Hospitality industry is constantly evolving and always trying to stay one step ahead. In an industry where change is the ultimate word, keeping up to date on the latest trends in hospitality technology – is a daunting task for hotel owners and operators. Everything from in-room entertainment to guest service management to effective use of social media is becoming a challenging task. The hospitality industry saw a lot of exciting things happening in 2013 and some that would continue to impact business are highlighted below -
Mobile: The Game Changer
Mobile phone has radically changed the world - 62% of the world’s population is using mobile phones. Hospitality is no exception to this revolution, in some cases leading the way. It is the new face of computing as devices such as tablets and smartphones have revolutionized the way we interact with technology. The rise of mobile users have impacted business strategy and changed guest behavior largely. There has been a myth that mobile phone has the minimal impact on hospitality industry but as the smartphones and tablets become critical tools, the myth has been thoroughly laid to rest. Now nearly 45% travellers travel with two or more devices and 7% of bookings are done through mobile phone which is continuously increasing.
With the grand entry of TripAdvisor and Google in the metasearch space the whole hotel distribution scenario has drastically changed. Modern travellers believe in competitive shopping. According a survey by eMarketer - a guest visits minimum six sites before he makes any booking decision. One of our recent infographics on meta-search shows that Kayak processed over 1577 million queries in 2013 and TripAdvisor receives 260 million monthly unique visits to its website. The dominance of meta-search engines will grow rapidly in 2014 as these sites are becoming mainstream in hotel distribution space.
Research studies show that 85% travellers believe Wi-Fi in hotels should be free. Nowadays the only thing that guests would prefer over a complimentary breakfast or free parking is Wi-Fi. Modern travelers are hyper-connected and do not have patience for poor internet connection in hotels. Your hotel should facilitate free Wi-Fi so that business travellers can check their emails and take online conference calls, while leisure travelers can use the internet to communicate with friends and family or enjoy music. Poor internet connection is one of the most common complains and something that you should save your hotel from. So if your hotel provides free Wi-Fi service to guests, make sure that the speed of the internet is not irritating them.
Word Of Mouth
As we increasingly live our lives online, we’re finding that not only are there major downsides to all that social media over-sharing—but we may have little control over the way we appear on the internet. According to a new eMarketer report, the Worldwide Social Network Users in 2013 was 1.73 billion i.e. one in four people were connected through social media. And by 2017, total global social network audience will be 2.55 billion. TripAdvisor is the largest source of hotel reviews having 150 million reviews and opinions covering 3.7 million accommodation providers. Considering there are millions of reviews written each day across a plethora of different platforms, the internet has the power to influence one’s decision making process. So managing reputation be it through social media or replying to the guests directly through reputation management tool will become increasingly important.
Guest service is an inseparable part of the hospitality business. However changing consumer tastes has led to higher expectations and hotels need to live up to these. Travellers today do not want to feel like they are in a corporate setting when they are staying at your hotel – they would rather prefer an environment where they can interact with people and receive personal attention. Eye for detail is an important aspect that hotels need to focus on and ‘wowing’ guests with impeccable service is something that every hotel is striving for. You need to identify what you can do to make your guests’ stay unforgettable to win over their loyalty.
Behavioural Change of GenY
The travel industry is riding a wave of change. An unpredictable economy and fast-paced technological advancements have caused 21st century travellers to shift their behaviour dramatically. These travellers prefer to interact with hotel staff through technology rather than picking up the phone. About 40% of guests at a hotel select iPad as their communication device to connect to a hotel and plan check-in time. So what do guests want? Well, it could be a long list starting with - free Wi-Fi, automated check-in / check-out and multi-use lobbies that encourage guests to socialize among various other things. This new segment of traveler is no longer looking for white-linen service, hotel boy to carry their luggage up to their room rather to check-in online to bypass the front desk.
Home Away From Home
When travellers enter a hotel, they look for a home-like ambience. Hotel companies need to be able to offer high quality guest service alongside seamless communication and comfort to every guest. To achieve this, a hotel needs to have its back-office set in a way such that everything moves to clock-wise precision. And this starts from the time the guest researches your hotel to making the reservation, the actual stay and post stay feedback. Everything needs to be managed efficiently for a well-rounded experience for the guest.