As every new year begins, it’s inevitable a fresh wave of trends, or predicted trends at least, come with it. This is the case with most industries – but none more so than the travel world.
Given it’s such a dynamic space, encompassing many different businesses and products, the travel industry is ripe with forecasts for the year ahead. But how many are truly accurate? Across the Internet you’ll find countless lists determining what hoteliers and hospitality businesses should look out for in the next 12 months. Some of them are obvious, some are brave, and some are questionable.
Here the five travel and hotel predictions we found most interesting and our take on them.
Millennials will assert their dominance within the travel market
Reports, in the US at least, suggest millennials will soon form the majority of the workforce. On that basis it’s also believed they’ll extend their influence to the travel market. Given millennials see culture and travel as a large part of their identity, it’s a safe assumption to make.
SiteMinder says: Talk of the growing millennial market is certainly not breaking news to anyone but has this trend already fulfilled its potential? We believe this statement had far more relevance in the past five years than it does in the coming five. For us 2018-19 could be more about capturing senior travellers, with indications they’re set to be the world’s fastest growing market. In fact, many travel agencies are playing exclusively in this area, while others such as Wotif are currently promoting senior travel.
Hoteliers should think about turning their efforts towards understanding the motivations of this older segment.
Will millennials remain the largest travel market segment in 2017?
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International travellers will make up a bigger share of your guests
The global economy is said to be very healthy right now, with particular growth in reported China and Southeast Asia, and the US. It makes sense then, that international travel should see a boost in turn.
SiteMinder says: While this is a broad and somewhat easier statement to make than some other predictions, it’s likely you’ll see this covered extensively in most publications. We believe it’s certainly the case for hotels in the United Kingdom to see an increase in international guests, but for everywhere else it’s largely dependant on the region’s global appeal. It’s imperative for hoteliers to take the time to carefully look into the data for their specific region. Where are these guests arriving from? This seems like a simple question but it’s a crucial one to ask. To accurately market and provide quality experiences, it’s important to assess all the information you have available to you.
Chatbots will become a regular part of a hotel’s service
Some hotel brands have already launched Chatbots, and even gone so far as to incorporate AI bots into their customer service management. It’s certainly a popular trend but is it a novelty that will wear off once the technology is no longer new, or is it a lasting method for better engagement with guests?
SiteMinder says: This is likely to be right on the money. We anticipate that chatbots and text messaging will become an increasingly integrated part of the guest experience. With the uptake of voice-activated technology used by Apple, Amazon, and Google throughout 2017, chatbots could also soon be integrated to create an even more seamless searching and booking journey. Accommodation providers that offer a seamless, informative, welcoming shop and search experience are going to see the benefits of increased conversions and revenue.
Local services will be a key offering from hotels to guests
Hotel guests don’t travel to a hotel simply for that pleasure. They want to experience as much of their destination as possible, and it can only be in the hotels favour if they help a guest do this. But as AccorHotels has done, it’s also a chance to profit from non-guests.
SiteMinder says: While it may not be the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of industry forecasts, it could be one of the most important. In its basic form, it allows hoteliers the ability to promote surrounding services to their guests, but also their hospitality services to non-guests. Offerings can include bouquet deliveries, yoga or other fitness classes provided on-site, food deliveries, or pay-by-the-hour car rental services. Accommodation-sharing platforms like Airbnb place a huge emphasis on local experiences. If hotels can be hosted on Airbnb, via a partnership such as the one SiteMinder and Airbnb just announced, it could significantly improve their revenue opportunities.
Environmentally conscious hotels will have an increasing advantage
As travellers increasingly look to derive meaning from their travel, spending money on hotels that are aware of, and support, the local environment is seen as one avenue to do this. Even back in 2014 this was apparent in the attitudes of travellers, who were willing to pay more for a sustainable hotel.
SiteMinder says: There’s no doubting the increasing awareness around environmentalism among travellers. More than ever, eco-conscious travellers are searching for authentic experiences that leave a positive impact on the surrounding area, rather than a negative one. It’s going to be a lasting demand from global travellers so hotels should make efforts to improve their sustainability, for the benefit of the environment and their guests’ peace of mind.