The undiscovered land

Hospitality is a virtue
that can certainly be called prehistoric.

It was a long way to today's data-driven hotel industry. 

So let's start at the beginning. Right click or swipe.

A prehistoric virtue

Hospitality is already a prehistoric virtue. The Lascaux caves in the south of France are considered the first "hotel" where members of foreign tribes found shelter up to 38,000 years ago.

Trade trips and monasteries

Hotels as we know them today evolved from simple roadside inns or monastery hostels. The basic reason for this is the emergence of trade routes.

Wherever there is trade, there is a need for overnight accommodations for the traders. The history of professional lodging and catering is therefore inseparable from trade journeys (and, for that matter, war campaigns). With the new infrastructure, road and ship connections, come the travelers.

The age of colonies

The imperial trade routes of ancient times are experiencing a renaissance as a result of the Crusades. The West's hunger for the trade goods of the East grows.

The discovery of the New World in the West ushers in the colonial age. But economic globalization only serves the privileged. For a long time to come, travel remains a privilege of the rich (and the extremely adventurous).

The first hotel

It was not until the Age of Enlightenment, in 1774, that the first hotel to give itself this name opened: The "Grand Hotel" in London. Travel remains the preserve of well-heeled merchants and the wealthy classes.

The era of the legendary luxury hotels dawns: Here, every wish is read from the lips of the wealthy guests. And some of these traditional hotels still exist today.

New mobility

Even in the age of industrialization, in the 19th century, hotel stays remain the preserve of the social upper class for a long time, but the world begins to get smaller.

Inventions such as the railroad gradually change the situation. A steadily growing number of people want or need to be mobile. A new type of hotel is catering to the "new travelers". And constantly new offers are heating up the competition.

The right to leave

The 20th century brought this development to a climax. Social legislation in Europe gives employees the right to vacation in the first place.

The increasing need for overnight accommodations leads to specialization in the hotel industry. Luxury and pomp give way to pragmatic solutions.

Motels and business hotels emerge. Functionality and the smaller purse of a new clientele determine the picture.

Mass tourism

Mass tourism, as we experience it today, only emerges after the oil crisis in the 1970s. Travel costs drop dramatically.

More and more travelers cover greater distances - frequent flyers with more multifaceted needs.

Hotel chains and franchises

The hotel industry is experiencing functional segmentation. Hotels are specializing in their respective clientele groups. And the new ranges of guests are making the once manageable hotel business extremely complex.

Individual hoteliers are suddenly faced with hotel chains and franchises. The competition is not only becoming much tougher, it is also increasingly shifting to global distribution channels.

Online booking and OTAs

The 90s bring the Internet. This means that global competition in the hotel industry is now a fact of everyday life.

OTAs are vigorously turning the market upside down, partly because many hotels are giving up too much control over their own prices due to a lack of digital expertise.

The ever-increasing competition makes it more and more important to use global data to one's own advantage in order to still be profitable at all.

Mobile Internet

The 21st century brings a time of even greater acceleration. The Internet has long since gone mobile, and ever new gadgets are putting it on our skin, in front of our eyes, and in our ears.

No hotel can escape the influence of OTAs, of reviews and price comparisons on the Internet.

For hotels, that means:

Growing competition, but less visibility and shrinking margins.

Processing reliable, global information is becoming essential for success. The sheer volume of data cannot be managed alone. Hotels have to show an expertise in analyzing data – which naturally is beyond their core competencies. It wasn't just the Corona pandemic that brought the importance of running a hotel "smart" to all of our attention. Now, more than ever, it's important to turn the tables: not to let technology define people. Instead, empower hotels to use technology in their best interest.

There's more to come

Order the new GRANT Magazine

as a PDF or print version, directly into your digital or analog mailbox!