Web Exclusive: Global Hotel Alliance CEOs predict travel trends

The CEOs of member companies of the Global Hotel Alliance (GHA) were asked to predict the top travel trends for 2022 through a survey they participated in earlier this year, and they have been right on target as we near the midway point of the year.

The GHA encompasses more than 35 independent hotel brands—including Kempinski, Anantara, Nikki Beach, Outrigger and, most recently, The Set Collection—which participate in the GHA DISCOVERY loyalty program.

“GHA’s success is built on the support of its shareholders and members: the unique expertise of numerous international brands with decades of experience in fine hospitality, strengthened by Oracle, the hotel industry’s leading technology company that provides GHA with the most sophisticated multi-brand platform on the market,” Christopher Hartley, CEO, Global Hotel Alliance, told Hotel Business. “GHA uses a shared technology platform to drive incremental revenue and create cost savings for its member brands. It hosts and manages a loyalty engine, a central customer database and a proprietary Datamart with more than 170 unique fields to capture member behavior, demographics and preferences. GHA also provides a customer-facing loyalty website and mobile app, as well as an employee portal for program management.”

For Hartley, getting the CEOs to participate in the survey was important to the industry following the worst of the pandemic.

“The collective expertise and knowledge of our CEOs provide a barometer of global consumer sentiment,” he said. “Our survey has confirmed that today’s travelers, influenced by the circumstances of the last few years, have changed their travel behavior. The pandemic has accelerated travel trends and generated new ones and, at the same time, transformed the priority of travelers. This has been a key driving force behind the reimagination of GHA DISCOVERY last year, which taps into what travelers and hotel guests now value—a loyalty program that meets their lifestyle needs.”

Among the trends the CEOs predicted that Hartley believes are the most important to the industry are “bleisure” trips, staycations and sustainable travel.

“Drive-to destinations are in strong demand, while extended stays are on the rise, and hotels are responding with attractive packages ranging from day visits for work or play to longer stints for executives and their families,” he said. “Tapping into the staycation trend, the reimagined GHA DISCOVERY program launched Live Local, giving members access to GHA properties in their hometown through Stay Offers for well-deserved breaks; Local Offers for short bursts of enjoyment without a stay, such as access to the beach, gym or pool, or special deals on dining and wellness; plus Experiences, bespoke member-only activities that immerse them in their local culture or community, from tours and classes to events and nature-bound expeditions.”

He added, “It’s also clear that travelers will continue to prioritize responsible travel options this year, with 59% of CEOs surveyed dedicating sales and marketing efforts to promoting hotel sustainability credentials to the planet and community-conscious guests.”

City travel will make a comeback this year, according to a majority of GHA brand CEOs (80%) who anticipate guest numbers at urban properties will return to around 75% of 2019 levels this year.

“According to GHA forward-booking data, the most popular cities for 2022 are Dubai and London, while Rome and Lisbon are rising in prominence again,” Hartley said. “CEOs noted destinations with minimal pandemic-related restrictions were capitalizing on pent-up demand for travel.”

The CEOs also believe that the travelers’ desire for an easy payment process will reach an all-time high. More than 68% of them said they are investing in systems upgrades this year to provide guests with a seamless experience, particularly at point of sale.

Travelers also are looking for simplified rewards programs, so the GHA has created Discovery Dollars (D$) digital rewards currency—with 1 D$ equivalent to $1—enabling members to earn D$ at any GHA DISCOVERY property for use on future stays.

“At checkout, D$ earned on previous stays can be used towards the hotel room, room upgrades, dining, spa treatments or other extras,” said Hartley. “Members can earn D$ from day one, and the percentage earned on eligible spend increases with membership status, starting at 4% and rising to 7%. D$ make purchasing easier and gives members choice and value, addressing and alleviating customer pain points.”