18. June 2017 · Comments Off on Online hotel booking trends · Categories: Trends
PakasaiThailand
Just how do guests dwindle down their hotel selections during the online booking process? Two hospitality professors aimed to find out, looking beyond clickstream analysis by using eye tracking to discover why consumers choose a specific hotel.  Eye tracking is capturing eye movements and converting this information into some form of analyzable data, explained Stephani K.A. Robson, senior lecturer at Cornell University School of Hotel Administration. Robson was one half of the duo who presented research during a webinar titled “Consumer eye-tracking and revenue management,” which was presented jointly by Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International, Hotel News Now and HNN’s parent company, STR.
Robson and her research partner Breffni Noone, associate professor at Penn State’s School of Hospitality Management, analyzed 32 people’s eye tracking patterns, all of whom had one thing in common: They were leisure travelers who had booked a hotel online in the last six months, Robson said.
The research team then sat down with participants to ask them questions about why they clicked on certain hotels and what played into their decisions. Robson and Noone broke down their study into two phases of the online booking process: the browsing phase and the deliberation phase.
Following are five key takeaways from their research.
1. People have high and low price thresholds
During the browsing process, these consumers had a price they didn’t want to go over and a price they didn’t want to go under, Noone said.
And they fixated on brand name the most.
Why?
“This idea of minimizing risk and if I have a bad experience, I know they’ll take care of me,” Noone said.
For example, one participant said: “(Brand name), I mean I feel like they’re kind of the McDonald’s. You always know what you’re going to get there. It’s pretty standard no matter what (brand name) you go into.”
Of note, Noone said there was little brand loyalty among these 32 participants, but brand name was important to them in terms of the consistency and types of experiences that they were going to get in the hotel.
“Sometimes brand name was enough of an impetus to have someone pay more. But not always,” Noone said.
2. Images can change a prospective guest’s mind
When moving to the deliberation phase of the online booking process, consumers fixated on images.
“For some people, they look at every picture in a very systematic way. Even for things they might not be interested in,” Robson explained. “They even clicked through meeting spaces shots (even though they were leisure travelers).”
An image can sometimes change a prospective guest’s mind regarding a property that might be lower priced, Noone said.
For example, a baby boomer male participant happened upon a hotel with arches in front of its entrance. He said: “The arches are elegant. They made me think that the hotel was going to be a little better maintained and would be a bit higher quality.”
Additionally, participants were turned off by old-looking images. “Modern associated with clean. Old associated with dirty,” Robson said.
Whether a hotel was atypical and if it had lush greenery also played a role during the deliberation process, the professors explained.
“People don’t want a run-of-the-mill looking property,” Noone said.
3. People don’t look at properties with less than a 3-star rating
During the browsing phase, participants also had a ratings threshold.
“People were really not looking at properties with less than 3 stars,” Noone said.
They also looked at volume of reviews.
“(The) greatest number of reviews signaled they could trust it,” Noone said.
One participant said: “Obviously, if it’s got a fantastic rating, but it’s only two reviews, well then gee it’s probably the owner and his brother. Not exactly reliable information.”
4. Amenity descriptions can make a difference
During the deliberation phase of the online booking process, participants found property descriptions to be the second most important thing after images.
Wi-Fi and breakfast were the two most prominent amenities participants were looking for, Noone said.
“Anything providing value to the customer has to be very salient and up front,” she added.
Both professors stressed the importance of firm-generated content. “The FGC is really important. Don’t feel like you’re flays to what users are saying about you online. You can take a little bit more control,” Robson said.
5. Reviews matter at lower end of consumers’ price threshold
Participants on average looked at four reviews during the deliberation phase of the online booking process.
“Just enough to gauge what the property is like,” Noone said.
But when taking price into consideration, reviews played a larger role.
“At that lower end of their price threshold, they really needed reviews to make sure it wasn’t too much of a risk. Bad image despite a good review can change a person’s mind during deliberation,” Noone said.
By Samantha Worgull
Associate Editor, Reader Engagement
sworgull@hotelnewsnow.com
09. February 2015 · Comments Off on Hotel Marketing Trends 2015 · Categories: Trends

White armchair on the beachWhile one of 2015’s greatest challenges will be maintaining a high online visibility, that doesn’t necessarily mean blowing the budget. This year, invest in mobile-friendly services and amplify your brand’s online presence through creative use of visuals and better online customer service.

At the beginning of every year, many experts offer their list of industry forecasts for the year ahead. Some turn out to be highly accurate, and others, not so much. 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.

So, for 2015, we’ve put together the trends that hoteliers are most likely to experience this year, along with some strategies for implementing them most effectively.

Mobile Travelers Require Mobile-Friendly Services

Today, almost everybody has a smartphone or tablet; whether they use it for reading the next bestseller 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 traveling – not only for booking, but also to research and find solutions for any issues they might encounter.

In order to make your property more appealing to this type of consumer, it is important that you think beyond just mobile bookings (but of course, if you still haven’t implemented a mobile-friendly site, now is the time!). Some other key tech elements that you should implement at your property to appeal to this type of traveler 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. (i.e. Netflix, Pandora, 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 your popularity with this growing demographic.

Optimize 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 will need to find ways to harness the power of data to find meaningful insight into traveler behavior 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 i n conjunction with your existing technology systems (CRM, PMS, Business Intelligence, etc.).

Analyze 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 analyzes 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 smartphones 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 instill a positive impression in casually browsing travelers.

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. Our experience shows that hotels can expect a response rate between 15% to 30% (for post-stay email surveys), which can yield significant information and insight into necessary operational and service improvements.

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 faster1 than text and the most innovative global hotel brands are already harnessing cognitive stimuli, known as neuro-marketing2, to connect with travelers on a more emotional, instinctual level. This includes encouraging guests to generate visual, earned content as part of your marketing campaign.

You won’t need to drastically increase your marketing budget to maintain online visibility this year. Instead, analyze engagement data across separate social channels to implement smarter, highly visual campaigns, while ensuring your messaging is coherent throughout every department.

2015: Optimize, Visualize, Automate

While one of 2015’s greatest challenges will be maintaining a high online visibility, that doesn’t necessarily mean blowing the budget. This year, invest in mobile-friendly services and amplify your brand’s online presence through creative use of visuals and better online customer service. Leverage the power of Guest Intelligence, the combination of online review analytics and direct guest survey data to get the most complete picture of how and where improvement efforts need to be made. Make valuable guest review data work harder by correctly training staff to understand the insights offered by review and social analytics. Leveraging social data offers hoteliers an unprecedented opportunity to glean actionable insights into areas for improvement in every department, which in turn will lead to smarter spending, stronger guest loyalty and higher revenue.

To learn more about these trends, among many others, that will shape 2015 for hoteliers, please download and listen to our recent free webinar.

Article by RJ Friedlander, CEO of ReviewPro courtesy of Hotelmarketing.com.

While one of 2015’s greatest challenges will be maintaining a high online visibility, that doesn’t necessarily mean blowing the budget. This year, invest in mobile-friendly services and amplify your brand’s online presence through creative use of visuals and better online customer service.

By RJ Friedlander, CEO of ReviewPro

At the beginning of every year, many experts offer their list of industry forecasts for the year ahead. Some turn out to be highly accurate, and others, not so much. 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.

So, for 2015, we’ve put together the trends that hoteliers are most likely to experience this year, along with some strategies for implementing them most effectively.

Mobile Travelers Require Mobile-Friendly Services

Today, almost everybody has a smartphone or tablet; whether they use it for reading the next bestseller 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 traveling – not only for booking, but also to research and find solutions for any issues they might encounter.

In order to make your property more appealing to this type of consumer, it is important that you think beyond just mobile bookings (but of course, if you still haven’t implemented a mobile-friendly site, now is the time!). Some other key tech elements that you should implement at your property to appeal to this type of traveler 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. (i.e. Netflix, Pandora, 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 your popularity with this growing demographic.

Optimize 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 will need to find ways to harness the power of data to find meaningful insight into traveler behavior 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 i n conjunction with your existing technology systems (CRM, PMS, Business Intelligence, etc.).

Analyze 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 analyzes 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 smartphones 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 instill a positive impression in casually browsing travelers.

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. Our experience shows that hotels can expect a response rate between 15% to 30% (for post-stay email surveys), which can yield significant information and insight into necessary operational and service improvements.

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 faster1 than text and the most innovative global hotel brands are already harnessing cognitive stimuli, known as neuro-marketing2, to connect with travelers on a more emotional, instinctual level. This includes encouraging guests to generate visual, earned content as part of your marketing campaign.

You won’t need to drastically increase your marketing budget to maintain online visibility this year. Instead, analyze engagement data across separate social channels to implement smarter, highly visual campaigns, while ensuring your messaging is coherent throughout every department.

2015: Optimize, Visualize, Automate

While one of 2015’s greatest challenges will be maintaining a high online visibility, that doesn’t necessarily mean blowing the budget. This year, invest in mobile-friendly services and amplify your brand’s online presence through creative use of visuals and better online customer service. Leverage the power of Guest Intelligence, the combination of online review analytics and direct guest survey data to get the most complete picture of how and where improvement efforts need to be made. Make valuable guest review data work harder by correctly training staff to understand the insights offered by review and social analytics. Leveraging social data offers hoteliers an unprecedented opportunity to glean actionable insights into areas for improvement in every department, which in turn will lead to smarter spending, stronger guest loyalty and higher revenue.

To learn more about these trends, among many others, that will shape 2015 for hoteliers, please download and listen to our recent free webinar.

– See more at: http://hotelmarketing.com/index.php/content/article/trends_that_will_boost_your_hotel_marketing_in_2015#sthash.tunXHXrt.dpuf

07. November 2013 · Comments Off on Six trends shaping global travel in 2014 · Categories: Trends

ec2LONDON—The global economy might have stabilized, but the travel and tourism industry is as dynamic as ever, according to “World Travel Market global trends report 2013,” which was commissioned by the World Travel Market in conjunction with Euromonitor International and released Monday at the World Travel Market in London, says Patrick Mayock, editor-in-chief of Hotelnewsnow.
“The global economy in 2013 has stabilized compared to 2012 with a 3.1% (gross-domestic-product) growth expected for the year,” said the BBC’s Babita Sharma, who was tapped to present the key findings and moderate a subsequent panel. The International Monetary Fund predicts a further 3.8% increase during 2014, she added.

The travel and tourism industry is expected to record growth as well, averaging 4% increases for both arrivals and tourism spend during the next five years, she said.
Several key trends will emerge during this time of growth, according to the report.
1. Americas: PANKs show potential
Forget the DINKs, the traveler demographic also known as “dual income with no kids.” Today in the Americas one of the largest untapped segments is the PANKs, or the “professional aunts with no kids,” according to the report.
There are 23 million members of this cohort in the United States alone, Sharma said. They are smart, tech-savvy working professionals who see travel as a good way to connect with their nieces, nephews, godchildren or other kids in their lives.
They range in age, said Caroline Bremner, head of travel and tourism research for Euromonitor International, during the panel portion of the session. Approximately two in five (42%) of women aged 15 to 44 are childless but feel a strong desire to foster relationships with the children in their lives, she said.
“With regard to tailoring (hotel offerings) to them, obviously you need to be talking to them and communicating to them through social media, having multiple platforms to ensure you’re reaching them and that the message is consistent across them,” Bremner said.
“(But) it’s not necessarily revamping (the hotel experience) completely,” she added.
PANKs’ preferred travel destinations are domestic, family-friendly destinations places such as Disneyworld and Hawaii, Sharma said.
And what about the market potential for uncles in similar situations? The PUNK segment is nearly as viable, Bremner said.
2. Europe: Travel in the sharing economy
“Recent developments in online commerce and social media have made sharing travel services easier,” Sharma said. They’ve also led to new business models in the sharing economy. Among them: Airbnb, HouseTrip and HomeAway.
The concept is simple, Sharma explained: Average Janes and Joes offer their unused rooms, apartments or more to travelers on a short-term basis. The exchange is not only more affordable than a traditional hotel stay, but it usually offers a more authentic taste of the destination or locale, she said.
Such peer-to-peer travel networks are growing exponentially in Europe and will represent approximately $15 billion in global travel accommodation sales by 2017, according to the report.
They’ve gained traction elsewhere, including the United States, where some municipalities wish to eke out their share of the success by imposing occupancy taxes and other regulations.
Sharma said those efforts are not enough to deter this increasingly popular market, however.
3. Concierge gone mobile
Certain trends transcend borders. The rise of smartphones is one of them, Sharma said.
“The concept of a mobile concierge is on the rise,” she said.
In addition to serving as a reservation channel, mobile is now being used increasingly as a pocket-ready customer service tool.
For guests, it ensures real-time solutions to their every beck and call. And while that adds to the operational workload of hoteliers, it also allows them to foster deeper relationships and engagement with the guests they work so hard to target.
Hoteliers who fail to embrace this trend risk losing out on business, said Angelo Rossini, travel and tourism analyst at Euromonitor.
“We think this is a strongly rising trend,” he said. “We need to embrace it.”
4. Africa: On safari—with the kids
Multi-generational holidays are growing, and Africa’s safari-tourism business is not immune.
“South Africa is a key destination for family safaris,” Sharma said, noting increases in inbound arrivals to several other safari destinations throughout the continent.
The demand is especially apparent from emerging countries like India and China, whose inhabitants are more likely to travel with large groups and families, she said.
Tourism companies and hoteliers should work to meet the demand, developing affordable and –above all else—safe options for families, Sharma said.
5. Chasing the 24-hour traveler
Savvy hoteliers are rethinking their definitions of what constitutes a hotel guest, Sharma said. The overnight guest always will be the industry’s bread and butter, but gradually hoteliers are utilizing unused spaces to accommodate workers and transient travelers during the day.
The trend has materialized in several different ways. Some major chains, such as Marriott International, are now selling workspaces by the day or hour in formerly unused lobby and meeting spaces.
Others are selling rooms on a similar short-term basis for the traveling businessperson who needs to recharge during a layover or long-haul flight.
6. India: Social media shake up
India is already Facebook’s third largest market with 82 million users, but the country has only reached a fraction of its online potential. Only 12% of its population is online, according to the report, with 300 million projected by 2017. Three-fourths of those will be active on social media.
Mobile bookings are likely to soar, Sharma explained.
Hoteliers and travel industry professionals must tailor their offerings to fit this apparent need, streamlining their online booking channels and ensuring consistent content across different platforms, including smartphones, tablets and desktops, she said.
But they also must keep in mind the purpose of each platform, Rossini said. Social media, for instance, should not be used for promotions.
“The aim of social media is to engage … to gain their loyalty and therefore to increase revenues not on a short-term basis but on a long-term basis,” he said.

By Patrick Mayock
Editor-in-Chief
patrick@hotelnewsnow.com

09. January 2012 · Comments Off on Top 10 Hospitality Trends for 2012 · Categories: Trends

Many hoteliers agree that 2012 is looking optimistic, and to capitalise on this projected upswing it is useful to review some of the opportunities and challenges of the hospitality marketplace.

Image: Ksar Char Bagh Morocco

Here is an interesting list of the Top 10 Hospitality Industry Trends for 2012 compiled by Robert Rauch, president of R.A. Rauch & Associates, a San Diego-based hospitality management company www.hotelguru.com:

  1. Hoteliers will invest in reinvigorating properties to take advantage of the market.
    After years of delaying capital expenditures, hotel companies are betting that now is the best opportunity to renovate their properties. In 2012, we’ll see even more hotels renovating lobbies, restaurants, bars and fitness centers, as well as replacing beds, TVs, and more. Hotel sales, an absolute outcome of an improved market, will spur even more renovations since sale contracts always contain a provision requiring the new owner to upgrade the property.
  2. There will be little to no new development dollars on the debt or equity Side.
    This is good news for most, but bad news for the developers who genuinely have enviable sites in great markets. Despite that, optimism reigns. A great deal can, and will, get done. We’ve seen it. In fact, we’re working on one ourselves.
  3. Online booking will continue to (modestly) grow.
    The number of U.S. travelers booking and researching online is still growing. More than 114 million people will research travel online this year, while 94 million will actually book reservations. While more than 50 percent of travel bookings are made on the Internet, the online travel market has matured and I expect modest growth and stabilization.
  4. There will be more mobile bookings and research.
    More and more travelers will be turning to their mobile devices to not only research lodging and travel options, but to book and communicate room preferences directly with the hotel. Mobile channel booking has increased four-fold between 2008 and 2010 according to Forrester Research. Plus, Google is projecting that mobile will overtake PCs as the most common Web-access device by 2013. With travelers adopting smartphones and tablets at such a rapid pace, it’s crucial for hoteliers to optimize their website for mobile usage to capture potential mobile transactions.
  5. Demand and average rate are up in most markets, but not equally distributed.
    The top 25 markets in the U.S., and those that were really battered at the height of the recession, have seen the most bounce by and large. Many secondary and tertiary markets have not seen a strong recovery to date.
  6. Revenue management will make the art of managing a hotel more of a science.
    Revenue management has morphed from the days it was first introduced by the airline industry in the 1970s to being a complex science today. Managers have always lowered prices to stimulate sales when demand is weak and have raised prices during peak demand periods. Hotels are now able to update prices for all future arrival dates to match market demands each day, via advanced market intelligence applications. TravelClick has pace reports for transient and group demand that look at bookings one year in advance. Plus, Smith Travel Research will soon introduce reports offering intelligence looking at future bookings, rather than solely historic figures.
  7. Proliferation of distribution channel management will largely impact pricing.
    More than ever, it will be vital for hotel owners and operators to stay on top of the distribution landscape that is expanding beyond OTAs, including popular sales vehicles such as meta-search, flash sales and mobile channels. Beyond simple awareness of the different mediums available to sell hotel rooms, hoteliers must know the costs of the variety of distribution channels and the returns expected from each. Hoteliers must preserve rate parity and their brand by utilizing the most cost-effective distribution channels, instead of using desperate measures to sell inventory.
  8. Brands will put more money into deals to expand market share.
    The brands are at war for the development deals that have a chance to get financed. Starwood, Hyatt, and Intercontinental are aggressively pursuing the Hilton and Marriott juggernaut. Whether it’s key money, mezzanine debt or equity, seasoned developers will have their way with the brands as they fight for share of the new builds.
  9. Prepare for growth.
    However, know where we are in the game. We are in the second inning of the industry when compared to a baseball game with the peak or 9th inning coming in 2016…use caution from 2017 and beyond. These next five years will see hotel values with annualized double digit growth. Demand will stabilize in 2012 but rates will grow beyond the rate of inflation. That means profits and values improve markedly.
  10. Social media will continue to transform connections with travelers.
    By 2016, half of the travel industry will be using social media as a way of generating revenue and bookings. Currently more than one-fifth (22 percent) use social media as a revenue generating tool with a further 27 percent planning to do so over the next five years. Plus, social media will become more of a key component of Search Engine Results Page (SERP) algorithms. Facebook’s posts are already integrated into Bing search and Google+ emerged with native integration into Google search. Hotels can no longer afford to linger over adding social media to their marketing mix. It’s now a necessary element of traffic-driving success.