New to hertelier this year, “Male Ally of the Month,” a column that focuses on the men going out of their way to support women in the hospitality industry. While we all know they don’t have to help, these guys want to help, and this new column takes the time to find out how and why they are determined to help us reach gender equality.
A passionate traveler and champion for making travel more accessible for all, meet Mr July: Scott Mayerowitz, the founder of GlobeTrotScott Strategies. A skilled storyteller, editor and award-winning reporter, Scott helps companies build and strengthen relationships with travelers through robust loyalty programs, customer experience enhancements and savvy media strategies, drawing on his two decades of experience in the travel, business, and media industries.
During his tenure as executive editor of The Points Guy, Scott commissioned me to write stories putting the spotlight on female leaders in the hotel business. You can read them: 8 Women Influencing Luxury Travel Tell Us What's Hot for 2023 and 14 Points Hotels Around the World Where Women are In Charge. A true ally to women and advocate for inclusivity in travel, we chat with Scott to learn more about what's next for travel plus he shares some road warrior tips!
Scott, you're one of the most respected travel journalists in the U.S., having worked at ABC News, The Associated Press and most recently as executive editor of The Points Guy. While there, one of your biggest achievements was to broaden the diversity of voices in travel. Why did you feel this was important?
Travel has an amazing power to enlighten and educate each of us. There’s no one right way to travel and it should be accessible to all. That journey starts with the stories that are told. The more diverse the pool of writers is, the more likely we are to turn a wider group of people into the next generation of travelers. That diversity needs to include people of all races, socioeconomic backgrounds, genders and sexual orientations, levels of mobility, diet and geography. No publication is ever going to get it perfect, but having that goal front and center can at least push you to serve a wider audience.
How do you see the landscape of hospitality journalism evolving in terms of gender representation and inclusivity?
Simply put: it’s mixed. Traditional journalism is struggling. Newspapers and TV stations have some of the tightest budgets in their history. That often means no on-site hotel visits and hiring fewer reporters and editors, cutting recruiting expenses and even eliminating internships. That last bit is extremely frustrating since that’s how you often attract underrepresented groups. The programs that do remain, are typically unpaid, which in itself limits who can apply. On the flip side, the rise of blogging and social media influencers has given a host of new voices a platform to be heard and taken seriously. Some of the travelers that I follow include a female pilot, Morgan @almostcaptainmorgan) and a man in a wheelchair, Cory (@curbfreecorylee). Both give me - directly - perspectives in travel that might not have been widely heard even a decade ago.
We've seen stats that women are responsible for 80% of the travel buying decisions in the U.S. and make up 65% of travelers post-pandemic, have you noticed a shift in how hotels are marketing their services?
The smart ones are waking up, but unfortunately not enough of them have yet. Too many hotel ads still feature skimpily-clad women as eye candy for men - ads that remind me of airline marketing from the 1960s. But like you noted: yes, women make the majority of travel decisions and it’s time for the industry to catch up. To start with: hotels need to offer guests more details about rooms, bed configurations and amenities. This isn’t female specific but just shows how hard it is to find out the key details you need to make a booking decision. As a father, I give Hilton lots of credit for guaranteeing connecting rooms at the time of making a reservation. More people in the hospitality industry need to look at how they do their marketing and that starts with who you hire and getting a better understanding and what your guests want.
As a father, I give Hilton lots of credit for guaranteeing connecting rooms at the time of making a reservation.
Look into your crystal ball, what trends do you see coming next for the hotel industry?
Technology will continue to advance as the primary way guests interact with hotel staff - especially in the limited service segment. You already see this with digital room keys, mobile checkout and food and beverage orders. But the real change will happen in how properties are designed and built. Earlier this year, I stayed at a Marriott where the bed lowered from the ceiling and rested on top of the couch. It was a great space saving move that made the room seem hipper than it really was. As developers seek to lower costs and all of us rethink our carbon footprints, the traditional design of boxy hotels is going to need to evolve. Artificial Intelligence will impact every industry and is already being used to reduce waste at the breakfast buffet. Revenue management, staff scheduling and housekeeping deployments will all benefit. But AI can never replace the human touch that makes truly great hotels stand out from the pack.
You’ve recently left The Points Guy to start your own customer experience and communications consultancy for travel, congrats! Tell us more about what advisory services you are offering.
It starts with the simple premise that there’s too much friction in travel. The hospitality industry needs to be smarter about the product it is offering, how it serves different types of travelers and how each brand interacts with other parts of the travel industry. When a guest arrives at your front desk, they might have dealt with flight delays or horrible traffic. How they are treated can turn that day around or add to their aggravation. I’m looking to help travel providers fix the little things that often make or break a trip. I also consult on loyalty programs and - of course - media strategy and communications.
In your various roles as a travel journalist, you’ve flown millions of miles. Share your top hacks for flying.
Always check-in for your flight 24 hours in advance. This way, if there is any issue with your ticket or boarding pass, you have plenty of time to resolve the problem.
Use a flight tracking app and make sure to also track your inbound aircraft. This way you will know of delays before other passengers and can be first to find an alternative flight.
Noise canceling headphones are worth the investment.
Travel in layers. I’m always surprised at how the temperature of my plane never matches my destination.
For those whose ears don’t pop, get a pair of pressure-releasing earplugs, like EarPlanes. I always travel with a pair, especially during cold and allergy season.
Print out a copy of your flight itinerary, with your reservation number, and put that inside your checked suitcase, on top of everything else. If your bag gets lost and the tags ripped off, this is how the airline will track you down.
You’ve also stayed in countless hotels…what are your biggest pet peeves?
Unnecessary lights. I’m in a hotel to sleep. I hate bright clocks, bathroom nightlights or microwave lights. I know people who travel with gaffers or painters tape to block them.
Resorts that don’t have enough beach chairs. Hotels need to be designed for peak capacity. There’s nothing worse on vacation than having to wake up early to secure a spot by the pool. And while we’re at it: please add more shade. Travelers today do worry about skin cancer. Add more umbrellas and trees for those seeking shelter.
When the air conditioning shuts off in the middle of the night. Motion sensors are great for saving energy when rooms are vacant during the day. But I don’t want to wake up halfway through the night because I’m suddenly sweating.
What is your go to room service order?
I generally avoid room service (except breakfast.) But my go-to order is a chicken club sandwich. It’s consistent, tastes good hot or cold and usually comes quickly.
How do you beat jet lag?
I try to adjust my body an hour a day, starting two or three days before a trip. Then, once on the ground, I stay active. I go on walks my first day, drink plenty of water and eat a series of light snacks.
What are your top sources for keeping up with travel industry news?
I have a wide mix of sources. I still read The New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Washington Post for all my industry and regulatory news. Publications like Travel + Leisure, Condé Nast Traveler and Afar inspire me. Hertelier (of course) and Skift are two of my favorite industry publications. I’m proud of the team I built at The Points Guy and still rely on TPG’s morning email. Finally, I’ve been finding myself following more industry leaders on LinkedIn. The conversation is often promotional but it’s a good discussion to follow.
Thanks for sharing your insights, Scott! For anyone looking to learn more from Scott, please reach him at email@example.com or follow him on social media at @GlobeTrotScott.