From a guest’s first touchpoint with front desk staff to their post-stay customer service experience, ensuring the guest journey is immaculate is crucial for any hotel. After all, if you wouldn’t be able to meet your customers’ expectations, you would go out of business pretty quickly.
But what about hotel guest expectations when it comes to hotel technology? Nowadays, it seems like technology is innovating quicker than ever before. And with constantly changing hotel tech trends, guests have higher expectations for hotels to adhere to certain technological standards. This holds true for both expectations during the booking process and at the hotel itself.
So what do changing technology trends mean for hotels, and more importantly, how are they impacting the hotel guest experience journey in 2020?
How technology is transforming the booking process
The changing nature of Google hotel search results
As it stands, 96% of leisure travellers start their hotel planning with an online search. It’s a no-brainer then that showing up on Google page one for these searches is a priority for any hotel.
But that’s where it gets tricky: showing up for prominent Google searches is very difficult considering the competitive nature of the industry. OTA’s like Booking.com are willing (and able) to pay billions of USD to show up first, making it an extremely lucrative business for the search giant.
And it’s working (for now). OTA’s are currently receiving 51% of all online hotel bookings.
Recently, however, Google has started pushing down free search engine listings to make room for even more paid ads. This makes it even harder for individual hotels to reach guests online.
More importantly, though, customers now have the ability to book trips directly through Google. They can complete the reservation using contact information stored in their Google Accounts, and make payments directly through Google Pay. Not only will this make the booking journey much quicker, customers will also no longer be required to leave the platform or visit OTA websites during the process.
So while OTA’s are still playing a big role in the booking process, and hotels are continuing to out-compete each other in search results, we’re already seeing Google transforming the booking process – and customer expectations changing as a result.
Side note: if you’re now wondering how to reach potential guests if you don’t have an OTA-sized advertising budget or, quite simply, aren’t Google – don’t fret. In our last article, we predicted that the GDS will continue to see YOY growth by as much as 5% to 10% worldwide. Here’s more on why the GDS is still as important as ever for hoteliers.
Mobile devices are revolutionising the hotel booking process
Whether we like it or not, smartphones are becoming more and more intertwined with our daily lives. This is also true for mobile hotel bookings, which grew by 1700% in just four years. It’s now common for consumers to switch between devices (in fact, 94% have admitted to doing so at least once before) when planning and booking a trip. Mobile devices are more important than ever in the booking process.
But with increased mobile usage comes higher guest expectations for mobile hotel booking sites. A total of 88% of travellers using mobile phones would switch to another site or app if the one they’re using doesn’t satisfy their needs. Customers are increasingly losing patience with slow-loading mobile websites, so make sure your hotel website is mobile-friendly while you can.
On a similar note, the increased use of mobile devices in the booking process is also changing how people search for hotels. As it’s much easier to ask your phone questions than it is to type them out, 50% of all online searches are expected to be done by voice-enabled technology this year alone. After all, the average human can type 40 words per minute, but speak 150 words during the same amount of time.
How technology is transforming hotel facilities
The rise of the voice assistant
It’s not just how bookers search for hotels that is changing: a total of 79% of hoteliers have plans to invest in hotel technology at the property itself. In 2020, whether a hotel will win over a guest depends on whether they’ll provide a positive experience beyond the minimum guest expectations of a hotel room. It’s particularly Gen X and Gen Y guests that seek experiences that they can’t get at other hotels.
As a result, hoteliers are starting to focus more on providing an outstanding guest experience by incorporating technology into their own facilities. Using in-room technology, for example, can make a guest’s stay more enjoyable.
Implementing voice technology has been at the forefront of this trend. According to Google’s most recent figures, at the end of 2021, there will be more than 1.6 billion people who use voice assistants on a regular basis. And what better way to make a guest’s stay as convenient as possible than by providing them with the same technology they use on a daily basis at home?
Smart speakers and voice assistants (such as Alexa or Google Home) are also fairly popular amongst hoteliers as they can be used to drive additional revenue. To give you an example, when guests order room service through voice assistants, the technology can be customised to drive higher margin sales by recommending certain dishes.
And if you are able to personalise that recommendation based on guest preferences obtained through smart data insights from previous visits, you are really ahead of the game. A total of 79% of travellers that took part in a recent survey said they wanted to see more hotels adopting predictive room service in the next 30 years.
Smartphones make a hotel feel more like home
It’s true: the more hotels use guests’ homes as reference points when deciding what to include in hotel rooms, the more successful they’ll be at including the hotel technology guests actually want (and use!)
And where better to start than with a smartphone? 60% of consumers are more likely to choose a smartphone-enabled hotel. That’s why a number of hotels, especially in the Far East, are starting to introduce their own smartphones in every room. Not only does the phone include mobile apps the guest might find useful (such as a local restaurant booking app), it also lets guests turn on a ‘personal hotspot’, which they can then connect their own phones to. This, in turn, allows them to surf the internet while out and about without driving up any mobile service provider costs. Genius, if you ask us.
Other hotels have taken it upon themselves to develop their own hotel app, which guests can use to speed up the check-in/check-out process, make payments or use as an in-house messaging tool. Some hotels have even added a list of their top local attractions prior to the stay based on guest preferences. Is there even a better way to provide personalised guest services?
Hotel guest technology in 2020
The hotel industry is growing at an ever increasing pace and getting more competitive every year, and 2020 is no different. That’s why improving guest experiences according to hotel technology trends is so crucial for businesses.
At HotelREZ, we work with more than 1,500 hotels in over 100 countries to ensure they are growing their business in line with key industry trends. By providing quality distribution, representation, marketing and consultancy services, we help our members receive more bookings and increase revenue year on year.
HotelREZ Hotels & Resorts was founded in 2004 by Mark Lewis, an experienced hospitality industry professional and entrepreneur. Over the course of over a decade, the company has grown to be one of the leading hotel representation companies dedicated to marketing and connecting independent properties with bookers worldwide. HotelREZ now provides distribution, revenue, sales consultancy and marketing services and support to more than 1,500 hotels, apartments and hotel groups in over 100 countries including private label GDS chain code solutions. HotelREZ Hotels & Resorts is a SAAS company.
HotelREZ manages the brand Best Loved Hotels, a collection of unique global individual properties, with a dedicated GDS Programme, together with a Website and printed Directory, aimed at the high-end leisure agency and traveller. HotelREZ also incorporates the global World Rainbow hotels, the world’s only GDS enabled LGBT global hotel consortia representing some 1200 hotels in 230 destinations across the globe.