The hotel industry has been criticized for its sluggishness in catering to tech-savvy travelers. The airline industry, by comparison, provides traveling guests with the ability to check-in, select seats, order in-flight meals and choose a baggage check-in option all from their mobile devices. Meanwhile, the hotel industry has been slow to provide guests with similarly convenient options.
However, all is not lost! Here are five emerging trends in the hotel industry:
1. Guests want more mobile accessibility
Mobile accessibility is one of the biggest gripes among travelers looking for a place to stay during their trips. According to Business 2 Community, more than 50 percent of the all U.S. adults have a smartphone and 76 percent of millennials say they rely on their mobile devices to find information. In addition to mobile-friendly browsing for hotel rooms, the most common function hotels are looking into is the ability to easily make reservations from a customer’s smartphone. To take it one step further, guests are asking for the ability to add preferences to their rooms before they check in. Consumers want to book rooms, restaurant, and spa reservations with their phones. They want to gain mobile entry into their rooms. They also want quick and painless check outs. Other requests include: confirmation texts pre-arrival, easy map and GPS apps for local attractions and rewards programs.
2. Guests want health-conscious hotels
Healthy hotels have a focus on wellness, health and sustainability. More travelers are requesting healthier grab-and-go food options, access to gyms and fitness classes, sleep-offerings and spas. Many travelers are more enticed to stay at health properties. Last year, MGM Grand in Las Vegas found success with its “wellness rooms,” and they are now tripling the number of rooms to accommodate demand. Some hotels, such as the Wyndham Hotels and Omni Hotels, strive to appeal to fitness-conscious guests by offering workout clothes and shoes on loan, fitness kits or rooms with fitness equipment. Yoga classes are becoming a more common offering for guests as well.
3. Hotels are investing more in technology that matters
In addition to promoting a more green and sustainable stay for guests, hotels are upgrading their out-dated appliances and outlets to accommodate the tech-savvy traveler. Amenities such as universal charging docks, all-in-one tablets for room functions and concierge services, and even tablet surveys to collect feedback. While upgraded amenities are a step in the right direction, it is only the beginning. Hotels are encouraged to find ways to make it easier for hotel guests to get what they want through mobile devices. With limited budgets, hotels must make smart investments in technology that will improve the guest experience and sustain repeat business. There is such a thing as unnecessary technological frills customers don’t need or want.
4. Sustainability is a meaningful initiative
Sustainability is appealing to both guests and hotel management for different reasons. Hotel guests would rather support a hotel that is environmentally friendly and green. People are actually more willing to participate and, for example, have sheets and towels changed less often or participate in recycling programs. Hotels that are willing to decrease their carbon footprint can start to see large savings when they invest in energy-friendly light bulbs, water efficient shower heads and toilets, and energy-saving climate control systems. The investment in a greener hotel is beneficial in the long run.
5. Guests crave social media engagement
Social media engagement is still a powerful tool hotels need to take advantage of. According to the Aberdeen Group, 70 percent of businesses believe social media will become a part of the customer service programs. eMarketer also reported the number of U.S. mobile social network users will increase from 58.8 percent in 2012 to 79.1 percent next year. Hotel guests are craving engagement via Twitter and Facebook. Hotel empires such as Starwood Hotels and Resorts (which owns the W Hotels) is recognized for responding to guest complaints and informing guest services. They are also recognized for engaging guests through Foursquare and allowing guests to post honest reviews on tripadvisor.com. Other ways hotels are engaging is with Instagram, retweeting photos and posts and offering insider deals, offers, and contests. Since social media plays a part in influencing where guests chose to stay, social engagement is a no-brainer for hotels.
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Jason Barge is a marketing manager at LRS and an expert in communications for the hospitality industry.