Hotels eye health tourism as industry growth takes a plunge

15pc of Swiss hotels turn to health tourism opportunities

Almost 80 per cent of respondents see future Swiss hospitality industry growth as negative, it has emerged in The Deloitte 2015 Swiss Hospitality Study survey conducted from Q4 last year to Q2 in 2015. Only one-quarter of 32 Swiss hotel companies surveyed across Switzerland in the luxury and middle-class segment exceeded revenue and guest number expectations for 2014.

Almost 80 per cent expect negative development in the Swiss hospitality sector over the next two to three years, but see strong growth potential in health tourism.

Measures to further improve competitive positioning include attractive amenities with excellent service, targeted marketing focused on customer retention and a social media presence.

A clear strategy for meeting the desires of Generation Y is lacking.

Switzerland qualifies as one of the world’s most attractive tourist destinations, and has ranked towards the top of the Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Report ranking for many years. The Deloitte study provides indications as to how hoteliers can continue to market Switzerland as an attractive and established holiday destination in the future.

The decrease in overnights from neighbouring countries (-23.5 per cent) was almost identical from 2008 to 2014 to the drop in value of the Swiss franc (-23.3 per cent). Deloitte identified the following key measures for Swiss hospitality to survive in international competition: attractive amenities with excellent service, targeted marketing focused on customer retention and a social media presence. These are areas in which the survey participants wish to continue to improve. “It was clear, however, that most hotels lack a clear strategy for conquering the ever more important Generation Y,” says Stefan Lagana, director in the hospitality industry of Deloitte in Switzerland. Price discounts play a relatively subordinate role, and are generally offered indirectly via packages or special arrangements.

A central trend in Swiss hospitality is rising traveller interest in health tourism, for both medical services and wellness tourism. Karine Szegedi, Partner Consumer Business for Deloitte in Switzerland adds: “Around 15 per cent of the hotel companies surveyed plan to expand their activities in the area of health tourism. They are facing a number of challenges, however, such as the lack of qualified staff and current work and hygiene regulations.”

More than 90 per cent of survey participants view their own hotel website as a central instrument for customer interaction.

Travel agencies are also cited as important multipliers by more than 70 per cent, with their relevance strongly dependent on the country of origin of the client. More than 50 per cent ranked online travel sites as important distribution channels.

Around 80 per cent rate access to debt financing through banks as difficult. Most of the hotels surveyed therefore rely on internal financing, such as from accumulated earnings and depreciation. Private investors play a strong role in the luxury segment in particular, when it comes to rapid, short-term access to financing.

Around two-thirds of survey participants are not able to respond quickly enough to sudden market changes because the state collective labour agreement in the hospitality industry leaves too little flexibility when it comes to wages and salaries. Value added tax is perceived as complex and time-consuming, and the lack of qualified workers is already a challenge today: the great majority of personnel are recruited from nearby countries outside the European Union.