The hotel industry is going through a period of unprecedented, irreversible change and will look very different in 2020 than it does today.
Digital technologies are shifting the balance of power towards the consumer. At the same time, consumers are changing. Over the next few years, we will see ‘millennials’ – digital natives who bring a strong desire for local, ‘authentic’ experiences – becoming the primary consumer market.
Digitally enabled guests expect hotels to give them ever more personalised services. With millennials as a key target segment, personalisation will grow hugely over the next few years. Hotels will need to personalise services from guests’ booking experience to their in‐room preferences around lighting, temperature and refreshments. Hoteliers that can deliver effective mobile‐centric personalisation will become brands of choice. Hotels also will need to use mobile to personalise not just the immediate hotel environment, but also guests’ overall experience of the destination (including information about the coolest local places to go, so you can try and localise your stay).
The obvious starting point is user‐ friendly apps that enable mobile check‐in and room selection. 46% of millennials agree that being able to check in/out using a mobile device would motivate them to return. Apps that allow guests to input preferences about room temperature or what type of bed they need. And when a guest passes a restaurant or retail outlet, a promotional offer or video can be delivered to them directly through mobile app.
Taking a new approach to data and talent
Almost 90% of enterprises across sectors believe that data analytics will redefine their industry by 2017. Yet we believe that most hotels are moving too slowly or are simply not ready for the era of digital, data‐centric business. As such, they risk being left behind. In particular, they must think about the talent they will need: data scientists, sensor specialists, social media experts and more.
30% of global hoteliers plan to hire staff specifically for social media.
Talent recruitment is not the only priority for hotels – they should also rethink their internal training activity. Unfortunately, the people with the most contact with guests are usually the lowest paid. The person behind the desk doesn’t have the training to mine data, so it’s going to be a challenge to make that data readily available to them in a way that enables personalisation. Over the next few years, hotels will need to focus on up‐skilling these employees, and on translating complex back‐office data analytics into user‐friendly systems that will enable front‐of‐ house staff to personalise guests’ experience.
Keeping the brand relevant
Travellers and commercial bookers already rely heavily on online travel agencies (OTAs) and meta‐search engines. Hotel brands are less visible during the booking process than they used to be. In 2020, we believe the smart hotels will find new ways to use their brand messaging, and the distinct experiences they provide, to connect with individual consumer segments. First, they need to truly understand what their customers are seeking. Then they need to adapt their business to meet those needs.
Hotels will need to create content that is meaningful for their guests to maintain brand identifiable and unique touch-points in a digital age. Hotels need to learn to talk to their customers through mobile, social media and online channels more effectively.
Today’s ‘wait and see’ strategy is not a solution for hotels that wish to remain competitive in 2020. Like it or not, alternative business models will take root – even if they are more tightly regulated.
Original source: «Hotels 2020: Welcoming tomorrow´s guests».