Come December and every industry eagerly awaits predicted trends for the coming year;
The hospitality industry is no different and has its own set of trends, those that will significantly influence the industry in the year to come, and those that hoteliers need to watch out for.
As a hospitality technology company, at IDS Next, we conferred with our business heads in Africa, Middle East, Asia, Asia Pacific and South East Asia, tapped into their exposure and observations and so, here we are, with our very own set of top trends for the hospitality industry in 2015!
As hoteliers, you may have heard of some of these before, but now, they are well underway to being fast flowing, furious trends that are shaping the hospitality industry and your hotel should promptly adopt these technological changes or may run into the risk being left behind.
But before we head to the top technology trends, let’s dwell on the guest segment that is gaining prominence. In 2015, watch out for the Millennials and the Baby Boomers. The Millennials range from those born between the early 1980s to the early 2000s. They could be in their late teens or married with kids. Millennials are wired for technology and love to travel. So here we come hotelier, gadgets and all.
The Baby Boomers are another big population segment, though exact numbers are hard to locate, this segment is aged between 45 and 65 years. Born after the Second World War, research shows they are more affluent than other age groups, have more free time and enjoy using that free time to travel. Your hotel needs to be equipped to meet the needs of this older generation as well.
With growing segments of local population preparing for travel especially in emerging economies like India and China, hoteliers need to stop hankering behind international tourist and begin attracting the travelling population within.
In case you have not realized it yet, technology is ‘in’, and your guests are driving its use. When on holiday, your guests not only want the technology they have at home like great broadband speeds, wi-fi internet and in-room entertainment - to name a few, but a lot more. So stuff like smart cool mobile apps and devices on which they can interact with you or access information are just the thing they would like to talk about even after they have left your luxurious hotel.
1. Social Media is your new marketing channel
With social media, hotels now live in a glass house. Research indicates that in 2014, world-wide over 50 percent of those surveyed purchased a product based on an online recommendation. 65 percent of consumers surveyed frequently visit a website as a result of an online recommendation. This has led to burgeoning online hotel room booking.
So, smart hotels wishing to grow their room occupancy need to strategically leverage social media through every conceivable channel, be it Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Videos and Blogs.
This enables hoteliers to brand their hotel strongly, connect with potential guests and engage them continuously. It also enables hotels to learn what is being said about them, respond judiciously to rectify negative guest feedback.
2. Mobile is going to be your key differentiator
According to the 2014 Expedia Mobile Index, mobile devices are the be-all for travelers. The device acts as a ‘part organizer, part concierge, and in some ways, part companion’ as well.
According to this study, 76% of travelers said their smartphones are “very important/critical”, 35% of the world’s travelers said they used their smartphones more when they travel than they do at home. 78% of business travelers have used their smartphone in a travel planning capacity.
As consumer facing technology continues to grow in importance, what better way to wow your potential customers than with mobile apps like check-in, e-menu and others. These apps hold a number of hidden benefits - from enabling hoteliers to give customers a fantastic stay experience to intelligently up-selling and branding.
One mobile app that made big waves in 2014 is last-minute hotel room booking. With travel becoming the source of new adventure and impulse travelling offering that much searched for adrenaline shot, your hotel better be on a last minute room booking app, preferably mobile, and yes, offer lots of cool discounts.
3. Going beyond discounts with your Loyalty program
Different audiences, respond differently to loyalty programs. For example, leisure travelers are price conscious, and a price discount may be a great idea to build loyalty.
However, a corporate guest may be enthused by your hotels personalized service and pampering. With the retail industry getting heavily personalized, your potential customers are expecting the same thing.
A good loyalty program that is personal takes into consideration what your guest requested the last time they were in the hotel, or giving useful information on what they could do when they are in the city, or a surprise upgrade - is going to be key to woo your potential guests from the unbranded guest houses and small hotels that currently have the lion’s share of the industry.
4. Moving from a property management system to a Hotel ERP
By now you would have realized that your guest has sophisticated needs, is demanding of your services, not shy of expressing themselves and wants you right behind them at their every beck and call.
Your once great property management system is now limping and you are desperately trying to keep pace between social media marketing, business intelligence, revenue management, distribution channels, online reputation management and more.
Well if you have not heard it before, welcome to the world of the Hotel ERP. One of the prominent providers of a Hotel ERP are IDS Next. Their hotel ERP is robust, agile, readily springs to your every need and leverages all that data you have been accumulating for years to personalize your guest interaction.
While we extensively dwell on technology, hospitality continues to remain a people centric industry. Keeping it all together, making it work and a major component of that guest experience is still delivered by your staff. Don’t forget to invest in them, and empower them with the technological differentiators.
Lilian D’Costa, Senior Manager Marketing, IDS Next, she can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org