Interview Prep: 4 Current Issues Facing The Hospitality Industry

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Staying current with hospitality trends can be hard once you leave school.

The resources you had back then – your textbooks, professors and guest speakers – may be long gone, but possible employers still expect you to be up-to-date on what’s happening in the industry. After all, one of the best ways to stand out during an interview is to show you not only know the new developments, but also understand the context in which the hospitality industry conducts itself today.

To help you get up to speed, here are 4 key hospitality trends every job seeker should know!

From lobby to living room

Today’s guests are much more willing to sacrifice square footage in their hotel room in exchange for a livelier lobby experience. In order to accommodate this, hotels are starting to transition away from their traditional layout. Formally spacious guest rooms are being streamlined to make additional room for co-working spaces, communal lounges, and public-access amenities. The key drivers in this trend are world travellers seeking an engaging and interactive “local” experience, and business travellers looking for places to get work done effectively while out-of-office.

Even if expensive renovations are out of the question, hotels can still follow this trend by enhancing the public spaces that already exist. For example, lobby furniture can be re-arranged into living room configurations, desks and tables can be added where outlets already exist, and guests can be enticed out of their rooms and into the lobby with regular evening programming.

Discuss this trend in your interview

When the interview panel asks you what possible new business ventures you’d implement once hired, you can confidently suggest a bar cart and happy hour programming for the hotel lobby.

Sharing is caring

Hotels face stiff competition these days, not only from fellow brands and chains, but also from the growth of the sharing economy. Companies like Airbnb take over more of the accommodations market each year so hotels looking to hold on to their share must look for ways to capitalize on this trend.

At the heart of the sharing economy is the ability to “live like a local.” World travellers want to fully immerse themselves in a destination’s customs and culture. Some hotels are finding success by emphasizing local ingredients and dishes on their restaurant menus, and by showcasing local festivals and activities to guests.

Another key feature of the sharing economy is the guest’s ability to share their experiences with others through social media. Savvy hotel brands are improving their guests’ access to online peer reviews, and are building strong guest relations through online engagement strategies.

Discuss this trend in your interview

When asked what critical business skills you bring to the table, make sure to highlight your familiarity with social media and what you would do to enhance the online guest experience.

Startup Stock Photos
Startup Stock Photos

Consistency is (not) key

For hotels to enhance their competitive advantage, it’s becoming increasingly important to focus on the individual experience rather than aiming for same, same, and more of the same.

Hotels are now offering personalised services, such as enhanced guest folios (also known as guest profiles) that tell front desk agents about past visits, preferences, and even social media interactions. There has also been a shift away from packages to “a la carte” offerings (also known as pay-as-you-go), allowing hotel guests to truly customize their experience.

Madison Riddolls, a Westin Experience Specialist at the Westin Harbour Castle in Toronto, Ontario recommends new grads in the hospitality industry let “their creativity to run wild” when attending to guests’ needs. Memorable experiences should be fun and unique, so new grads must be able to think on their feet.

Discuss this trend in your interview

To answer the question, “Tell me about a time you went above and beyond for a customer/guest,” think of a situation where you not only when the extra mile, but were also extra creative when helping a client.

“Token” technology vs. true integration

Plenty of hotels are competing against one another in the race to total tech takeover, perhaps in the hopes that the novelty factor attracts new guests. From the relatively tame (in-room tablets and touch screen lobby kiosks) to the over-the-top (robot butlers and facial recognition software), most hotels today offer tech-y perks in the hopes of persuading guests to continue spending their time and money with them.

While advances in the front-of-house technology have certainly benefited the guest, successful hotel brands are aiming to focus on the end-to-end guest experience. In the future, technological advances in hotels will most likely be aimed at reducing costs (like thermostats that adjust room temperatures while guests are away) or improving accessibility (like room access via mobile apps).

Discuss this trend in your interview

Show your deep business understanding by forgoing the obvious tech toy examples in favour of lesser known back-of-house technological advancements. Explain how these methods can enhance the guest experience too.

Keeping up to date with industry trends can be hard once you leave school, but well worth the effort. Fortunately, these four trends should get you (quickly) up to speed in the hotel industry in time for your next interview or networking conversation!

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