Whether you are already onboard or are quietly waiting and watching, the focus on mobile within the hospitality industry has only grown stronger over the past couple of years. Now, with 2015 upon us, the mobile movement has proved itself here to stay. With increasingly more hoteliers armed with mobile websites, mobile booking engines and mobile hotel management systems, focus is shifting to what’s next. Here are five hotel industry trends to watch in 2015…
From “Small Screen” to “All Screens”
With the rise of the millennial traveler and their tendency to plan and book travel online and on the go, hoteliers have put concentrated effort into mobile websites and mobile booking engines in order to capture this rapidly growing segment. As this trend continues, it’s becoming more important to cater to the full range of devices — present and future — in an efficient, effective and economical way.
Focus on the small screen (or even three screens: desktop, tablet and smartphone) is shifting to a more ubiquitous approach: all screens — including the in-between sizes that are now materializing. Therefore, responsive Web design is becoming the method of choice when it comes to online marketing and software. Responsive user interfaces provide seamless experiences with optimal usability no matter the device, as well as a single point of content control.
Social Customer Service and Reputation Management
Social media played a big part in increasing brand awareness and guest engagement last year and the trend will continue to claim a growing proportion of hotels’ marketing budgets into the foreseeable future. Social media also proved to be an effective platform for customer service, reaching the mobile millennials who turn to social media and review sites for first-hand information and experience of a brand. In the year ahead, social media will play an even bigger role in customer service, and as social engagement continues to build, reputation management systems and social monitoring tools will be deemed a necessity.
Mobility and Integration Through the Cloud
Hoteliers are much less hesitant about cloud technology than they were five years ago. Hospitality Technology’s 2014 Lodging Technology Study forecasts 51 percent of hotels will use cloud solutions for CRM, 50 percent for PMS, and 44 percent for POS before the year is out. Aside from making good financial sense, cloud technology offers an uncomplicated and seamless route to mobilizing and integrating hotel systems.
Mobile and integrated hotel systems vastly improve hotel operations in terms of efficiency and guest service. As more and more lodging operators realize the benefits of mobilizing and integrating their hotel systems, the shift to cloud technology will only continue to grow. Which leads to our next trend…
Innovative Technology for Superior Personalized Service
The whole purpose behind technology in hospitality has always been to increase efficiency and improve guest service (whether or not individual systems have succeeded in this). Today it’s no different, except that, now, innovation in hospitality technology is flourishing… and it needs to be; travelers are increasingly demanding self-sufficiency through mobile apps for self-check-in and out, mobile concierge, and even mobile room keys. But this doesn’t mean that good old-fashioned service can take a back seat; today’s travelers have high expectations for both modern amenities and personalized service, so standing out means to provide both.
Through integrating such guest-facing technology with PMS or CRM systems, guest profiles are enriched with powerful data that can help hoteliers customize the guest experience based on special requests, on-property spend and social media mentions.
As hoteliers embrace innovative, connected technology as a way to provide guests with more autonomy while accumulating richer guest data, personalized guest service will in turn reach new levels.
Health and Wellness
Travel is no longer an excuse for putting personal health regimes on hold. From local, organic ingredients to Pilates and yoga, a healthy lifestyle is hot and even small properties without on-site fitness facilities or restaurants can keep up with this trend.
Providing healthy options in the lobby vending machine or at the breakfast buffet, and fitness props such as hand weights and yoga mats along with on-demand fitness programming are some ways smaller properties could promote themselves to health-conscious travelers this year.