The future of hospitality is not necessarily a bleak one, but certainly an environment of change. Globally, there is a weakening demand for hotels yet a steady increase in competition. PwC Hospitality Directions predicted the lodging supply growth to accelerate to 1.9% in 2017, approaching the long-term average of 2.0%, for the first time since 2009 when supply increased at a faster pace than the long-term average.
With Ernst & Young predicting the RevPAR growth rates to be near their lowest level this year since 2010, how can hotels get ahead of the game?
The best way a hotel can win is by getting innovative and implementing new ideas at a quicker pace than its competitors by using data and increasing guest satisfaction.
Increase guest satisfaction and reviews
The hotel industry has always known that pleasing the customer is key to building a strong business. However, the advent of the internet, specifically the ability to publicly review and comment on an experience, has made guest satisfaction more important than ever. According to the 2016 TripBarometer report, online reviews is second to price as the most important decision-making factor when booking accommodation.
The impact of online reviews is something that can’t be ignored. Almost two years ago, Cornell University’s Center for Hospitality Research found that for each increased percentage point in TripAdvisor, RevPAR increases by a corresponding 1.4%. More recently, our partners have seen an increase of .31 in review ratings after handy launched, translating to an average increase of 3.4% in RevPAR.
Understand your guests through data
With the rise of technology, access to travelers’ behavioral data including interests is readily available. Hotels that understand how to utilize this data will stay ahead of the competition and create satisfying experiences for the guest.
Each traveler is unique. By understanding each guest’s situation, hotels can provide a service tailored for their stay. For example, the marketing department can leverage analytics to understand guests’ purpose for traveling, determine their expectations of their time at the hotel, reveal their likelihood to respond to promotions, or offer them exclusive deals.
The anonymized behavioral data is also hugely beneficial for revamping loyalty programs and engagement programs, which will, in turn, create long-term relationships and increase guest loyalty.
Ensuring rewards and programs offered are relevant to guests is essential. Over 20% of respondents of the Oracle Hospitality study said that not finding the offered rewards interesting is why they do not join a loyalty program. By leveraging the available data to create experiences and programs they know their guests want, hotels can differentiate themselves from their competitors by offering personalized experiences and rewards.
What this means for hotels
Hotels can choose to either watch the hospitality industry change or evolve with it. To stay ahead of competitors in the current market, timing is just as important as utilizing the data and customer satisfaction. Hotels should start to analyze the data that is available and how they can use this to improve their current offering. For hotels who don’t have the expertise or technology, start by working with an expert partner to gather information about your guests wants, needs and preferences.
Being the first hotel to implement new ideas will not only help to uplift RevPAR this year but also increase customer satisfaction and create long-lasting relationships with guests.