September 22, 2016

The Tourism Industry and the Coming Pull In, Plug In Market

  • Subline: Will charging stations become the new free wi-fi?
Hotels, B&Bs, lodges, and resorts are providing more electric vehicle charging for guests. Hotels, B&Bs, lodges, and resorts are providing more electric vehicle charging for guests.

If you’re in the hospitality industry, chances are good that you’ve encountered guests with electric vehicles - probably a Chevrolet Volt, a Nissan Leaf, or a Tesla Model S. EV owners fit a great guest profile: they’re young, affluent, and they love to drive, which makes them frequent travelers. However, they’re also concerned about options for charging their cars when they hit the road. How should hotels, resorts and travel destinations respond?

EVs Are A Growth Market

The U.S. market share for electric vehicles is tiny - less than 1% of new car sales. But that translates into more than half a million vehicles, which means the United States has the largest fleet of EVs on the road.

And it will get bigger. A lot bigger. Bloomberg New Energy Finance recently predicted that coming advances in battery technology will make EVs cheaper than traditional gasoline-powered cars in most countries by the 2020s - and that assumes that oil prices stay relatively low. In less than 25 years, electric cars will make up more than a third of all auto sales.

By the end of this decade, the number of EVs on the road will double (and possibly triple). A few upcoming models - the Chevy Bolt and Tesla Model 3 have been getting the most buzz lately - could become true mass-market electric cars.

An Opportunity for Lodging to Stand Out

The takeaway: if your property hasn’t encountered many guests with EVs yet, you won’t have to wait long. They’re coming. And during these early years of the technology, the availability of electric car charging can make a big difference in attracting EV owners to your hotel or resort.

Think about wifi: a decade ago, lodging properties used reliable wireless internet (often provided for free) to distinguish themselves from competitors and attract business travelers. Now travelers expect it. Electric vehicle charging is even more essential than wifi for a certain segment of affluent travelers: they often need a way to charge their car overnight in order to travel in the first place. Properties that provide EV charging - especially in isolated areas with very limited infrastructure - have an opportunity to set themselves apart.

To see what lodging providers can do to attract electric car owners without breaking the bank, check our follow-up post

If you’re in the travel and tourism industry and you’re interested in talking more about how EV owners fit into your marketing strategies, drop us a line. We’re big marketing nerds, and we love to talk shop.