In hospitality, like most industries, customer service and satisfaction is priority number one, and, while industry trends may shift from year to year, the end goal is always the same: satisfied guests and increased revenue.
In our digital age, the ways of winning over our customers and potential customers have changed. Right now you’ll find that trends across most industries are focused heavily on digital and mobile strategies, and you’re probably not surprised; your customers are online, and so your business should be, too. Here are seven hospitality industry trends for 2014 we feel should be taken seriously this year:
Mobile bookings: In North America, 2014 will mark the first year that online access is greater from mobile devices than desktops or laptops. Half of all direct online bookings will be made via mobile devices by 2017 (Source: Daily Travel News).
Take action: Get a mobile-optimized website with a mobile-optimized online booking engine.
Direct bookings: As the number of OTAs increases, commissions are becoming a significant expense for hotels. Entice customers to your own website and keep them there long enough to make a booking.
Take action: Spruce up your website (or give it a complete facelift) with fresh content, great photos and videos, and current promotions. (Remember to make it a mobile-optimized site with mobile bookings.) Allocate some of your budget to meta search site marketing and social media marketing to help drive online traffic to your own website.
Social media marketing: Marketing strategies are rapidly evolving, largely thanks to social media. Social media has given businesses a way to engage with customers like never before. The hard sell of traditional advertising is giving way to meaningful “conversations” with your customers through providing them with valuable content and information that builds your brand awareness and customer loyalty.
Take action: Set up social media pages — Facebook, Instagram, Twitter — for your property (and maybe even a blog) and connect with your customers online through photo sharing, videos, and engaging posts — you’ll improve your SEO while doing so; Google ranks sites on current content and social “proof.”
Fast and personalized service: Today’s guests (largely Generation Y travelers) are quick to speak up and have immediate access to platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Yelp and TripAdvisor in their pockets. Customer service is more important than ever as reputation hangs in the balance. Guests expect quick and easy booking, fast check-in/out, and fast and reliable WiFi. Focus on providing a guest-centric experience to ensure repeat business. Customer complaints should be addressed and resolved immediately.
Take action: Empower your staff to resolve guest issues on the spot; Use guest data in your PMS to learn about your guests; Upgrade to a cloud-based PMS to speed up check-in/out and other operational processes and to provide staff access to the system on the go; Boost your bandwidth if your WiFi is not meeting guest demand.
Reviews & reputation management: Review-based website TripAdvisor is the world’s most popular travel website with 34 million users each month. Travelers shopping for hotels online read reviews before making a booking. Reviews matter.
Take action: Monitor reviews across review sites like TripAdvisor and respond quickly. Even respond to the good ones! Free review monitoring software like Google Alerts and Social Mention can help you keep on top of this.
International visitors are on the rise: More people are traveling farther and more frequently than ever. According to the World Travel & Tourism Council, the Travel and Tourism industry is currently among the largest and fastest-growing industries worldwide.
Take action: Make sure your property is visible to the global market through meta search sites and/or OTAs.
Analyzing data: Property management systems are a treasure trove of valuable information that can be used to analyze your business, help form strategies and make smart business decisions.
Take action: Choose a property management system that offers flexible and detailed reporting to ensure you get a clear picture of the numbers and trends that really matter to your property.