By Martin Kelly, Editor, Travel Trends
The Baby Boomers are certainly a unique generation. Just ask them. Which other group of people could have brought us – without irony – The Age of Aquarius (peace, love, sex, bad fashion); The Age of Avarice (babies, mortgage, greed, money, rampant materialism) and, now, according to a new report from Amadeus, The Age of Austerity (an era where people cut back on luxuries to pay off the debt they’ve accumulated over the past 20 years). The answer of course is no-one. Those Baby Boomers really are high achievers.
What are the implications for travel in general and the hotel industry in particular? According to the report, which surveyed 354 business travellers and contained no real surprises, luxury properties will suffer while budget hotels (a key topic at No Vacancy) should thrive but, to do so, must offer more than just a cheap bed. “Even in the downturn, for budget hotels to be successful they need to compete on more than just price,” the report says. “Most important of all is Internet connectivity. Good transport links, a quiet room and a central location are also considered essential.”
But having a business centre is not – in any kind of hotel. Just 24% of respondents said the lack of a business centre would stop them staying in a budget hotel. “At higher-end hotels the figure was, interestingly, even smaller, although a further 37% cite them as ‘somewhat important’.” Almost half of those surveyed said their companies will use the economic downturn to extract the best possible rates from hotels, while the research also revealed that business travellers would travel less and increasingly use well-known brands rather than experiment with exotic alternatives.
Risk is so last year. However, sure as the sun rises, times will change. The research showed that executives feel nothing can truly replace meeting a colleague, prospect or situation in the flesh. “All of which augers well for a return to more normal levels of business travel in years to come. Whether corporations will be able to kick their enthusiasm for more modest accommodation, however, is another matter entirely. It just might be that business use of budget hotels will remain part of the mainstream in the way that budget airlines did during the last downturn. Austerity may be here to stay.”
Travel Trends: February 13, 2009