As hard as it is to believe, 2016 is quickly drawing to a close. In an industry that moves so fast we must always be looking ahead towards the latest hotel and travel sector predictions.
This year provided some interesting developments, which we believe are likely to inform what happens in 2017.
Countless conversations revolved around technology and its continued impact on the travel and hotel industry, while mobile became bigger and new markets arrived. Here are some highlights:
- Japan took the bizarre initial step into a science fiction world, opening the world’s first robot hotel including an electronic porter to carry luggage and facial recognition to open your room door.
- Bleisure travel has enjoyed a boom, with hotels looking to exploit this emerging market as business travel expands.
- Millennials hit the road in a big way and hotels have had to tailor their marketing strategies accordingly to ensure they don’t miss out on such an important and valuable opportunity.
- This year saw more Chinese travellers making overseas trips, especially within Asia, recording much larger numbers than 2015.
- Mobile browsing and mobile booking are on the up (…and up!), with no signs of stopping anytime soon thanks to today’s society being seemingly more time-poor than ever.
- Online travel agents (OTAs) grow increasingly powerful but direct bookings are still considered a priority for hotels.
With this in mind, can we expect more of the same in 2017 for the global hotel sector? Will these travel trends remain on an upward spiral? Will any falter? And what new trends will emerge?
Let’s take a look…
2017 hotel and travel industry trend predictions
It’s highly likely that the emerging trends we’ve discovered in the past year or two will continue on the upward curve in 2017.
Online bookings look destined to shape the market, with OTAs ready to grow market share as hotels look to balance that with direct bookings.
Here’s the fine print…
1. OTAs vs direct bookings
Even though OTAs do enjoy as much as 52% of the market in the US and 70% of online bookings in Europe originated with an OTA search, there are signs direct bookings may rise in 2017. With a curb of rate parity clauses underway, direct bookings are predicted to rise in Europe. Phocuswright and SiteMinder report a 2% increase in France and 3% in Germany, while OTA bookings are presumed to fall by 2% and 4% respectively. Hotels can further bolster this growth by attracting guests with special rates, extras, and loyalty rewards.
2. Bleisure travel
Some say it’s one of the most exciting segments in the market right now – the business traveller who extends their stay to take in some sights and relax before they head home. Business travel saw solid growth in 2016 and it should continue, meaning hotels can target more of these types of guests. A common incentive for a guest to stay longer is offering them the same rate (or lower) on the weekend as they paid during their business trip, as well as tailoring amenities and services to suit their guests if the hotel is based in a metropolitan area.
3. Websites and content
Hotels are realising the importance of mobile and SEO-optimised websites as a top-three concern for the success of their business. It’s not just the beautiful, functional design and SEO that you get from a professional website builder which is important, the content you produce yourself is also vital. As Google continues to refine its search rankings, fresh, quality content will become even more important for hotels if they want to keep the eye of potential guests.
4. Social media
Just like the former, social media is becoming a huge consideration for hotels looking to attract guests and convert them into direct bookings. Traveller inspiration from social media is increasing with platforms like Instagram and Facebook as a quick and easy resource for people to get information and fuel the desire to travel. Hoteliers understand this could be a potentially very affordable way of driving global traffic to their property. A recent survey in Thailand had hotels list social media as the most important factor to consider for future investment.
Very soon, no hotel business will be able to survive with implementing the latest technology into their business strategy. Be it revenue management technology, channel management, booking engines, or websites, guests are expecting the best – and your competitors are using the best – so any hotel that falls behind will be left behind. Virtual technology looks to be the biggest mover, with many hotels now offering virtual tours to amplify the guest experience on the path to purchase. You can expect more of a hotel budget to go towards the latest releases in this sphere as travellers expect more and embrace the notion of exploring places they can’t physically reach and research in person. Other funky technology like voice responsive search and chatbots are in the works to make travel planning even easier in the future.
6. Apps and mobile
It goes without saying that mobile will develop a domination in booking behaviour before too long. An extension of that is mobile apps which are seeking to complement traditional travel agents and guides. Two extremely useful apps already available among many are Google’s ‘Trips’ and Booking.com’s ‘Experiences’. There’s no doubt 2017 will see an explosion of more of these, giving travellers simpler and faster ways to access information and organise their itineraries.
7. Domestic tourism
In the past, extravagant overseas journeys were all the rage but local travel is starting to turn it back around. Domestic tourism in the UK has been predicted to rise 25% in a four-year period by the time 2017 arrives. It’s a surge that will total £108 billion.
8. Global discrepancies
Some global markets are expected to perform better than others in 2017. The US market is predicted to grow six times faster than Europe, with a higher percentage of bookings made online. Chain hotels will see a three-times faster growth acceleration than independent hotels. However, savvy hoteliers can level the playing field by investing in technology solutions that will deliver better distribution, more bookings, real-time intelligence, and the flexibility to make smarter decisions.