The fu­ture of tech­nol­ogy, con­tent and the ho­tel guest ex­pe­ri­ence

Global me­dia dis­tri­bu­tion and con­sump­tion in lux­ury ho­tels

The Insider - - BUSINESS -

To ad­dress one of the strate­gic pri­or­i­ties of the guest ex­pe­ri­ence — ac­cess to qual­ity con­tent (e.g. news­pa­pers and mag­a­zines) — PressReader part­nered with Forbes Travel Guide to sur­vey ex­ec­u­tives of ho­tels from around the world to gain in­sights into their plans for the fu­ture. Here are some of the high­lights:

Ac­cord­ing to Ben Pea­cock, founder of the sus­tain­abil­ity and in­no­va­tion com­pany Repub­lic of Every­one, mil­len­ni­als pri­or­i­tize pur­pose and sus­tain­abil­ity over fi­nan­cial re­wards, “if com­pa­nies fail to prove that they are sin­cere about en­vi­ron­men­tal and so­cial sus­tain­abil­ity, they risk alien­at­ing this group both as cus­tomers and em­ploy­ees.” So the move by ho­tels to be more sus­tain­able is no sur­prise.

Per­haps it’s be­cause too many book­ings are be­ing done through third-party On­line Travel Agen­cies (OTA) th­ese days — book­ings that take rev­enue away from hote­liers and block ac­cess to those guests’ con­tact in­for­ma­tion. But that shouldn’t stop ho­tel ex­ec­u­tives from em­brac­ing the op­por­tu­ni­ties that do ex­ist (see page 96 for more on this).

Ac­cord­ing to Deloitte’s 2017 Travel and Hos­pi­tal­ity In­dus­try Out­look re­port, the eco­nomic fun­da­men­tals for con­sumer spend­ing are strong for this com­ing year, par­tic­u­larly in the ser­vice sec­tor, which bodes well for ho­tels.

But, al­though the fu­ture looks bright for the travel in­dus­try, there are forces at play that con­tinue to im­pact the land­scape, in­clud­ing a fren­zied pace of change in tech­nol­ogy, con­sumer be­hav­ior and con­tent con­sump­tion.

Changes in tech­nol­ogy

Smart mo­bile tech­nol­ogy hasn’t been around all that long, but it’s al­ready be­come as com­mon as a tooth­brush in our ev­ery­day lives.

For the ma­jor­ity of the US pop­u­la­tion, a smart­phone is no longer a con­ve­nient lux­ury item, it’s an in­te­gral part of their daily lives — some­thing they can’t seem to keep their hands off.

So it’s no won­der that a qual­ity mo­bile ex­pe­ri­ence is im­per­a­tive when guests com­mu­ni­cate with ho­tels, and of­ten a fac­tor in their book­ing de­ci­sions. From mo­bile keys and room con­trols, to apps, lo­ca­tion-based deals and con­tent, mo­bile plays a crit­i­cal role in the cre­ation of a per­son­al­ized guest ex­pe­ri­ence.

Con­sumer-cen­tric tech­nol­ogy ag­gre­ga­tors such as Airbnb, HOMEAWAY and other OTAs learned this les­son quickly, be­com­ing early adopters of mo­bile. Which is one rea­son they con­tinue to take mar­ket share away from in­cum­bent brands, re­defin­ing what con­sumers ex­pect from lodg­ing providers.

Pri­vate ac­com­mo­da­tions now ac­count for close to one fifth of the en­tire Ho­tel, Lodg­ing and Pri­vate Ac­com­mo­da­tion (HLPA) mar­ket, with book­ings grow­ing at a faster rate than ho­tels.

But pri­vate ac­com­mo­da­tion ser­vices don’t stop there. Users of Airbnb can now book ac­tiv­i­ties at the des­ti­na­tion through Airbnb’s Trips fea­ture. Not only does this open up new rev­enue op­por­tu­ni­ties for the 3rd largest pri­vate ac­com­mo­da­tion com­pany, it pro­vides vis­i­bil­ity into the guests’ travel jour­ney, pref­er­ences and be­hav­iors — data that is the holy grail of de­liv­er­ing a per­son­al­ized cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence. So it’s no won­der that in a re­cent sur­vey by Hos­pi­tal­ity Tech­nol­ogy, 52% of ho­tel op­er­a­tors said that im­prov­ing their dig­i­tal cus­tomer en­gage­ment is a strate­gic pri­or­ity for them in 2017.

Changes in con­sumer be­hav­ior

For over a cen­tury, no change in so­ci­ety has been as im­pact­ful as the rise of the Mil­len­nial gen­er­a­tion. More di­verse than any de­mo­graphic that pre­ceded them, GenYs ex­ceeded the pop­u­la­tion of baby boomers in 2015 and are poised to re­shape the econ­omy as they en­ter their prime spend­ing years.

Th­ese dig­i­tal na­tives have been called many things (nar­cis­sis­tic, cheap, cyn­i­cal and lazy) and have frus­trated busi­nesses as they try to un­der­stand how the “Me Gen­er­a­tion” ticks. It is a se­ri­ous chal­lenge, be­cause no two Mil­len­ni­als are cre­ated equal — a fact that ex­as­per­ates busi­nesses that still rely on de­mo­graphic seg­men­ta­tion to at­tract Mil­len­ni­als’ tril­lions of dol­lars’ worth of spend­ing power.

But th­ese tech-savvy con­sumers do have a num­ber of char­ac­ter­is­tics in com­mon. Well­ness and on-de­mand ac­cess are very im­por­tant to them and they pre­fer pay­ing for ex­pe­ri­ences over buy­ing things. Their unique pre­dis­po­si­tions fu­eled the growth in the Shar­ing and Ex­pe­ri­ence Economies — eco­nomic trends that have had a di­rect im­pact on the ho­tel in­dus­try.

So it’s no sur­prise that Amer­ica’s first dig­i­tal gen­er­a­tion makes up 66% of Airbnb app users and are play­ing a key role in trans­form­ing, driv­ing growth in, and re­defin­ing cus­tomer ser­vice in the US$1.3 tril­lion travel in­dus­try.

Changes in con­tent con­sump­tion

In 1927 the Ho­tel Statler in Bos­ton be­came one of the first to of­fer com­pli­men­tary news­pa­pers to its guests. Since then, most other ver­ti­cals in the lux­ury travel in­dus­try from ho­tels, to air­lines and cruise ships fol­lowed suit be­cause they wanted to:

• Dif­fer­en­ti­ate and en­hance their brand

• En­rich the guest ex­pe­ri­ence

• En­cour­age trav­el­ers to stay on­site rather than go out to look for a news­pa­per

• Al­low vis­i­tors to keep in touch with what is hap­pen­ing “back home”

• Keep busi­ness clients con­nected with im­por­tant busi­ness news

But when the in­ter­net took off two decades ago and more and more peo­ple started get­ting news on­line, the sin­gle source of printed news out­side rooms be­came ir­rel­e­vant to many guests.

Mar­riott Chair­man and CEO J.W. Mar­riott, Jr. who in 2009 gave guests the choice of re­ceiv­ing a news­pa­per or not said, “I visit more than 250 ho­tels a year, and more of­ten than not, I’m step­ping over un­claimed news­pa­pers as I walk down the hall­way.”

To­day, many ho­tel chains who are look­ing to up­grade to a more rel­e­vant news ser­vice for their guests are first ask­ing them­selves, “Is main­stream me­dia still an in­te­gral part of the guest ex­pe­ri­ence?” Well, if Forbes Travel Guide’s 5-star ho­tel cri­te­ria that in­cludes, “the choice of at least two com­pli­men­tary news­pa­pers is of­fered and” (in­clud­ing dig­i­tal), is any in­di­ca­tion, then the an­swer ap­pears to be, “yes!”

We’ve all heard about the doom and gloom in to­day’s me­dia busi­ness with plum­met­ing ad­ver­tis­ing rev­enues and de­clines in print cir­cu­la­tion, but the truth is:

• Peo­ple across all de­mo­graph­ics value high qual­ity con­tent and those who use news apps (which are on the rise) spend even more time con­sum­ing news

• They’re just not will­ing to pay for it

• 89% of the U.S. adult mo­bile pop­u­la­tion ac­cess news via their mo­bile de­vice, pre­fer­ring to spend that time on “hard” news about cur­rent events and global news, as op­posed to weather re­ports and other forms of “soft” news.

• Long-form jour­nal­ism (typ­i­cally found in news­pa­pers and mag­a­zines) re­ceives more views and shares, and en­gages read­ers more, than other ar­ti­cle forms.

• And de­spite what one hears about the grow­ing mis­trust in mass me­dia, trust in news­pa­pers is ac­tu­ally strong across all age groups.

Mean­while, loy­alty in mag­a­zines re­mains high be­cause of the qual­ity of the ed­i­to­rial and even the ad­ver­tis­ing — of­ten at­trib­uted to the “Vogue Ef­fect.”

Bet­ter to give and re­ceive

If ever there was a time for the lux­ury travel in­dus­try to cap­i­tal­ize on the changes in tech­nol­ogy, con­sumer be­hav­iors and con­tent con­sump­tion for a more prof­itable fu­ture, it is now. Ev­ery day, new op­por­tu­ni­ties are open­ing up to grow loy­alty with con­nected con­sumers by of­fer­ing a su­pe­rior cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence along ev­ery touch­point in the guest jour­ney.

Hav­ing a guest stay in your es­tab­lish­ment is the warm­est lead you’ll ever get and there are many ways to con­nect and sus­tain a long-term re­la­tion­ship with them long af­ter their reser­va­tion ended.

Thousands of ho­tels are al­ready do­ing this by of­fer­ing pre­mium con­tent that:

• Drives pos­i­tive brand ex­pe­ri­ences across nu­mer­ous cus­tomer touch­points, pre-, dur­ing and post-stays

• In­te­grates qual­ity con­tent into their mar­ket­ing pipe­lines, in­clud­ing loy­alty pro­grams, so­cial me­dia, email, ad­ver­tis­ing, and crosspro­mo­tional part­ner­ships with pub­lish­ers

• De­liv­ers higher lev­els of per­son­al­iza­tion based on who cus­tomers are, where they live, where they travel and their me­dia in­ter­ests

Stud­ies have shown that when peo­ple re­ceive a free gift, they re­spond in a num­ber of dif­fer­ent, of­ten un­con­scious ways. Most feel a real sense of in­debt­ed­ness to­wards the giver — a re­ac­tion coined as the rec­i­proc­ity prin­ci­ple.

Ho­tels that have been giv­ing com­pli­men­tary news­pa­pers and mag­a­zines to guests for decades un­der­stand the power of rec­i­proc­ity. But those gifts were lim­ited to cus­tomers al­ready stay­ing with them. Imag­ine giv­ing a guest a dig­i­tal copy of Vogue Paris af­ter she stays at your ho­tel, with a mes­sage like “we no­ticed you love this magazine, so here’s next month’s is­sue, on us.” This is a pow­er­ful way to en­gage guests post-stay and deepen their re­la­tion­ship with your brand in a way that:

• En­hances aware­ness for your brand

• Gen­er­ates good will, turn­ing past guests into brand cham­pi­ons

• Strength­ens your affin­ity with pre­mium pub­lish­ing brands

• En­ables you to fol­low, con­nect and en­gage with guests through your own branded con­tent chan­nel long af­ter they’ve checked out

PressReader of­fers your guests un­lim­ited ac­cess to more than 6,000 of the world’s best news­pa­pers and mag­a­zines. Want to know more? Let’s talk.


One of the most sur­pris­ing re­sults of the sur­vey was the low pri­or­ity given to post-stay en­gage­ment.

Source: Pho­cuswright

Mo­bile sub­scrip­tions out­num­ber the world’s pop­u­la­tion

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