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Flattening World Impacts Hoteliers

The July meeting in Minneapolis of the Hospitality Industry Technology Exposition and Conference focused its attention on using technology to add value to the guest experience and increasing revenue while cutting costs for owners.

A wider view, less obvious but equally vital, was the acknowledgment of two global trends and forces of change:

  • The rise of China and the opening of India

  • The �flattening� of the world through the Internet and increased globalization

Two recent books underscore the message. Tom Friedman�s The World Is Flat is a publication which deals with the rise of China and the opening of India, as well as the implications for America of ever-expanding globalization.

The other, authored by Clyde Prestowitz, is Three Billion New Capitalists: The Great Shift of Wealth and Power To The East. The bottomline message of his book is anything that can be done digitally can be done anywhere. And, he points out that medical tourism is booming, because a plane ticket to Bangalore and most surgical procedures cost a fraction of what they do in the United States.

John Burns, President of Hospitality Technology Consulting, says the world will continue to be flattened by new generations of travelers. �Gen-X�ers and Millennials are making the boutique brands like Kimpton and Starwood�s W very successful.

�Among the Millennials,� Burns continued, �everyone carries a cell phone, but they rarely make phone calls. They use it for text messaging and they are communicating with a different circle of friends than we have. In many cases, these are people they have never met, people who are far, far away.�

The implication is that these future hotel guests will be the next generation of video conferencers; they do not need face-to-face meetings. This will be a massive challenge for the hotel industry and providers of traditional meeting services. Look for fewer and fewer business travelers and more leisure guests as the world continues to flatten.