Weekly Roundup #11: Travel, Tech and Social Media
The Weekly Roundup is back and it seems like we’ve had another busy week in hospitality. You know the drill by now: we kept a close eye on the recent news and summarized them for you, just so you could quickly recap them before the weekend. So make sure to check out these headlines, follow us on social media for even more updates and have a great end of the week!
In a span of just a few months, Google’s threat to booking travel has become a looming even larger. Indeed, Skift said last October Google’s new hotel search is presenting a greater threat to booking rivals. Now the tech giant has added a full-fledged destination site for hotels, without any major fanfare, and has potential implications for booking sites, as well as Airbnb, on the lines of what it has done with its already very-popular Google Flights. Once the users go to Google’s hotel site and select a hotel, a “Book a room” button is very prominent. When the user selects one of the online travel agency or other metasearch advertisers, the traveler navigates to the third-party site for booking. But there is often an option to book right on Google for Travelocity or Agoda, for example. Read more in this Skift article.
Airbnb is ramping up its strategy around hotel accommodations by striking an agreement to acquire HotelTonight. Terms of the deal have not been disclosed. HotelTonight had raised nearly US$130 million in investment funding since its creation in late 2010. The purchase, according to Airbnb, gives it the chance to "accelerate our work to build an end-to-end travel platform that serves everyone.” It is unclear what Airbnb will do with its latest acquisition in the mid- to long-term - but states that it will look to return to the last-minute focus that HotelTonight launched at the turn of the decade.
European travelers are mostly looking for things to do in a destination via Google and TripAdvisor, according to research. “The Closing The Digital Gap” study from Arival and BookingKit, reveals more than half of travelers (56%) say they used Google and 38% say they used TripAdvisor to help plan activities. Additional sources of research include other websites/apps for 22%, the website of the tour/activity provider for 20% and YouTube for 19%. While the research shows a more than 70% strong demand for tours and activities, including an outdoor adventure or activity on their trip, it is still often a challenge for travelers to find and book experiences online.
Trends and Insights
Most hotel marketers in 2019 have noticed that it has already been a while since conventional advertising strategies have become almost obsolete and a thing of the past. A simple banner or a TV commercial is no longer enough to attract and retain customers and hotels are becoming aware of this. With the rise of social media and YouTube channels, publicity and advertising have reached new heights and they have often been given actual faces: the ones of influencers and hotel influencer marketing. There’s no good reason why the hospitality industry could not profit from this new marketing strategy. Putting a well-known face to your brand, commercial, or one-time offer is something that can boost your popularity and increase the level of visibility in the online space. Read more about this topic and how to make the most out of influencer marketing in our blog post.
In a context in which hoteliers compete with large OTAs to attract the customer, loyalty programs become indispensable for a good direct sales strategy. This is confirmed by the latest figures published by Roiback, a company based in Palma de Mallorca (Spain) and specialist and leader in the management of hotel direct sales. The Mallorcan tech company has stated that loyal customers spend on average 22.4% more than sporadic customers and have longer stays (almost 30%). In addition, the customer's expenditure level grows progressively year after year and their frequency of purchase increases: a loyal customer will buy 10 times more during their life cycle than a new customer. Thus, a repetition rate of 5% can triple the annual growth of a company and its profits up to 25% per year.
As hoteliers grapple with implementing diverse distribution strategies that optimize their spend, reach and results, emerging trends around channel development and how consumers interact with direct and indirect channels are adding new dimensions to the challenge. While there are indications that the trend may be slowing, online travel agencies steadily bit into hotel-direct bookings between 2010 and 2016. During that period, hotel-direct bookings decreased from 55 percent of the online market share to 49%, according to Phocuswright research. Hotel bookings through OTAs increased over the same period to reach 51% of the online market. There are many more interesting insights in this article, so make sure to check it out.
It's commonly known that assembly line workers often experience burnout from the repetitive, mind-numbing nature of their jobs. In their instance, though, there's not much they can do on the job to battle their burnout and job dissatisfaction that still allows them to retain their jobs. It's a take-it-or-leave-it situation. The parallel in hospitality guest services - the frontline employee who fields repetitive, oftentimes mundane guest requests all day. Fortunately, there's an emerging alternative: a new breed of collaborative solution where humans and artificial intelligence (AI) work together. This hybrid approach to managing guest service fosters a win-win-win scenario, one that benefits employees, guests and hotel operators alike. Explore how this impacts hotels today in this article.
Fliggy, the Alibaba-owned online travel platform, has opened a hotel which aims to use technology from across the mothership to improve the guest experience. The FlyZoo Hotel in Hangzhou enables guests to make reservations via a mobile application as well as choose their preferred floor and location of the room. Guests can use the app for check-in before they arrive and self-service kiosks are also provided for check-in inside the hotel lobby. Facial recognition technology is also being used to enable guests to access elevators and unlock rooms. Alibaba’s Tmall Genie voice devices have been placed in all rooms to help with temperature control, lights, curtains, and the television. Guests can also order room service and other hotel amenities via the devices.