, displaying the percentage of locally sourced food or similar on the menu. Current buzzwords include 'farm to fork' and the SLOW philosophy ( seasonal, local, organic and wild), 'snackification' and 'small-plate movement' - the trend of communal and informal eating. The lure of small portions that encourage diners to purchase additional dishes, therefore increasing revenue. Variations include a healthy eating / low calorie total meal approach. While product is everything, don't underestimate organisational innovation with hotels increasingly taking their food offering to the street. The "Taste by Four Seasons"food trucks for example.
More luxury retailers move into hospitality
With Millennials defining themselves more by what they do than what they own, luxury brands continue to dare to remain relevant with consumers whose appetite for luxury and definition of luxury is constantly changing. Luxury retailers are already expanding beyond fashion and accessories as they aim to keep their customers interested with a 360 degree experience, based on what they are buying, what they are eating, where they are staying and who they are listening to. Boutique hotel guests are looking for information not only from their family and friends, but also from brand experts - balancing professional and shareable opinions with personal advice.
Click here to read from Piers.
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