You thought you leave all things digital at home when you go on vacation? After all, holidays are about human encounters, about “real” life experiences, aren’t they? Well, you better think again.
The hospitality industry is quickly catching up on the use of digital and mobile technology to enhance customer experience for an ever increasing number of travellers. Here are 6 hot trends that are shaping the industry this year.
Increasingly, holidays are researched, planned, booked and purchased from a handheld device. Studies show that up to 70% of travellers with smartphones have done research for their trip on their phone. Smartphones are indeed an integral part of the search and planning process for travellers. One can look up, research, understand the chosen destination every step of the trip. The hospitality industry is responding by adopting a mobile-first strategy for its marketing and sales.
Customise. Personalise. Start again.
The industry is alive to the fact that offering a personalised service to customers is the best way to secure a high retention rate. Hotels are offering free and secure Wi-Fi, high-definition television… and in the process, are relying on the Internet of Things to collect valuable data that would help them better understand and relate to the market, and design more meaningful consumer journeys. For instance, guest management systems can anticipate a guests’ needs before they even arrive!
Artificial Intelligence to optimise processes
As intimidating as the thought may be, Artificial Intelligence (AI) is increasingly, though discreetly, present in important areas of the hospitality industry. Key players in the industry are using AI to enhance their brand experience at the level of booking, room allocation and customer service, among others. The ultimate goal is to improve optimisation and the guest experience.
Chatbot driven engagement
Chatbots are probably the best way to engage with conversational marketing on hotel websites. On par with AI, chatbots are low-cost, high-impact multi-functional tools that are gradually popping up on hotel websites. Used to assist guests and encourage bookings, chatbots fuel speed of information and encourage longer engagement with a brand.
Computer aided personal relations
Guests often don’t know what they want so Hotels should be able to offer tailored service, helping customers book by communicating with them and answering their queries via live chat, for instance.
As a novelty on its own, QuickText is an integrated platform that can easily scale all instant communication via SMS, instant messages and chat. Its networked system allows a combined and centralised form of communicating with a customer. For example, QuickText facilitated a guest’s birthday in Holland with a beer ordered by a friend in Australia using the hotel’s Facebook messenger.
Managing your reputation online
One important and noticeable shift over the past years has been how much word of mouth has gone digital, and it has a huge influence on travellers booking hotels/trips. To reach these customers in the most efficient way possible, online marketing techniques are getting more strategic and targeted, which means hotels will harness more data this year to reach the right audiences with the right content. Online reputation management may move into the spotlight as a way to both increase bookings and foster customer loyalty online.
So what’s next?
With the constant progress in technology, hotels are under pressure to provide the ultimate customer journey. We can expect a potential and revolutionary introduction of voice-responsive functionality and voice-responsive search experience should arrive soon, too. Additionally, hotels should look forward to streamlining operational processes and facilitate inter-staff communication as much as possible with cloud-based management systems.
Exciting times ahead!