Besides the old “new year, new you” adage, 2015 will be a year of change for the hotel industry, mainly because this will be the year when many trends that have been in development for some time now will become the norm. 2015 will have its winners and losers when it comes to hospitality, and the success or fail of many businesses will come down to their ability to adapt and embrace these market trends.
Robotics is taking over the world
It looks like the age of robotics has finally reached the hotel industry. A great example of this is ALO, the steward robot, which serves at the A loft hotel in Cupertino, California. The R2D2-looking robot ‘walks’ around the loft and the hallways transporting food, drinks and anything that is requested by the guests. He receives orders from a tablet and accepts no tips besides a thank-you tweet with the hashtag #MeetBotIr.
If a steward robot is out of your plans, you may want to join one of the many hotels that already have tablets and videogame consoles in their rooms, which can be used for entertainment, as well as to order room services, to regulate the lighting or even to facilitate and enjoy a straightforward check-out!
Speed is the new norm
With the appearance of tools such as Apple Pay and the iWatch, many hotels are offering wearable bracelets with which guests can make their payments inside the hotel in a quick and comfortable way. Once the guest passes their bracelet in front of a laser reader, the payment is added to the bill, which is pay later on check-out. The pain of having to carry your wallet everywhere you go seems to be coming to an end.
To speed things up, hotels are also getting rid of reception desks and have started using virtual concierges which can be operated from any mobile device or tablet. There, you can check-in in the most convenient way, without having to wait long queues, so you can get the best out of your holidays. Once you’ve checked in, the same app will ask you to pick up your key from a –digital – safe box and guide you to your room.
A new style for new people
Millenials are changing the way we understand the world, and are becoming one of the main and most profitable targets of those hotels that are aware of the importance of the group. One of the hotel chains that are making a great effort to understand the needs of these millenials is “Toc Hostels“, which is owned by Ignacio Catalán, son of Antonio Catalán, the founder of AC Hotels. The “Toc” Style connects with the people anywhere they have fun, and brings them into a simple, casual environment where they can enjoy their time and share their stories with people from all around the world, in full Airbnb fashion.
Your review is important
Nowadays, the opinions shown by other users in platforms such as Tripadvisor, Booking, Twitter or Facebook are a pivotal factor in the election of a hotel over another. Knowing that, the touristic industry, which was at one point rather afraid of the impact this would have on their sales, has started embracing this tools as a way to compete against other hotels.
Such is the importance for hotels of collecting user feedback that they have started investing in tools like ReviewPro, which allows hotel owners keep track of everything that is being said about their hotels throughout all the different digital channels in one simple and easy to use tool. ReviewPro also allows them to use all this customer intelligence to perform data-driven improvements to their service almost in real time. No more angry customers.
First impressions are everything
Research shows that a potential customer makes the decision of whether to book in your hotel or not in less than 7 seconds. Yes, seven seconds. That is less than it takes to read your hotel description or even compare you to other hotels around you. How is that possible then?
Well, when asked, a large percentage of online customers say that the defining factor that helped them make their decision was not the price, but the images they saw in the profile of the hotel, which helped them have an idea of what they would find once there. They also said that they would book in a more expensive hotel if they could find extensive graphic information about it, in comparison with a cheaper hotel with bad, mistreated photographs. Once again, this is proof of the switch of priorities for our customers: the focus is not on the price and the more tangible things anymore: it is in the visitor experience, the service and the reputation of the hotel.
Which do you think will be the defining factors that will separate the good from the best in the hotel industry this year? Give us your thoughts in the comments below.
This article originally appeared in Spanish at El País Viajero on January 14th 2015.