Two thousand and four was another hard year for travel and tourism. No, I am not talking about profits or the industry as a whole. The hotel industry saw strong growth in profits, occupancy and RevPAR for most industry segments. Rather, in 2004 the issue of disaster and recovery reared its head again, and again.
Disasters, like the hurricanes that ravaged Florida and the Caribbean and the Tsunami that spread havoc across South-East Asia, have a peculiarly local effect. While some areas and hotels were damaged or destroyed, others at a safe distance were entirely untouched.
The Tsunami in particular carries many lessons for the hospitality industry. No one can forget the tremendous heroism of the Tsunami's victims. The stories of individual acts of kindness and strength continued to emerge, days and weeks following the wave's sudden impact. These are stories that will remain etched in our hearts for years to come.
With more than 200,000 now counted among the dead and millions more injured, displaced and orphaned, the need for aid has been equally urgent. The foodservice and hospitality industries should feel proud of the response to the distant disaster. Millions of dollars have been raised, coming from countless individuals as well as leading companies.
Another enduring lesson of these disasters is the importance of having a well designed disaster recovery plan. The future prospects of many of the hotel companies affected by the hurricanes and Tsunami will come down to how well they planned for disaster. Disaster may strike anywhere at anytime, whether it is Springfield, Massachusetts, New York City or Kuala Lumpur. The ability to recover from the unthinkable will rely entirely or your ability to plan for it. Thailand, after all had a Tsunami warning system, but for its East coast, not its West coast.
Technology for the hospitality industry is changing and Hospitality Technology magazine is changing with it. A quick look at the headlines shows how quickly our industry is moving (See Front Burner, p. 6). And it's not just the spate of mergers and acquisitions that led us to revamp our approach. The success of industry-led groups like the Open Travel Alliance (OTA) and Hotel Technology Next Generation (HTNG) have made it clear that the barriers around technologies are increasingly under attack. With that spirit in mind, we have moved away from our long-held division of foodservice and lodging stories. In the future, we'll focus less on who is using the system, than on what it does for hospitality operators.
Furthermore, in our many discussions with readers and industry experts, we realized that certain technologies are increasingly dominating the industry and deserve closer attention. HT has identified six different categories of technologies that we will focus on in every issue. Point of Service, On Property, Speed Solutions, Transaction Alert, Intelligent Biz and The Three S's will each focus in-depth on key technologies that are driving the industry.
This new approach will allow us to provide greater depth of coverage to the technologies that matter most. Whether it is an article, a case study, news briefs, or an opinion piece, each issue will focus on these driving technologies.