From Baby Boomers to Generation Z, travelers of all ages are turning to their smartphones and becoming more tech-savvy when traveling. The more technologically adept travelers become, the higher standards and expectations they have during their travel experiences. Thus, hotel groups are starting to change their hotel offerings, experiences, loyalty programs, business strategies to accommodate the needs of their guests, while maintaining the right level of human touch.
Travelers have become more demanding when it comes to their technology-forward travel experiences, according to this article. Companies are now adopting technology platforms to keep up with their guests, including augmented or virtual reality, and AI-first technology. The article mentions that we are now in the experience economy where hotels and travel companies are no longer only competing with competitor brands, but with other industries such as retailers. As more hotels adopt new technology to satisfy the needs of their tech-savvy guests, new technology trends are emerging. This article highlights the mobile technology trends for 2019, including keyless entry, automation of services, mobile payment options, and even location-based services in larger hotels and resorts. There are even AI-powered smart concierge that enables technology to answer guests’ questions before they even ask them, as mentioned here.
As mentioned earlier, the experience economy has arrived and is changing the way hospitality players approach the market. The tech-savvy guests are also growing accustomed to personalized experiences from hotels, which forces hotels to operate with a retail approach. According to the article, “armed with guest data, physical space and local perspective, hoteliers are in a prime position to become the ultimate retailer.” The change in the industry is even being seen in distribution channels, as mentioned in this article. Attribute-based selling (ABS) is where hotels can sell individual attributes and add-ons to a hotel room. ABS has been a term associated with the airline industry for quite some time, and eventually moved into the hotel space. However, according to the author, ABS hasn’t had the effect on hotel revenues as the industry initially hoped for and he suggests that hotels focus on responding to guests’ needs instead.
Technology-forward experiences, personalization, perfect balance between technology and human touches, there’s a lot to keep in mind when operating a hotel business that depends on the wants and needs of its guests. The key to successfully accomplishing them all? Loyalty. Without customer loyalty, any business, hotels or not, will struggle. In this article, we learn that AI is the answer to shaping customer loyalty in five ways - personalizes the customer experience, improves communication, identifies what the customer loves, allows dynamic pricing, and offers unparalleled customer insights. Yes, AI will help your hotel build its customer loyalty program, but there is still the matter of the competition. The battle for increasing customer retention isn’t just affecting hotels, but larger tech companies in hospitality as well. With the recent strides Google Travel has been making to dominate the industry, other platforms are developing ways of improving their business strategy. As seen in this article, TripAdvisor has hinted at creating a loyalty program to its platform, in order to further engage their users with a more unique experience. Stay tuned to see what comes next in the fight for customer loyalty in hospitality!