World Panel
Viewpoint 4 December 2019

How will you weather the next economic downturn?

2020 C-SUITE World Panel

— 12 C-Suite executives shared their view

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This viewpoint was created by
Demian Hodari, Associate Professor of Strategic Management at the Ecole Hôtelière Lausanne (EHL)
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Marloes Knippenberg
CEO of Kerten Hospitality

There's no one-size-fits-all approach in an industry that isn't cyclical and is heavily impacted by other sectors – be it aviation, banking & finance, construction or retail. Reflecting on the last ten years, it seems the economic slowdown changed the way we collectively address challenges and taught us to turn them into opportunities. 

Agile, flexible business/operations models have become pivotal in battling a slowdown. For example, the shift towards personalised experiences with unique tourist journeys, instant delivery of services and ease of doing things. But tomorrow could be entirely different so we need to keep an eye on the future and stay one step ahead because behaviors and preferences change and they change fast. The bigger a hotel chain is, the harder it is to be agile and innovate with evolving services and loyalty offerings. 

Looking ahead, a key differentiator will be how hotels unite communities and satisfy today's travelers' needs with 360-degree lifestyle experiences and a combination of brands and value propositions. Diversity is key; if one outlet feels a downturn, capacity building shifts things around i.e. creating a shop within a shop or retail-meets-community events on the ground floor of a hotel. 

In tumultuous economic times, the focus will need to shift from luxury add-ons to simplicity across individualised properties and spaces that create more appealing options for guests, long and short-term residents and this is where the industry should focus its growth. 

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