Now that the dust has settled on 2018, our attention naturally shifts to what the year ahead will bring for the hospitality industry; what are the digital trends we simply can’t afford to ignore?
Unlocking the true value of data
Data as a commodity has never been more valuable. The introduction of the GDPR has only compounded this and as an industry we are beginning to realise that it’s a privilege, rather than a right, to hold the data of our guests.
Of course, this data is useful in a number of ways, but it’s the increasing role it plays within the personalisation of a guest’s experience that is of most interest, creating more memorable stays while maximising yield.
The growth of video
Guests have begun to expect that a luxury hotel will have commissioned a video to introduce their property. It’s rapidly become an additional layer of service transparency and they may question the lack of inclusion for those without.
Add to this the rocketing increase in popularity of live video on platforms like YouTube, Facebook and Instagram; 80% of us now prefer to watch a live video from a brand rather than read a blog.
Gathering digital influence
Strong reputation management continues to be vital for hoteliers, with guests holding ever increasing sway, especially on social networks.
Influencer marketing continues to grow in popularity and can be very effective, provided you avoid the pitfall of evaluating a potential partner based upon social following alone – engagement remains a vital measure of their value.
A responsive website isn’t enough
2019 could well be the first year that isn’t touted as ‘the year of the smartphone’, with focus shifting to smart technologies, AI and voice. However, smartphone usage continues to grow and influence the way that we do business.
This year saw Google introduce mobile first indexing and an increased focus on AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) to improve the way content is delivered on smartphones.
Of course, it’s now the default to build websites responsively with a ‘mobile-first’ approach, but more-so, it’s no longer about making sure a page simply displays OK on mobile, it’s ensuring the complete user journey throughout your mobile offering is as smooth as possible.
A race we cannot afford to lose
OTAs got the jump on hoteliers many moons ago because they were more agile, quickly integrating technology into their businesses to gain advantage. As technology evolves ever further and the likes of AI, voice and blockchain become more mainstream, the message is clear; hoteliers cannot fall behind again.
Accor’s acquisition behaviour over the last few years is prime example, looking beyond hotels to alternative accommodation providers and technology businesses.
The pendulum shift may not quite be swinging towards hoteliers, but there’s an increasing wealth of tools and technologies in the hotelier’s playbook that should result in hoteliers being more informed and empowered in 2019.
While we as an agency are big advocates of using benchmarking to better understand your hotel’s performance relative to the industry, it’s vital that we use that data productively and don’t let it limit us. Collectively, we must all aspire to be better than the benchmarks.
Data fuelling creativity
Finally, it’s important to remember that every year the Internet becomes more saturated with marketing messaging, making it increasingly challenging for a brand to stand out.
It’s vital that, as an industry, we focus on delivering genuinely creative campaigns, fuelled by steadfast insight and a true understanding of our audience. Our guests are better educated on just how much we know about them and it’s time that we use that knowledge to deliver real value.
Now is the time for hoteliers to innovate and use all the tools, agencies and partners at their disposal to drive the industry forward.