At the beginning of every year, many experts offer their list of industry forecasts for the year ahead. In the hotel industry in particular, most prediction articles neglect to mention how hoteliers should actually implement these trends at their properties. After all, figuring out how to make a trend work for you can often be the hardest part of innovation, writes RJ Friedlander.
Here are the trends that hoteliers are most likely to experience this year, along with some strategies for implementing them most effectively.
Mobile Travellers Require Mobile-Friendly Services
Today, almost everybody has a smartphone or tablet; whether they use it for reading the next best-seller or chatting with friends on Facebook, we will see that these devices will become even more critical for hoteliers to consider in 2015.
Unlike previous generations, Millennials (those who reached young adulthood around the year 2000) are “mobile-first” travel consumers who rely heavily on their mobile while travelling.
In order to make your property more appealing to Millennials, it is important that you think beyond just mobile bookings. Some other key tech elements that you should implement at your property include:
• Free high-speed Wi-Fi throughout the property.
• Option to checkout via tablets in the front lobby.
• Device charging docks in all of the common areas.
• Music players that will work with both Apple and Android devices.
• Online concierge service with local info, attractions, etc.
• Smart TVs, which allow streaming from a guests’ various online accounts for TV, movies, music, etc.
All of these options provide self-service options for those who would prefer to do everything online from their collection of smartphones, tablets and laptops, and will help your hotel increase popularity with this growing demographic.
Optimise Big Data, Online & On-Site
The proliferation of big data runs the risk of overwhelming hoteliers, but managed correctly, it can unlock the door to highly personalized experiences for guests and better operations for hoteliers – both online and on-site.
Hotels need to find ways to harness the power of data to find meaningful insight into traveller behaviour and likes/dislikes to make decisions that decrease costs, drive greater guest satisfaction and increase revenue. What is especially critical is to find a way to leverage the most valuable Guest Intelligence in conjunction with your existing technology systems (CRM, PMS, Business Intelligence).
Analyse online semantic data (the language used by guests in online reviews) to help you identify how guests feel about the overall condition of your hotel’s resources and the ROI of budgets for separate departments.
Guest satisfaction data is also no longer limited to online reviews. Harvest even more feedback by creating custom online guest satisfaction surveys that allow your hotel to ask guests specific questions about different elements of their experience at your hotel. Find out more about how your hotel can implement guest satisfaction surveys.
Use an online reputation management tool that analyses reviews from all sources (there are more than 140) in all languages, that is user-friendly (to maximize staff engagement) and that offers an open platform (API access that can connect to your property’s current internal technological platforms/systems) to enable accessing and managing all online reviews, comments, ratings and direct guest survey results in one integrated platform.
Bring Offline Services Online
Social media is rapidly becoming the number one channel for customer service. Since the explosion of smart phones and tablets, communication with consumers has evolved into an open online dialogue – real-time streams of conversation that are visible to anyone, anywhere. Correctly handled, conversations between guests and brands can instil a positive impression in casually browsing travellers.
Discuss how your hotel marketing team should respond to requests and comments to transform Twitter into a customer service channel. Set up alerts to automatically monitor mentions of your hotel online across all major channels. You can also make the process of reviews more proactive by automatically sending customized guest satisfaction surveys – which might have once gathered dust in the hotel room – to guests as a post-stay email to gain valuable insight into how you can improve guests’ experiences in very specific areas.
Visualize Your Brand Message on Social Media
In 2015, increase the use of visual media – especially videos and vivid imagery – on your website and social media. The brain recognizes visual content 60,000 times faster than text and the most innovative global hotel brands are already harnessing cognitive stimuli, known as neuro-marketing, to connect with travellers on a more emotional, instinctual level. This includes encouraging guests to generate visual, earned content as part of your marketing campaign.
For more information visit www.reviewpro.com.
About the author: RJ Friedlander is the CEO of ReviewPro – a leading provider of Guest Intelligence solutions to independent hotel brands worldwide. The company’s suite of cloud-based solutions includes Online Reputation Management (ORM) and Guest Survey Solution (GSS), which enable hoteliers to obtain deeper insight into operational and service strengths and weaknesses, increasing guest satisfaction, review volume and driving revenue.