Nakul Anand, Executive Director, ITC Hotels, at the recently-concluded FHRAI Annual Convention, shared his vision on how global trends are ushering in a technological era for travel and hospitality.
Nakul Anand claims that with the rise of digital and mobile consumer usage, the control has completely gone into the hands of the consumers. “We see a flurry of industry changes. Online search engines are exploring advertising models and metasearch companies are moving to assisted bookings. There is a blurring of industry value chains and data is the new oil. The travel industry remains the leader in e-commerce maturity, with high online penetration. It is this twin rise of mobiles and social media that has made all the difference,” he says.
Anand elaborates on the five major global trends that will be influencing the world and every business.
Trend 1: Technology
Smartphone and social media
Anand says, “Interestingly, 79 per cent of people say that if their cell phone were taken away, they would be ready to give up alcohol and chocolates to get it back. Social media is beyond jurisdiction, it’s ownerless. It consumes, punishes, damages and destroys in seconds. Numbers are constantly on the rise- Facebook today has 1.18 billion users; YouTube has 1 billion users; in 60 seconds, 16 million text messages are sent and 156 million emails are sent; 120 new accounts are created on LinkedIn and 342,000 mobile applications are downloaded.”
Emergence of the online culture
Everyone today is a socialite, true privileges are those that are earned on merit. Anand describes this ‘Statusphere’ as a social status that measures your ‘statusfaction’. “Status boosters boost your ‘status skills’. Earlier, only the very rich, and being extremely small in number, would enter this sphere; today, every human being who has access to the internet can be part of it. The more you share, the higher your social status and the higher your satisfaction,” explains Anand. He further adds, “There has been a behavioural shift; a mass meeting and online culture has emerged where individuals share, engage, create and collaborate, contrasting the century-old dimension of me, myself and I. The shift is from ‘me’ to ‘we’. Generation-G endorses generosity as the leading societal and business mindset.”
Reviews- the new advertisement With instant online reviews available for anything and everything, companies are constantly seeking to up their game. “In this world, there are no secrets; there is only transparency of prices, opinions and standards. That is what we call ‘Responsibility Revolution’, where only fair trade can survive. Efficiency is a minimum threshold attribute, waiting for service is unpalatable, and patience is a rare virtue. We are an on-demand society. ‘Nowism’ is fuelled by a cash-rich, time-poor society. Saving time, the new currency, is the greatest luxury. There is a new breed of business travellers that live by the rules they break, connect through disconnect and believe in relationships, not statuses. They work from the couch and not from the desk. They are not indulgent, but when they travel, they are zero-waste travellers,” says Anand.
Trend 2: Sustainability
The information and technology explosion has made human beings realise that we have not inherited the earth from our predecessors but borrowed it from future generations. Anand says, “This is what we call the ‘Curse of excess’. Global consumption levels are five times of what they were 50 years ago. All this comes with a price tag- there has been an 82 per cent increase in carbon dioxide over the last 52 years. It now takes the earth one year and six months to regenerate what we use in a single year. We are indeed living dangerously. The way forward is that we must try and live off the ‘interest’ of the planet’s resources and not take the ‘capital’, the non-renewable resources. Almost one-third of the world’s population agrees that ‘Green’ is not only a cool thing to do but is also the right thing to do.”
Trend 3: Geopolitics
Today, Asia is at the centre of most things. Reiterating this fact, Anand says, “More than 50 per cent of the global traffic will come from the Atlantic. If we go by the origin of traveller, the maximum travel expenditure in Asia Pacific in 2030 will be led by China at $199 billion, followed by India at $91.2 billion.”
Trend 4: Health
There is more and more interest in wanting to be healthy. There is no point in having money if you don’t have good health. Anand feels that health, wealth and looking good are high on the priority list of most people. They are increasingly talking about controlled diets and health farms. People are staying healthy longer and living longer. Wellness tourism, by the end of this year, is expected to grow to more than $675 billion.
Trend 5: Security
We are living in a world that is extremely susceptible to terror attacks. Effective security will not come from barbed wires or more guards and guns, it will come from accepting a new reality that the world order has changed. We ourselves need to ensure that we provide as much security as we can at hotels.