Weekly Roundup #17: Travel, Tech, and Social Media
It’s time for a new Weekly Roundup, so welcome, fellow readers! Check out the latest news and stories, all summarized for you. Don’t forget to follow us on social media for even more content and updates: we are on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.
Have a lovely weekend and see you next Friday!
Google Maps has updated its desktop and mobile app versions to add filters for its hotel search functionality. Users can now search properties to find ones with amenities such as free Wi-Fi, a gym, and a pool, and to see if they are pet-friendly or kid-friendly and have services like free breakfast or a gym. The interface differs between the desktop browser version and the app versions for Apple and Android devices. In the browser-based view, users need to click the phrase “more options” to see the additional filters. Users of iOS devices can type a phrase like “San Francisco kid friendly,” for example, to see filtered results in a particular neighborhood. The functionality debuted Tuesday in many markets. It underscores a broader trend in Google Maps becoming ready to morph into a superapp, as outlined in a Skift Deep Dive earlier this month.
One in four hotel guests are canceling their booking ahead of a stay - an increase being driven by the sales tactics of online travel agencies. The trend is causing problems for hoteliers who are unable to accurately forecast occupancy within their revenue management departments and creates headaches when organizing distribution across various channels. This is one of the key findings from a major study carried out by D-Edge, the Accor-owned hotel technology group that includes the AvailPro and FastBooking platforms. The average cancelation rate in 2014 was 32.9% and increased to 39.6% in 2018. It reached a high of 41.3% in 2017. Booking Holdings (owner of Booking.com) has the highest cancelation rate of the OTAs, coming in at 50% in 2018 and at an increase of 6.4% over four years.
A new survey by global travel IT provider Amadeus has revealed the top priorities of travelers when it comes to shopping and booking destination services. The travel activities market is expected to grow to be worth US$183 billion by 2020, according to research by PhocusWright. The sector is also one of the most varied travel segments. Multiple travel sellers existing across a multitude of websites, apps, and other platforms, making the shopping and booking process an often time-consuming one. In an overcrowded destination services marketplace, travel advisors play an increasingly important role to streamline relevant experiences for their travelers.
Trends and Insights
Guest ratings are more valuable than brand, it’s now a fact. Although a strong statement to make, recent third-party research confirms that travelers are willing to pay more for hotels with high ratings. This supports various studies on the topic, including our own research, which revealed that travelers are 3.9 times more likely to book a hotel with a higher rating. What makes this new research truly stand out is the relationship between Guest Ratings, Brand Value, and Price. In our latest blog post, we have thoroughly discussed these new findings and what they can be leveraged for a more successful and competitive hotel business.
91 percent of hotel executives surveyed said mobile technologies are critical to improving guest experience and cultivating loyalty. But only 69 percent were confident in their organization's ability to adopt and deliver those mobile experiences. "It's clear that hotels need to provide mobile innovations to meet the requirements of today's savvy consumers, yet some haven't started their mobile journey. Customers want to be able to engage with brands wherever they are – booking a room from their child's soccer game or ordering drinks while sitting poolside at the hotel. The properties that can't deliver these kinds of mobile experiences will quickly lose to those that can make the engagement simple and seamless for their customers," said Greg Webb, senior vice president and general manager of Oracle Hospitality.
Travelzoo, a global publisher of exclusive offers and experiences for members, today published the results of its Spring Travel Trends Survey, revealing that people who travel spontaneously tend to be happier and more content with life than those who don't. Almost half (49%) of respondents who self-identify as spontaneous leisure travelers strongly perceive themselves as happy, while only a third of non-spontaneous travelers say they feel happy in life. "Spontaneous travel" refers to unplanned travel in terms of timing and/or location, such as a last-minute weekend getaway or a trip to an unexpected destination. For the purposes of the survey, a "spontaneous leisure traveler" is someone who took at least one spontaneous trip of two days or more in 2018. The survey results indicate that spontaneous leisure travel is a well-accepted concept, with 83% of survey respondents reporting that they will consider taking a spur-of-the-moment trip in 2019.
The 2019 Lodging Technology Study reports that 2019 is the year “hotels gear up for the age of augmented authenticity.” With Gartner predicting that by 2020, 85% of relationships with businesses will not require human interaction, it’s clear that hoteliers need to embrace artificial intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT) today if they are going to engage guests through the channels they’re most comfortable using. Volara – the voice hub for the hotel industry – cautions that embracing AI doesn’t mean hoteliers can simply drop consumer-grade technologies into guestrooms and expect the devices to work successfully in a hotel environment. Installing off-the-shelf voice assistants in guest rooms without the appropriate software overlay adds no value to the guest experience. Rather, it could expose the hotel to liability and endanger hotel guests.
Hospitality Technology announced the release of its 21st annual Restaurant Technology Study, titled, “Exponential Digital Drives Quantum Convenience”. The study has chronicled the growth of restaurant IT over a course where the pace of change and technological advancement has been exponential. This 2019 study reveals that restaurants are placing hyper-focus on empowering diners with service options. One of the key findings is that restaurants are planning hardware upgrades with the largest portion of IT budgets being allocated here (23%). A telling byproduct of the fervor for delivery options is that the second greatest amount of IT spend will go to third-party providers (21%).