Expectations Make the Vacation, even the exceedingly high ones!

Affluence Home Fashion’s has the honor as serving as an Exhibitor at this year’s International Luxury Hotel Conference in Orlando starting this Sunday, Sept. 27 to Tuesday, Sept. 29.  Check out the below article submitted to the International Luxury Hotel Association magazine entitled “Expectations make the vacation, even the exceedingly high ones” set to publish this upcoming fall!

What makes a vacation memorable? Sure, first time destinations, ‘family first’ trips, and celebratory escape trips all constitute as ‘memorable’ vacations, but what makes that specific vacation stand out.  The answer is expectations.  For example, assume you are visiting a highly ranked restaurant for the first time.  Upon arrival, your expectations are achieved; the atmosphere, music and appearance are all up to par; however, your expectations begin to lessen the moment you sit down.  The wait staff is not as you expected, they are rude, and quick-tongued creating in you a hint of doubt.  No matter the food or company, you will leave feeling your expectations have not been met and subsequently disappointed at the initial intent.  This same concept holds true for a vacation and the quickest way a vacation can be slighted is through lodging.  With travel websites such as Trip Advisor, Yelp and Trivago, the future traveler has expectations upon expectations at their fingertips.   The hospitality industry will have to ensure they are exceeding each and every guest’s expectations for fear of not only that single guests’ disappointment, but any potential guest that exists in the online world.  According to a study by Mintel Group Ltd. based on the 2014 Bureau of Labor and Statistics, good customer service is the number one factor impacting hotel selection, with online reviews and free WiFi coming in at second and third place.  This study also indicated that the most frequent of travelers demand high expectations with a low tolerance for mediocrity meaning they expect to be wowed.  The Millennial generation accounts for almost a third of the U.S. population and are one of the highest segments of the frequent traveler population.  This generation is different from others in that not only do they expect a great vacation, but their expectations of hotel amenities is far more extensive than the average GenX and Baby Boomer traveler.  Because Millennials are accustomed to instant technology, their expected amenities not only include free Wi-Fi, but also docking stations, borrowable chargers, online streaming capabilities, virtual check-in and any other charming delights they deem convenient and entertaining.   Aside from technology, Millennials are also more apt to stay in a hotel that is unique, luxurious and offers some type of ‘different’ atmosphere than just the regular standard hotel room.  For the GenX and Baby Boomer generations options were limited to bed size, while Millennials expect elaborate and creative options such as pillow and mattress varieties, scented high thread count sheets, and soundscape dream machines.  These unique amenities are already starting to become commonplace in the eyes of the Millennials thereby keeping the hospitality industry on its toes to create new expectations.  Millennials are more likely to share their experience and satisfaction if the vacation is deemed a ‘memorable’ one and as noted previously to make that trip memorable, exceedingly high expectations should be the new level at which hotels aspire to reach.  Let’s hope the hotel industry is ready for reinvention because it’s happening with or without their permission. – Elizabeth J. Whitley

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