Top 3 Emerging Trends Actually Shaping Hospitality In 2017
Many trends affect the hospitality industry on a day to day basis. In the age of rapid technological and social change, this inevitably leads us to change the way we used to do things. However, some trends may have the strength to last a generation while others may only be a flash in the pan.
We know it’s tough for hoteliers to keep a pulse on all the movement in and around the industry while also making sure you’re running your business well. This is why we’ve decided to focus on the more broader trends as we feel this holds greater meaning in the grand scheme of running the hotel business.
Feel free to weigh your thoughts.
1. Mass Guest Personalization
Next time you walk down the aisle filled with sweets, snacks and chocolate goodies, just take a look at how many different types of chocolate bars you see. There’s one for basically almost every single individual on the planet! Maybe I’m exaggerating but the main point is that there’s a damn lot of chocolate bar brands and types available on the shelf meant to fill every customer’s preference.
Chocolate bars are worth mentioning because just think about how delightful the experience is as you take a bite into one of your favourites. You get that unforgettable memory and you just keep coming back for more. And if you didn’t like wafer-style, well, there’s round chocolates, there’s one filled with nuts, there’s some that contain biscuit and there’s even one filled with “bubbles” or what I called air that they should’ve used to fill with ingredients, that supposedly make the chocolate taste better!
Back to hotels, we know that guests have their preferences and to be able to deliver so many differentiated experiences such that each guest feels special is the key. We have to go beyond the basic segmentation of business or leisure traveller and really get into the nitty-gritty if we want to deliver an amazing guest experience. So next time, ponder whether the guest is a nut-type of person or they are more into creamy milk chocolate or in some cases like me, it could be either or depending on when the time is. I prefer nuts sometimes and prefer creamy milk chocolate at other times.
2. Mobile Payments
Mobile payments are slowly gaining traction even if it hasn’t hit mainstream yet. And the reason why we consider it a trend to watch is because it’s so ubiquitous. Think about how you would pay for things from the iTunes AppStore or Google Play. Your credit card is locked and loaded and all you need to do is authenticate yourself. Think about Uber. Order your ride, step in the car, get to your destination and step out of the car. Payment done and dusted.
According to Skift, mobile travel bookings are up in 2016 compared to 2015 and I’m sure that it will continue to go up as more people are familiar with the process. What does it all mean for a hotelier?
It’s important to recognize that payments is fast becoming a commodity and that guests just want to make a decision, book their travel plans and move on with their lives. Given the quick and easy convenience of mobile payments, guests take less time to consider their options, which makes delivering an amazing experience even more crucial but also a key opportunity. Combining the speed of mobile payments with a memorable guest experience, hotels can truly lock in guest loyalty.
3. Greater ownership of the traveller’s journey
From a guest’s perspective, the journey begins right before checking in at the airport. So far, most hotels, airlines and other travel service providers have only taken ownership of the part of the guest’s journey where they have direct interaction. And this leads to a terribly fragmented experience that has potential unpleasantness written all over it.
Take my previous trip to Tokyo for example. Just as I sat on the plane, our flight was delayed and left many passengers annoyed. We hadn’t even taken off yet and already the trip had its first unpleasantness. The stewardesses were rude as they were commanding passengers to clear the aisles and the food was the typical airline food that you love to hate.
Having landed in Tokyo after a long 13 hour flight of terrible service on the plane, I finally made my way to my hotel. And this is where the magic of guest experience transformed the trip from unpleasant to “oh my god, this is the best day of my life”. The staff managed everything swiftly, understood my situation of tiredness, gave me a better deal that would save me money and got me to my room within minutes. They made sure my bags never touched the floor and promptly escorted me to my room where I was able to finally being to enjoy my trip. Needless to say that my hotel experience transformed my trip!
However, hotels have a great opportunity to showcase their incredible hospitality even before the flight takes off. Notifications, last minute advice and preference solicitations could go a long way. The more touch points and interactions that hotels can build with the customer, the greater the trust and loyalty for the hotel. New tools and technologies are helping hotels get ahead of the line of that interaction. No other travel service provider other than hotels are in the perfect position to do so.