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As Consumer Habits Change, How Can Businesses Keep Up?

consumer

As Consumer Habits Change, How Can Businesses Keep Up?

American consumers don’t act and buy the way they did just a few short months ago – at least most of them don’t.

The pandemic and the need for social distancing led to an upsurge in online buying. Takeout and delivery replaced, at least temporarily, dining out. Many consumers, worried about the health risks of spending time in grocery stores, turned to services that would do their shopping for them.

Now, as the country tries to reopen and seek the next normal, businesses across the nation must figure out which of those consumer behaviors will become permanent, which were temporary, and whether any new ones yet unthought of might emerge.

“We live in a time when information can become outdated pretty quickly, and that’s become even more true because of COVID-19,” says Janét Aizenstros (www.janetaizenstros.com), a serial entrepreneur and the chairwoman and CEO of Ahava Digital, a company that ethically sources data on American consumers.

“The businesses that are going to succeed moving forward are those that grasp what consumers want and understand their changing habits.”

In contrast, those businesses that fail to understand what the latest consumer data is telling them, and are slow to adapt to the changes in consumer behavior, are going to be at risk, Aizenstros says.

She says going forward, businesses need to:

-Be prepared to pivot. Business leaders must be flexible. Many restaurants figured that out when the pandemic began, Aizenstros points out. Patrons could no longer dine-in, so the restaurants put an emphasis on takeout and delivery services. In the same way, each business will need to figure out how it can adapt and adjust its services or products to meet what customers want and need, she says.

-Gather reliable consumer data. With the internet, social media and numerous other sources, there is plenty of information available today about consumers, but not all of it is reliable. Make sure data comes from a quality source and that it reflects as much as possible the current thinking and behavior among consumers, Aizenstros says. “Businesses that fail to use reliable data and stay on top of the consumer trends,” she says, “will have a difficult time thriving as we go forward.”

-Take steps to make consumers feel comfortable. Even as people venture out more to dine in restaurants or shop in person, a Gallup survey shows they still plan to exercise caution. Businesses can help themselves by letting consumers know what steps they are taking to keep their stores, restaurants, and offices as safe as possible. “This is just another example of understanding and keeping up with what consumers want,” Aizenstros says.

Businesses have always had their plans and operations disrupted by both technological advancements and changing consumer habits. But rarely does consumer behavior evolve as quickly as it did in the early months of 2020 – and the changes didn’t always happen in easily predictable ways.

“Some areas such as home decor and fashion have done well recently,” Aizenstros says. “At the same time, we are seeing trends with businesses like J.C. Penney, Hertz and others struggling and filing for bankruptcy. It’s hard to keep up with consumer thinking unless your data is consistent, relevant and accurate. But if you understand what your customers want and work to give it to them, your business will have the opportunity to prosper.”

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Janét Aizenstros (www.janetaizenstros.com) is a serial entrepreneur and the chairwoman and CEO of Ahava Digital, which provides businesses and investors with ethically-sourced verified data about American consumers. Her background includes roles in finance at TD Canada Trust, Canon, and Brookfield LePage Johnson Controls, along with management consulting in a broad range of functions, such as supply chain operations, data analysis, and strategic thinking. She has a doctorate in metaphysical sciences with a specialization in conscious business ethics.

coronavirus

How the Coronavirus Pandemic has Diversified UK Business

As the Coronavirus pandemic has altered our ways of living and working – potentially for good – it has sent shockwaves through areas of UK business previously thought untouchable.

The thriving food and hospitality sector has steadily grown over recent years but faces an uncertain future as social distancing becomes a new norm of everyday life.

Of course, some industries have enjoyed something of a boon during the lockdown as their products, services, and expertise have come to the fore, or been adapted to suit the needs of the population.

How have businesses altered their offering?

Many eateries have kept afloat by switching their sit-down service to take-out or delivery, while robotic delivery of food and drink in Milton Keynes could offer a glimpse into the future of the industry, long after Covid-19’s grip on our daily lives has subsided.

The airline industry has been similarly decimated as planes have been grounded but swapping passengers for cargo has allowed some to maintain business.

Land-based delivery services have thrived, especially those connected to online shopping, like our trips to the high street or retail centers have been curtailed by the lockdown.

This has not come without the need for a change to regular services, however, with health and safety now more paramount, businesses have needed to be agile in swiftly adapting sanitary and sterile methods of delivery especially when dealing with at-risk customers.

Can businesses help in the fight against Coronavirus?

Some of the biggest swings in business have seen entities completely change their line of work in a bid to help fight the virus.

Producing personal protective equipment (PPE), such as masks, gowns, and gloves, has become a priority for many textile companies.

In the bid to build more hospital equipment, Formula 1 teams used their engineering might take on the task. World champion outfit Mercedes produced a ventilator which was used in a trial by the NHS and made the plans freely available for other manufacturers to build their own versions.

As the need for clear public communication has risen, printing business instant print was marked as NHS supply chain critical, producing an adapted product range including posters, signage, floor stickers and more to be used in a host of healthcare settings.

Will UK businesses recover after Coronavirus?

This is a tricky question to answer, as to how our daily lives will look once the pandemic subsides remains a grey area.

As scientific exploration into the virus continues, the threat of a ‘second wave’ of illnesses sweeping the world is set to make the resumption of our previous ways of life something that is implemented slowly, if indeed some things we used to take for granted ever do return to our daily routines.

Work settings may change, infrastructure will likely have to be adapted to suit a more socially distant population. How crowds gathering in shops, restaurants, bars, concerts, sporting events and more will be managed is almost impossible to predict as simply containing the virus still remains the highest priority.

As some countries begin to tentatively emerge from lockdown and try to get to grips with a ‘new normal’, the world will look to the likes of Australia and New Zealand for cues, while China has also looked to restore many of the social liberties that were taken away when the virus began to spread in its Hubei province.

If your business has been impacted by the Coronavirus, perhaps some of the examples above can help guide you through the rocky times or inspire a change of direction that may bring greater success once the pandemic passes.

young workers

YOUNG WORKERS WILL BE THE LONG-TERM CASUALTIES OF COVID-19

They are the ones who will bear the brunt of the coronavirus recession.

A little more than a decade ago, millennial college students graduated into what was then the worst economy in decades. In the United States, the Great Recession wreaked long-term damage on young people, many of whom faced slim job prospects along with mountains of student debt. Compared to earlier generations, these young adults today have less wealth, more debt and are less likely to be financially secure.

Today’s youngest workers could have it even worse. Young workers – who make up a disproportionate share of workers in hospitality, food service, retail and other service industries hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic – are likely to shoulder the worst of the coming recession.

Young workers: first to feel the pain

Young workers have been among the first to feel the pain as the restaurant, retail, and hotel industries reel from the initial impacts of the pandemic. Marriott, for instance, has furloughed tens of thousands of employees. So, too, have Hilton and Hyatt. Many small businesses are forced to close shop or lay off most of their workforce. The National Restaurant Association reports that business dropped by nearly half among its members just in the first half of March.

Labor According to the U.S. Bureau of Statistics, workers between the ages of 20 and 24 account for nearly one-third of restaurant waitstaff, one-fourth of all retail cashiers, and one-fifth of all retail salesclerks. Young workers also occupy a large share of other entry-level service jobs in entertainment and hospitality, such as hotel and motel desk clerks (one-third), ushers and ticket-takers (one-fifth) and baggage handlers (one-sixth).

Young people also make up a disproportionate share of the low-wage workforce hardest hit by the pandemic, period, according to new research from the Brookings Institution. Scholars Martha Ross, Nicole Bateman, and Alec Friedhoff find that workers ages 18 to 24 comprise nearly one in four low-wage workers, with the most common occupations being retail, food service, and lower-level administrative support. Many of these young workers can ill afford any loss of income: Among the 13 percent who lack a college degree, the median hourly wage is just $8.55. Worse yet, one in five of these workers is the sole earner in their family; 14 percent are also caring for children.

NiNis worldwide

A new crop of “not in school, not working”

Even before the current crisis, many young people were already in dire economic circumstances. According to the Social Science Research Council, as many as 4.5 million young adults ages 16 to 24 were not in school nor working in 2017, the latest year for which data are available. No doubt this figure has already skyrocketed.

Unfortunately, unemployment might be only the start of young workers’ worries in the coming months.

The sudden closure of colleges and universities means that multiple cohorts of students are missing out on opportunities to lay the foundations of their future careers. “Job fairs and internships have been called off, as have debating competitions, graduate school admission tests and conferences that are essential opportunities to network and get jobs,” writes The Hechinger Report.

A different economy after COVID

Other hazards also loom in the future job market that could disadvantage younger workers. For instance, the pandemic may also accelerate the push to automation, as researchers Mark Muro, Robert Maxim and Jacob Whiton of the Brookings Institution argue, which would also hit younger workers the hardest. According to their analysis, as many of 49 percent of workers ages 16 to 24 are in jobs vulnerable to automation.

Moreover, the current massive disruptions in higher education and in business likely also mean that skills gaps will worsen as training programs are put on hold and businesses struggle simply to survive. Shortages of qualified workers will not only significantly hamper recovery efforts in the future but handicap current industries’ efforts to retool themselves to a radically changed environment.

Vulnerable young workers

Worldwide impacts for youth workers

The same story is playing out globally. According to the International Labor Organization (ILO), young people are roughly twice as likely to be unemployed compared to adults. After the global recession in 2009, adult employment grew uninterrupted but the number of young people employed contracted by more than 15 percent. In 2018, 21.2 percent of global youth were neither employed nor in education and training.

The COVID-19 pandemic is inducing a global labor shock both because workers cannot carry out their jobs and may have lost their jobs, but also because consumer demand especially in services industries has fallen off and could be slow to return to previous levels. In a vicious cycle, billions in lost labor income will further suppress the consumption of goods and services. At the beginning of April, the ILO estimated global unemployment would rise between 5.3 million and 24.7 million, but with 22 million Americans alone filing for unemployment over the last four weeks, this estimate is already vastly inaccurate. The long-term damage to young workers’ prospects is incalculable.

What next?

Economies around the world are already responding with rescue packages aimed at blunting some of the economic hardship the pandemic is creating. But as the crisis wears on and, with luck, economies can begin to recover, the long-term plight of young workers will need much more attention.

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Anne Kim is a contributing editor to Washington Monthly and the author of Abandoned: America’s Lost Youth and the Crisis of Disconnection, forthcoming in 2020 from the New Press. Her writings on economic opportunity, social policy, and higher education have appeared in numerous national outlets, including the Washington Monthly, the Washington Post, Governing and Atlantic.com, among others. She is a veteran of the think tanks the Progressive Policy Institute and Third Way as well as of Capitol Hill, where she worked for Rep. Jim Cooper (D-TN). Anne has a law degree from Duke University and a bachelor’s in journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia.

This article originally appeared on TradeVistas.org. Republished with permission.

YOTEL Plans Major International Expansion

New York, NY – YOTEL has announced global expansion plans targeting key city centers and international airports in Asia, Europe and North America.

More than 3,000 cabins are scheduled to open by 2018, including YOTEL hotels in Singapore, Paris, Miami, San Francisco and a second property in New York City.

Initially conceived for busy international travelers at airport terminals, YOTEL’s concept proved highly successful in urban centers with the opening in 2011 of the 669-room YOTEL Times Square developed by the Related Companies, one of New York City’s most prolific developers.

Designed around the customer, YOTEL cabins deliver affordable luxury without the clutter through small but smart spaces, providing everything for a guest to relax, refresh, sleep and connect.

Typically located in easily accessible, fast upcoming neighborhoods, YOTEL hotels offer a sense of community as well as space for work and social gatherings, and provide an ever-improving guest experience.

In addition to New York, Miami and San Francisco, YOTEL is in advanced negotiations to operate new properties in Boston, Atlanta, Austin, Chicago, Los Angeles, Seattle and Toronto. Outside North America, the company is actively pursuing opportunities in Europe and Asia Pacific, in particular Dubai, London, Milan, Barcelona, Sydney and Hong Kong.

YOTEL’s next 3 locations to open in the U.S. are in Miami, Brooklyn’s Williamsburg and San Francisco’s Mid-Market neighborhood. New York-based real estate developer Synapse Capital is developing a 100,000 square foot mixed-use project along with 110 YOTEL cabins in the heart of Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

Together with IFA Hotels & Resorts and its partners, Synapse is also transforming the Grant Building at 1095 Market Street in San Francisco into a 200-cabin YOTEL hotel. YOTEL Miami is a 250-cabin hotel being developed by Aria Development Group in partnership with AQARAT (Kuwait Real Estate Company) in the heart of Downtown Miami.

In Europe, YOTEL is developing its fourth airport hotel at Paris Charles de Gaulle airport, which is due to open in mid-2016. The following year, YOTEL will open its first property in Asia with the launch of YOTEL Singapore on ultra-prime Orchard Road.

Developed by Singapore-listed Hong Fok Corporation Limited, YOTEL Singapore will feature 600 state-of-the-art cabins located at the heart of the city-state’s busiest commercial strip and steps away from all major tourist attractions.

12/23/2014

Trans World Acquires Four-Star German Hotel

New York, NY – Casino owner and operator Trans World Corporation has acquired the Hotel Columbus, a modern, four-star 117-room business hotel property, located in the suburb of Seligenstadt, Germany, for $8 million.

Hotel Columbus was acquired for approximately $8 million, inclusive of taxes and closing costs, with approximately $3.3 million of equity from TWC’s available cash and approximately $4.7 million, of local bank financing.

Located near both downtown Frankfurt and Frankfurt international Airport, the Hotel Columbus features five meeting rooms equipped with the latest conference technology, a spacious restaurant and separate breakfast room, each with its own kitchen, two full-service bars, a 32-space parking garage and a 27-space surface parking lot.

Frankfurt, Germany’s fifth largest city, is home to the European Central Bank, Deutsche Bundesbank, Frankfurt Stock Exchange and several other large commercial banks, and ranks amongst the world’s leading financial center.

Trans World Corporation, founded in 1993, is a publicly traded, Nevada corporation, headquartered in the U.S., with all of its gaming and hotel operations in Europe.

11/04/2014

Gansevoort Plans New Hotel in Dominican Republic

New York, New York – The Gansevoort Hotel Group will officially open its doors December 15, 2014 to its latest oceanfront resort – the Gansevoort Playa Imbert – on the Dominican Republic’s north coast.

The new Gansevoort Playa Imbert will feature 48 suites comprised of one and two-bedroom lofts; three-bedroom apartments with private plunge pools and spacious terraces; and a collection of four-bedroom penthouses, each of which offers a private rooftop Jacuzzi.

Floor-to-ceiling windows “seamlessly blend the outdoors with the indoors offering dramatic seascapes from every guestroom, while modern interiors provide understated opulence with standard amenities like state-of-the art kitchens, walk-in showers, custom bathtubs and natural stone finishes,” the company said.

At the resort’s center is a dramatic, 3-tiered cascading infinity pool overlooking Playa Imbert’s crescent-shaped beach. A second, adults-only pool will open spring 2015.

Other planned amenities include a fitness center, a world-class day spa featuring a ‘Hammam-style’ sauna, and a meditation and yoga garden.

Gansevoort Playa Imbert is located just 15 minutes from Puerto Plata Airport and a short drive from renowned surfing, kiteboarding, golf, tennis, horseback riding and more.

Further luxury accommodation will become available in this area of the Dominican Republic’s north coast region when Aman Playa Grande opens in 2015.

10/20/2014

Waldorf Astoria Hotel Sold to Chinese Investors

New York, NY – China’s Anbang Insurance Group Co. has agreed to pay $1.95 billion for New York City’s iconic Waldorf Astoria hotel, the most ever paid for a standing building in the US by a Chinese buyer.

The purchase of the 1,232-room Art Deco tower on Park Avenue is the biggest real estate deal for a single existing hotel in the entire country and marks the high-water mark of a surge in the acquisition of big-ticket New York City properties by Chinese investors.

Earlier this year, Shanghai-based Greenland Holding Group Inc. purchased this year of a 70 percent interest in the Atlantic Yards project in Brooklyn. The project, recently renamed Pacific Park, includes 14 buildings that are yet to be built.

China’s Fosun International Ltd. paid $725 million in late 2013 for lower Manhattan’s 1 Chase Manhattan Plaza, the former headquarters of Chase Manhattan Bank. The building’s main tenant, JPMorgan Chase & Co., has said it will vacate most of its space in the 60-story tower.

Earlier last year, a group including the co-founder of Shanghai’s Soho China Ltd., put $1.4 billion on the table to acquire a 40 percent stake in midtown Manhattan’s General Motors Building, one of New York’s most-valuable office towers.

According to press sources, including Anbang’s purchase of the Waldorf from Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc., Chinese investors will have bought $2.7 billion of New York-area real estate in 2014, topping last year’s $2.6 billion.

Anbang is reportedly planning a major renovation of the Waldorf, which could include the conversion of some of the hotel’s upper floors into high-end condominiums.

10/07/2014

Hyatt Opens New Hotel in Suzhou, China

Suzhou, China – Hyatt Regency Suzhou has announced the opening of its new Hyatt Regency Suzhou Hotel.

Located in the Suzhou Industrial Park (SIP) with a subway station at its doorstep, the new hotel is part of Jinghope Plaza, a new complex project that includes a luxury shopping mall, entertainment venues and two ‘Grade-A’ office buildings.

Hyatt Regency Suzhou is a key connecting point between Suzhou and Shanghai, offering easy accessibility to visiting guests.

The hotel is 25 minutes by train from Shanghai, one hour by car to Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport, and 10 minutes by car to Suzhou SIP Railway Station, the transportation hub of Yangtze River Delta region.

The hotel offers 355 spacious guestrooms and suites plus a Regency Club. In addition, there are five restaurants and lounges, more than 15,000 square feet of meeting, event and wedding venues, spa and wellness facilities, and a 25-meter indoor swimming pool on the third floor with floor-to-ceiling city views.

The 24-hour fitness center offers the latest cardio and strength equipment, which enables guests to share their workout stats via social media.

The hotel was designed by LTW Designworks and features a 29-story triangular atrium topped with a glass roof. The interior design “is inspired by Suzhou’s classic gardens offset by large-scale contemporary artworks and abstract patterns that reference the modern face of Suzhou,” the company said.

09/02/2014

Global Market Advisors Open New Office in Thailand

Las Vegas, NV – Global Market Advisors LLC, the international casino gaming, hospitality and travel industry consultancy, has opened an Asia regional office in the central business district of Bangkok, Thailand.

The new office will support the firm’s clients located in the region in an advisory capacity in areas such as financial feasibility,  marketing strategies, and government relations for companies in the casino gaming, hospitality, airlines, and financial industries.

Global Market Advisors, LLC and its casino gaming industry consulting division, Gaming Market Advisors, has a significant history in advising clients in South Korea, Thailand, Singapore, Japan, Taiwan, Philippines, and eastern Russia.

The firm also has a strong presence in the US servicing a myriad of clients in the casino gaming and hospitality industries from offices in Denver, Colorado, and Las Vegas, Nevada.

08/15/2014

Hard Rock Developing New Hotel Property in Mexico

Orlando, FL – Hard Rock International has begun construction on a new hotel in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, that will feature 600-rooms, six restaurants, multiple pool sites, several spas, and 54,000 square feet of meeting and conference space.

The new hotel is the company’s fourth in Mexico and is slated for completion in 2016.

With a total of 186 venues in 57 countries, including 142 cafes, 20 hotels and 9 casinos, Hard Rock International also owns, operates and franchises Cafes in several cities including London, New York, San Francisco, Sydney, and Dubai.

In addition HRI also owns, licenses and/or manages hotel/casino properties worldwide such as its two most successful Hotel and Casino properties in Tampa and Hollywood, Fl., both owned and operated by HRI parent, The Seminole Tribe of Florida, as well as other locations including Bali, Biloxi, Chicago, Cancun, Ibiza, Las Vegas, Palm Springs, San Diego and Singapore.

Upcoming new Hard Rock Cafe locations include Seoul, Vienna, and Marseille, while new hotel projects include Daytona Beach, Abu Dhabi, and Shenzhen and Haikou in China.

07/28/2014