Our industry has seen vast disruptions and fluctuations over the past two decades. Which of the key trends have steadily reshaped the industry? Where are we headed in the future? There are 8 notable trends that we need to take into consideration to stand out in an already competitive market space.
#1 – Virtual communities
The advent of social networks, particularly TripAdvisor, have had a profound influence on consumers and connectivity. These reviews served as the tipping point to more transparency and thus improved quality of services provided by hospitality companies, especially in massive, ever competitive market spaces. Two recent studies display a rising reliance on TripAdvisor during the planning, booking and post-trip experience. According to a 2018 Oxford Economics Study, the TripAdvisor platform has affected $546 billion USD (10.3%) of global tourism spent annually in the travel and hospitality industry. Another 2018 study from comScore found that 60% of people booking travel online went to TripAdvisor during the travel planning and booking process, and a full 74% of travelers used TripAdvisor when booking on hotel websites.
#2 – Sharing economy
Airbnb has been a major disruption in the hotel industry, making the landscape more difficult than ever. However, as the brand evolves, it faces serious challenges in matching the amenities that hotels provide. Hosts can provide a hotel-like experience for guests in broad markets, thus allowing a greater reach for some consumers. Should this cause concern and suffering? The short answer is no. In 2018, many hotels saw their best year ever for occupancy in the United States. Stock prices for Marriott and Hilton grew more than 40% over a 12-month period.
#3 – Digitalized guest experiences
Apps, in particular, are increasingly important in the way hoteliers manage the services offered to their customers. They can now control many aspects of the guest cycle and experience. Mobile Integration is an especially interesting transformation because with mobile-first and mobile-only brands continuing to grow, customers can do practically anything on their phone from checking in to ordering room service to unlocking the room door itself. In fact, one can plan an entire trip, from booking to bedtime and home again, without ever talking to a live human. With this, it makes sense that our industry would begin to harness that data to improve the customer experience. After all, the more they know about their guests, the better they can please them. If the data tells them the customer has visited their resort every year for the last three years, it can automatically send a message proactively asking the guest if they’d like to make another booking this year. You just saved your customer a step and guaranteed a booked room without ever lifting a finger. The same could be said by harnessing information about food selection, excursions, and in-room amenities. The opportunities for up-sells and better customer experience are endless.
#4 – Booming global tourism
Improvement in transportation is also a massive factor in encouraging people to invest their time and money to escape the confines of their own country and become international explorers. Discount airlines, plummeting flight prices and package deals have made overseas travel steadily more affordable, especially for the middle-class. Lower oil prices have allowed airlines to drop their rates, increasing demand for flights from people who find it’s now just as affordable to fly overseas as it is to travel around their own country. With so many avenues to secure a bargain and coupled with the speed planes can now traverse the globe, flights are no longer the hassle or strain they used to be.
#5 – Experience economy
Technology can be credited with furthering almost every industry, and tourism is no different. Advancements in technology have made it much easier for people to discover new places, and its potential growth knows no bounds. With the countless amount of platforms to source travel information, travelers are taking advantage of their options to book new and exciting trips. Gone are the days of visiting a travel agent or staying at a traditional accommodation. Now, travelers can make all of their own decisions and be more adventurous with their choice of lodgings. Connected to this is the simplicity that technology grants travelers when booking their trip and organizing their itinerary. With mobile booking becoming increasingly prevalent, travelers can make reservations anytime, anywhere, and customize their plans as they see fit. Personalized experiences and business-customer relationships are at an all-time high. As a result, hotels must continue to invest in technology in if they want to capitalize on the current tourism trend.
#6 – Professionalization
The hotel business is an employee-intensive and quality driven service industry. The competitiveness and productivity of the industry depend primarily on the skill levels and professionalism of its employees. The competencies quality hospitality employees should possess vary based on the perceptions of those we ask. Great time and effort goes into training to ensure that employees have the knowledge, skills and ability to succeed in the industry, but it appears to be a moving target with guests’ needs, desires, and expectations constantly changing.
#7 – Generation Z
Research shows that when it comes to Generation Z deciding on travel accommodations, 16% will choose an Airbnb while 57% will choose a hotel. This is the opportunity for the hotel industry to capitalize on young travelers eager to see new places. Whether it be a week-long spring break trip to Nashville or a weekend in New York City, Gen Z wants to experience the destination city with their hotel accommodation. To do this, hotels need to connect the community culture to the guest experience. The more unique, the better! If your hotel can assure guests a guaranteed piece of their city experience with a booking, trends show Gen Z will appreciate their stay that much more.
#8 – Sustainability
Certain sustainability practices could be considered nearly universal in the hotel industry. Among the common green practices are water conserving fixtures and linen-reuse programs. Guest are generally willing to participate in sustainability programs, but the presence of green operations still do not outweigh price and convenience considerations when selecting a hotel. Often, there is an increased willingness to participate when hotels offer incentives for participating in environmental programs, typically in the form of a loyalty program. Although the link between environmentally sustainable programs and improved customer satisfaction is weak compared to standard drivers like facilities, room, and food and beverage quality, hotels are increasingly expected to maintain sustainability programs as a regular feature of their business. At the same time, the environmental sustainability programs do not diminish guest satisfaction. Consequently, the decision regarding which programs to implement should rest on cost-benefit analysis and other operating considerations.