2017 being in full swing, we have put together a summary of the three major trends that are set to have an impact on the world of hospitality this year and how you can best tap into them.
1. IT IS BECOMING INCREASINGLY ESSENTIAL FOR THE GUEST EXPERIENCE TO BE MADE SMOOTHER AND EASIER
In today’s busy world, every effort made by hotels to make one’s stay easier is greatly appreciated by guests.
One development which illustrates this increasing need for fluidity is the booming success experienced by on-demand driver services (such as Uber or Lyft) which have revolutionized the taxi industry in recent years, all over the world.
As the prices offered by taxis and on-demand driver services are not dissimilar, it is clear that the success of these companies is based entirely on the customer experience that they offer. Through an app, bookings can be made in just a few taps, your car is there within minutes, the route plans itself and, most importantly, the payment process is completely transparent (no need for cash or a bank card).
When it comes to rideshare apps, the customer experience is made as ‘fluid’ as can be and does not include long or repetitive tasks. This extreme fluidity is the basis for a very strong customer loyalty, with a study by Chronos & Obsoco showing us that rideshare customers use this service two times more often than taxi users use theirs (42% vs 19%).
As customer loyalty is one of the most important goals of the hospitality industry, we need to think about how a similarly fluid guest experience can be brought about in hotels.
How about simplifying your guests’ journey?
A great guest experience in the world of hospitality is of course, in large part, down to an effective and friendly team. However, it can also be significantly improved by the introduction of tools put in place to make guests’ lives easier. This is particularly true when it comes to the rising generation of smartphone obsessed millennials. To keep up with current hotel standards, a mobile concierge app which presents all your services and gives guests the chance to order them straight from their smartphone, is becoming increasingly important to help hotels stand out from the crowd.
What could be better than booking a spa treatment, a table or a sandwich with just a few taps on your smartphone from the comfort of your own bed? The easier the order method, the easier it becomes to spend. It’s as simple as that.
Your guests’ experience will also be improved by putting all the information they may need at their fingertips. From practical information (on pharmacies, the post office and shops nearby) to tourist destinations (on monuments, museums and events) or restaurant tips. You choose the information that you want to share with your guests, giving them personalized advice for their trip, even when they are out and about exploring.
It is the quality of your tips and services which will make you stand out from your competitors.
However, hotels can’t do all this on their own and therefore need to call on partners to help them put these innovations into action. This will, however, be worth it. As it is through such an app that every step of your guests’ experience will be made easier. From an online check-in before their stay, to using smartphones as room keys, having their bill sent straight to their inbox and finally being able to check-out with just a few taps on their phone. The possibilities are endless, and as the success of on-demand driver services have shown us, it is simplicity and fluidity which will win over your guests.
Needless to say, a satisfied guest is one that is likely to return and that will encourage others to book with you by giving you positive feedback, either online or by word of mouth.
2. INSTANT MESSAGING CHATBOT
The use of instant messaging is another trend which has exploded in recent years. The number of Facebook Messenger, Skype, WhatsApp and even text message users is enormous : in January 2017, WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger each had 1 billion users worldwide.
Most Millennials almost never use their smartphone to make phone calls, however they communicate with each other more than ever through messaging apps. This is becoming a real problem for hotels as they are forced to be present on all communication channels to respond to their clients’ needs.
How about communicating with your guests on a device they always have on them?
Chatbot is an instant messaging service which is automatically managed by a computer/robot to deal with basic client requests by detecting key words. It’s worth a mention as Chatbot has become a phenomenon in recent years and is widely used by big companies that have to deal with a high volume of customer questions (especially on social media). However, the requests are often too complicated and the responses not up to scratch. In some cases, a hybrid approach that is powered by both humans and robots can help make dealing with requests easier.
For hotels, though, it seems that this high a volume of customer requests is rarely reached. Therefore, the best solution remains to simply be present on all communication channels and to manually respond to guest requests and questions. For in the case of the hotel industry, it is the quality of responses which will determine guest satisfaction and therefore help to increase guest loyalty.
3. THE SHARING ECONOMY
There is an extraordinary appetite at the moment for the sharing economy, particularly among millennials. To recap, the sharing economy involves renting out unoccupied or unused spaces, services or products. It can include almost anything, from parking spaces and cars to apartments and work spaces, or even something as small as a camera or drill.
As a result, we can increase the value of a product which would otherwise have none at all, such as with a car which stands in the garage 25 days a month or that great camera which is barely used. If a product is used more frequently, sometimes in exchange for money, it becomes much more affordable to own and can even be used to make a profit.
The hotel industry has been directly impacted by this new trend towards the collaborative economy, with the emergence and success of apartment rental sites such as Airbnb playing key roles. However, hotels too can tap into this trend. They can, for example, offer up non-occupied rooms during the day using the ‘day use’ system, through which rooms that would otherwise stand empty can be rented out several times a day. This allows hotels to generate additional revenue.
You can also rent out parking spots, co-working and events spaces. While this may require some additional organisation, these are all excellent gateways for hotels to generate a higher turnover.
Aside from the financial advantages, with the coming and going of different guests and the happenings in the communal rooms and meeting rooms, the general atmosphere of your hotel will also benefit.
What about offering car pooling to your guests?
In a similar way, by offering your guests a car pooling service, you will encourage guests to meet and share their experience. If one of your guests is going to the City on business, why not ask if he has space for another guest? You are the key link between all your guests and it is therefore up to you to match them in order to make their stay even more memorable.
- Photo : Hilton Hotel http://www.evermotion.org/tutorials/show/9983/making-of-thailand-s-hilton-hotel-tip-of-the-week
- Study by Chronos & Oscoco : TNCs, the result of unsatisfied taxi customers: https://issuu.com/chronos_issuu/docs/observatoiremobilitesemergentes__do_6f0cd46874f166