By: Dr Vikas Nand Kumar Batheja
Co-Founder & Director, Capital College
The hospitality industry has witnessed a dynamic shift last year. Today, professionals and managers are constantly looking towards implementing diverse strategies, which will leave a positive impact on the industry.
According to reports, the average revenue registered by hotels in 2019 was $201 and $165 in Dubai and Abu Dhabi respectively. Additionally, with the Dubai Expo postponed to 2021, the country is positive to bring more investors and participants for a grand success. In line with this, the column will explore some anticipated trends for the upcoming year and how it could potentially influence the market.
In 2020, the usage of mobile technology has increased more than ever. Hoteliers have started to leverage them to enhance hotel branding, build customer loyalty and increase cross-selling and other marketing programmes. In the current times, there are diverse hotel management software(s) that are used for both marketing and management purposes.
Reports suggest that since its inception, the industry has proven to deliver excellent customer service where guests can surf through user-friendly websites and applications and stay updated during emergencies.
This trend is expected to transform the industry as reports from 2019 claim that mobile devices account for 48% of the web surfing with Asia and Africa registering the highest clicks. In another report, it was seen that 45% of the travellers tend to make/change/update their bookings via mobile applications which have increased the conversion rate by five times as compared to phone calls or websites.
This trend has driven tremendous growth and opportunities for hotel owners to collaborate with tech experts, bridging the gap between guests and hotels and this will only continue in the coming years.
Virtual Reality & Voice Search
Like every industry, the hospitality sector has also introduced many VR tools that have enriched customer experience and satisfaction. Hotels have incorporated interesting VR opportunities in travel, booking processes and hotel tours. One of the leading trends within VR is headsets that have transformed guests’ experiences in their rooms and other recreational activities.
Research says that for any average customer, virtual reality intends to provide accurate information for hotel bookings in comparison to reading descriptions. This has allowed hotel marketers to put up the best before-you-buy concept. The virtual reality market was valued for a total of $11.52 billion in 2019. This is set to further rise to a whopping $87.97 by 2025 at a CAGR of 48.7%.
Along with this, voice search has been deemed as on the current hospitality trends. With Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri and Google Assistant, tech opportunities are limitless allowing hoteliers to bank on its amenities and offer a luxurious and digital experience.
Powered by artificial intelligence (AI), voice search has proven to offer accurate suggestions to guest queries and guide them in multiple-step processes such as check-in, completing transactions and other tasks. Therefore, it can be safe to say that virtual reality and voice search will continue to dominate on the technological front of the hospitality sector.
Ever since the pandemic has surged and affected millions of people and their businesses, there is perhaps a no better time to talk about sustainability. With environment issues increasing day after day, a large section of the hospitality industry has actively participated and shown interest in Go Green campaigns.
Along with reducing environmental problems, it has also proven to build a positive brand image. Alongside it has been seen that customers, especially belonging to the Gen Z are interested in contributing to such causes and are willing to pay for such products and services.
Additionally, reports analyse that constant development of sustainable measures has reduced hotel costs and also improved efficiency. Government bodies have also displayed great interest in supporting such initiatives in line with Abu Dhabi Vision 2030.
Personalised Guest Experience
With such a competitive market space, it becomes a struggle to attract, convert and retain guests. This is where ‘personalised’ became a new trend allowing hoteliers to build a powerful connection between themselves and their customers. Hotels have started using guest data to analyse customer behaviour and pattern. This has enabled them to create personalised experiences by sending relevant offers or personalised messages, attracting them to their product/services.
According to research conducted by Epsilon in 2018, it was projected that 80% of guests are more likely to choose a brand based on the personalised experiences they are offered. In line with this, it can be safe to say that in the coming years, these unique guest experiences can play a pivotal role in shaping the overall hospitality industry.
Although there have been numerous trends that were introduced and implemented in the market, some continue to thrive and make an impact, making hospitality one of the fastest growing and recovering industries in the world.