How to strategize in uncertain times

How to strategize in uncertain times

In a year when the economic outlook is uncertain to say the least, building on strengths and implementing strategies has never mattered more. Bastien Blanc, CEO and board member at TroKadero Hospitality Global, has advice on how to read mixed economic messages and emerge stronger on the other side.

The business outlook both globally and for Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) is a difficult one to read, marked by mixed, even conflicting messages. On the one hand, we’re greeted by pockets of sunshine hinting at an economically resilient tourism industry and green shoots of growth. And yet, storm clouds linger, casting long shadows of uncertainty and signaling potential headwinds.

Analyzing this complex good-news-bad-news scenario will help hotels operating in the EMEA region to navigate 2024’s choppy waters and also emerge on the other side in a position of strength.

The good news: a glimmer of hope

There are several small, but positive signs across the economic landscape, led by the following:

Resilient consumer spending – despite inflationary pressures, consumer spending in the EMEA has remained surprisingly resilient. Ongoing travel has sustained spectacular occupancies level in many markets.

Emerging market growth – emerging markets, with their younger demographics and growing middle class, present lucrative opportunities for expansion. Over 300,000 rooms are coming on-stream in Saudi Arabia alone, for example.

The green revolution – Europe’s ambitious green agenda, coupled with growing consumer demand for eco-friendly products, is opening up new markets and attracting investment in renewables and green technologies in hotel developments.

Digital transformation – from e-services to the adoption of cloud computing and AI supporting productivity, digital transformation is improving operational efficiency and driving innovation across industries, including hospitality.

The bad news: the looming shadows

Unfortunately, the grey clouds continue to hover and cast shadows. High on this list are:

Inflationary pressures – rising energy costs and supply chain disruptions are pushing up prices, squeezing business margins and impacting purchasing power. Central banks, meanwhile, are expected to continue raising interest rates to help tame inflation.

Geopolitical tensions – the war in Ukraine and its ripple effects on global energy and food security have introduced uncertainty. Rising geopolitical tensions worldwide pose further risks to supply chains and business confidence.

Labor market challenges – while unem-ployment remains low in some parts of the EMEA region, skilled labor shortages are sparking bottlenecks for many hotels.

Climate change – the increasing frequency and intensity of extreme weather events poses new risks for hospitality businesses, highlighting the need for operators to adapt and build resilience.

Strengths and strategies

Despite the headwinds, the EMEA region continues to offer significant potential as home to many of the world’s key destinations and feeder markets. Its strong infrastructure, skilled workforce and diverse economies offer fertile ground for business growth. However, navigating this complex landscape requires both agility and strategic foresight.

Target areas for businesses should include:

Embracing resilience – build flexible business models that can adapt to changing economic conditions and market disruptions, such as investing in niche hotel products.

Investing in innovation – focus on developing new products, services and business models that address emerging market needs and capitalize on technological advancements.

Skilling and upskilling – invest in training and development to ensure your team has the skills and knowledge to thrive in the digital age.

Sustainability from the get-go – integrate sustainability into your core business strategy and operations to reduce environmental impact long term and appeal to eco-conscious consumers. This is a must!

Geopolitical awareness – stay informed about geopolitical developments and their potential impact on your business operations and supply chains, enabling you to adapt and be ready with your plan B.

Bastien Blanc, CEO and board member at TroKadero Hospitality Global

Bastien Blanc,
hotelier and co-founder of TroKadero Management

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