The hospitality business is tough. You are not selling a product but experiences. Make a mistake and you might read a dreadful online review: “Never again at that hotel.”
As a leader in the hospitality industry, you know what`s at stake. Your revenues. Your business. Your reputation.
But there`s a way to prevent that. Study your customers` expectations. What is their definition of an excellent hotel experience? How is this definition changing?
We reviewed the latest research publications on the subject to help you do just that. Here`s what you need to know:
Who are the modern hospitality customers?
The modern hospitality customers have high demands. They know what they want and they want it now.
Hospitality consumers do their purchases online. They value their time and are the first to abandon a complicated-looking website. They want to find the information they`re looking for straight away and are not afraid to ask for additional instructions.
Hospitality and travel guests expect from hotels the same innovation delivered by brands they use in their daily lives. Deloitte`s research into the hospitality and travel industry found that:
“Everyday brands such as Amazon, Starbucks, and Seamless, however, showcase their innovation and services to their customers often—sometimes daily. Many of these brands are leading on the customer experience front and setting the bar high for consumers’ brand expectations.”
In other words, the highly technological and fast solutions offered by other brands are the new normal. The travel and hospitality sector has to adopt them to keep up with customers` expectations.
Hospitality customers` expectations: the latest trends
You might be wondering: what are the top industry trends that shape the expectations and preferences of hospitality customers? Here`s what researchers found after analyzing the data:
Consumers prefer self-services like chatbots and automated chat dialogs. Forrester Research published a customer service trend report stating:
“Customers of all ages are moving away from using the phone to using self-service—web and mobile self-service, communities, virtual agents, automated chat dialogs, or chatbots—as a first point of contact with a company.”
Consumers hate waiting. This trend is driven in part by the growing mobile phone use and the rise of the Internet that preceded it.
In fact, mobile use keeps on growing across many sectors. But a study published by EyeforTravel concluded that consumers prefer doing their travel bookings on a desktop due to security reasons. Usually, users start their research on mobile but make the actual purchase on a desktop. Nevertheless, the report predicts that more and more purchases will be made via smartphones.
Nowadays, customers expect more sophisticated services. Why? They are becoming used to it due to the recent advances in technology and the service they receive in other sectors. Smart devices are a trend. Even bed sheets and towels are more intelligent now. Some hotel properties equip them with radio frequency identification devices (RFID) to help hotel managers know when a guest needs service.
81% of hospitality customers who use a travel booking site say that reviews impact their decisions. But there`s more. 49% of travel booking site users won`t book a room without checking the online reviews, according to the Internet Travel & Hotel Booking Statistics.
Hospitality customers’ expectations are impacted by the latest technological trends. For this reason, it`s important to invest in delivering smart and personalized experiences to every guest across every channel.
Researchers in the field recommend that hospitality leaders should craft a strategic approach to implementing the necessary technologies to answer the customers` expectations. Last but not least, it will also help you stay a step ahead of your rivals. And we all know it`s important in such a competitive sector.