1) Political unpredictability. There's a crazy train in Washington DC, and it's barreling the hospitality industry toward disaster. Travel bans, laptop bans, challenges to NAFTA, and disruption to long-standing political alliances. None of this bodes well for our industry to remain robust, especially in the U.S.
2) Terrorism and safety threats. Travelers can only stand so much risk before they just cancel and stay home. Every city is only one horrible act away from an immediate market downturn. The more major the threat or act of terrorism, the more global the downturn.
3) Heard of H7N9? According to Time Magazine (http://time.com/magazine/us/4766607/may-15th-2017-vol-189-no-18-u-s/) it's got potential to become the next pandemic. Remember SARS? Zika? Ebola? Each of them devastated a region or an entire continent. Misinformation spreads faster than diseases sometimes, and travel plans get canceled. Conventions get postponed.
4) Several industry publications and experts have predicted that we're at the top of the market and can go no further, or we've started our decline into the next downturn already. Either way, we all know the hospitality industry is cyclical, and the pendulum always swings. There's no doubt we're overdue, and almost every first- and second-tier city is overbuilding hotels (again). This pending oversupply will meet with softening demand, and it'll be 2009 all over again.
5) Buyers across all industries are shifting how they behave, and what they will tolerate during the sales process. Based on my most recent buyer study, I predict that 80% of salespeople will become extinct in the next 10 years, as buyers find new sourcing technologies, and continue to ignore traditional sales methods from salespeople who aren't adapting and evolving.
How can you prepare for the inevitable next downturn? Here are a few tips:
- Uncover the solutions your buyer *really* needs, not what you think they need. In our industry, you may think they need low rates or more concessions, but you're wrong. Those aren't their real motivators - those are just negotiating points. Ask better questions like "What keeps you up at night?" and "What do you wish you had more (or less) of in your job?"
- Start collecting social proof from happy buyers. Get video testimonials and add them to your newsletter, website, email signature block, YouTube channel, and LinkedIn profile. Written testimonials no longer carry much weight.
- Humanize yourself so you become a peer and a trusted friend to your buyers. When the next recession hits, we support our peers, not nameless-faceless salespeople or companies. Grow your army of ambassadors who will happily refer you to their friends. Do this by serving them, not just selling to them.
What are you doing to ensure you not only survive the next downturn, but thrive?