Airlines in the 21st century continue to play out a dogfight in the skies with incredibly low fares and a myriad of value adds for their premium customers - so too for the travel players on the ground, the hotels, which are implementing trends that make for good times, for the business traveller.
More choice than ever
Unprecedented choice of accommodation and ground transport products is now a staple in the business travel environment. Greater choice shines the spotlight firmly on what expert knowledge and value a corporate travel consultant can bring to the business relationship. Transactional service has given way to a more empathetic service. With a strong focus on truly understanding individual customers needs, corporate travel consultants now offer the widest range of hotel and ground transport choices, ranging from client negotiated hotel programs to low-cost last minute options.
Stays becoming more personalised
Hotels are increasingly positioning themselves as destinations, offering more personalised experiences for each guest, rather than ‘just a room’. A hotel’s ability to know their guest will become the strongest deal breaker for guest loyalty.
Loyalty and status will remain a strong influencing decision factor in 2017, with guests preferring to stay in properties that reward repeat visits. Hotels will pursue their loyalty customers more aggressively through bonus points, status matching and partnerships with associated businesses.
Demographic Influences - Millennials shaping service delivery
With their desire for hi-tech and hi-touch experiences at a good price, the highly mobile ‘Millennials’ (18 to 35 year olds) will continue to be the biggest influencers of hotel design and service delivery. 2017 will see a greater focus on technology advancements and digital marketing, with hotels using more social media and mobile and video technologies to shape the way they interact with this tech-savvy market.
And while the Millennials are transforming the hotel dynamic, the well-travelled ‘Road Warrior’ remains the largest travelling hotel market segment. 2020 should also see the rise of Generation Z – characterised by the speed with which they can process information. The challenge for the hotel industry will be to ensure it can still meet the needs of these very different markets, without compromising individual market share.
Product Enhancements - Smarter technology in smarter hotels
Mobile technology will see game-changing development in the hotel industry, offering seamless and empowering experiences for travellers by putting greater control and flexibility in the palm of their hands.
More hotel groups will implement technology that recognises a returning guest’s mobile device the moment they arrive, and instantly connects their phone to the hotel’s Wi-Fi. From here, the sky is the limit as guests will be able to use their mobile devices to check in and out, select and customise their rooms, and unlock their rooms – solutions already being offered by the likes of Hilton Worldwide.
Guests are now able to use their mobile devices to make virtual payments, access concierge, order room service, adjust room temperature and lights, and enjoy their own choice of video entertainment using Netflix, Apple TV or similar. Every detail of their room preference will be remembered and customised for their next visit.
Connectivity will continue to improve, with stronger Wi-Fi expected to find its way into the more mainstream hotels. Li-Fi technology is slowly being introduced enabling the transmission of 5G technology through lights, providing unprecedented connection speed in hotel rooms.
Greater investment in sustainability
There is significant growth in global hotel companies upping the ante oftheir corporate social responsibility. By way of example in 2016 in the US, 16 New York hotels have committed to lowering their greenhouse gas emissions by 30 per cent in the next decade. Other hotel companies have already made significant inroads, including Wyndham Worldwide, which recently hit its target – six years early – of reducing its operational carbon footprint by 20% by 2020.
Marriott International has been recognized by the Ethisphere Institute (a global leader in defining and advancing the standards of ethical business practices) as the 2017 World’s Most Ethical Company. Marriott has appeared on the list for 10 years and is one of only three in the lodging and hospitality industry underscoring the company’s commitment to leading ethical business standards and practices.
2017 is the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development, and is expected to be a transformative year for the introduction of sustainability and community-focused initiatives across the corporate travel industry.
Feature image courtesy of Getty.