By Jason Lewis, VP Sales – EMEA, SiteMinder
From the latest in wearable technology to the rise of the socially-connected traveller, new travel trends are taking the hotel industry by storm.
To stay relevant in today’s ever-changing marketplace, hoteliers need to be across the latest crazes and developments. Here are 5 emerging trends from this year’s WTM Global Trends Report that you won’t be able to ignore in 2015 and beyond.
1. Wearable electronics and mobile
Riding on the heels of the smart phone revolution, wearable technology will become an increasingly important tool for travellers making bookings and receiving notifications in the years ahead. According to predictions by IHS Electronics and Media, the market for wearable devices could reach a whopping US$60 billion by 2018.
Currently, the mobile booking market is valued at US$25.8 billion (representing 8% of the total travel market) and expected to reach 35% of all online travel bookings by 2018. The challenge for hoteliers will be to create platforms that can seamlessly integrate customer experience across different devices, including the new wearables, which are poised to overtake smart phone technology in the years ahead.
2. “Poshtels” replacing hostels
To attract the cost-conscious, style-seeking consumer, hostels are looking to glamourise their properties to better compete with boutique hotels. According the WTM Global Trends Report 2014, many hostels are now converting to “poshtels”, which emphasise “modern and luxurious design with high-tech facilities, offering restaurants, twin en-suite rooms, free Wi-Fi and breakfast”. This format is gaining popularly with younger travellers, families and even business travellers.
Some examples of poshtels include the Hostel Casa Gracia in Barcelona and the Plus Berlin, which offer unique and personal experiences for travellers who want more than the usual backpacker. The operators who find success in this segment will be those who can offer a more luxurious experience while maintaining low operating costs.
3. Hotels and social media sharing
Did you know:
- 70% of social media users post status updates while on holiday
- 76% of travellers post vacation photos on social media
- 52% use social media to help plan a trip
- 1 out of 3 U.S. travellers uses social media as a source of travel inspiration
- 80% of travellers are more likely to book a trip from a friend liking a page than Facebook advertising?
When you consider social media statistics like these, it’s no wonder savvy hotels are integrating social media sharing as part of their marketing strategies. Many brands, such as the Marriott and Kimpton Hotel, are encouraging guests to share photos and interact with their social media channels in exchange for rewards and perks. It’s a win-win for all parties.
4. Growth in Asia Pacific travel
According to a joint report by TripAdvisor and The Boston Consulting Group, by the year 2030:
- More than 50% of the growth in global traffic will come from the Asia Pacific
- 49% of all passenger traffic globally will be within the Asia Pacific or between that region and the rest of the world
- Chinese travellers will account for about 40% of Asian outbound travellers
- China is likely to overtake the U.S. as the world’s largest domestic travel market.
Additionally, “Asia Pacific is expected to drive global growth in online travel, with its online travel sales set to double from US$90 billion in 2013 to US$180 billion in 2018”, according to predictions by the WTM Global Trends Report 2014.
Hotel operators therefore need to better understand and reach the Asia Pacific traveller. This includes looking at where they’re traveling from, the best channels and technology on which to reach them, what motivates their travel choices, and how to cater to their preferences and needs.
5. Multi-channel distribution is the key to success
The diversification of hotel distribution channels has given hotel operators greater choice and opportunities than ever before. Hotels need a distribution strategy that considers all traditional and emerging channels – including OTAs and branded internet booking engines, as well as systems that allow customers to book directly from their mobile devices or social media sites.
As you look to these trends to guide you, the key is to leverage a variety of channels – social, mobile, website, email and search – to communicate with customers, build loyalty with incentives and perks, and encourage them to book directly using the right channels and technology.