In today’s digital age, hoteliers are forfeiting opportunities – and potentially revenue – by failing to offer guests the individualized experiences they are increasingly demanding, according to the results of a major survey of hoteliers and consumers just published by Oracle Hospitality and Phocuswright, a leading travel industry research firm.
Oracle commissioned Phocuswright to conduct the survey, which polled more than 2,700 U.S. and European travelers, to better understand technology’s impact on the hotel-guest experience and gain insight into making it a differentiator for winning new business. The study also weaves in the perspective of hoteliers, both chains and independents, to shed light on their technological pursuits and gauge alignment with consumers’ expectations.
Among the survey’s key findings, which addressed topics across the travel lifecycle, from planning to post-stay:
- Nearly two-thirds of U.S. guests said it was “very or extremely important” for hotels to continue investing in technology to enhance the guest experience.
- 94% of business travelers and 80% of leisure travelers value the ability to use their smartphones to request service and message hotel staff.
- Guests are comfortable sharing with hoteliers a fair amount of personal information – perhaps, more than previously presumed. For example, 71% would share information about food preferences/allergies, and 64% would share their entertainment preferences
- 62% of guests used non-hotel sources such as the Internet for dinner reservations and activity recommendations, bypassing the concierge from whom guests say they would prefer to get such assistance.
- 80% of business travelers returned to the same hotel for a vacation during the past 12 months.
Hoteliers are well aware of the competition they face to win the loyalty of guests. But the study’s many revelations point to one opportunity they may have overlooked and need to seize: Once travelers arrive in the lobby, their notion of a memorable experience can be shaped entirely by the deeds and words of hotel staff. And technology can play an integral role in helping them get the job done.
“Rather than worry that greater reliance on technology will erode the human aspect of hospitality, hoteliers need to embrace it for what it can be – an invaluable tool to better understand their guests and orchestrate stays that they will long remember,” said Jay Upchurch, Vice President, Oracle Hospitality. “Technology can address the industry’s dual challenge of operating efficiently at scale and simultaneously providing individualized service.”
The research report also provides hoteliers with several insights to deliver individualized service. One of the most important takeaways: Give guests greater control over their stay. Survey respondents expressed in a variety of ways their desire for autonomy, ranging from gaining the ability to select specific room locations to contacting staff on demand via smartphones. By deploying the right technology, hoteliers can facilitate many of these requests.
Indeed, in recent years, hoteliers have rushed to technology solutions, such as guest-facing apps, only to encounter a lukewarm reception for them. According to the survey, the problem isn’t with the app, but its capabilities. Guests want features that are integral to their hotel experience, such as enabling virtual check in/check out, keyless room access, and booking of activities and ticket purchasing. Furthermore, 73% expressed interest in downloading an app that automatically provides connection to hotel WiFi.
Perhaps, most importantly, the research underscores the importance of human connection in the hotel industry. And that it can only be enhanced, not replaced, with technology. For example, staff can be equipped with mobile devices that access guest profiles, empowering them to provide personalized service anytime, anywhere. By linking scale and enhanced service, technology holds the promise to generate greater guest loyalty – and revenue – for chains and independents alike.
Click here to access the full report