Weekly Roundup Weekly Roundup #29: Travel, Tech and Social Media Laura Badiu // July 20, 2018 // 7 minute readWeek 29/2018 Another week means another Weekly Roundup on our blog, so welcome once again! You know the drill by now: every Friday, we gather and summarize the week’s most important and relevant news and stories from the hospitality business. This way, you can do a quick recap before the weekend and get up to date with everything going on in the industry. For even more updates, we highly recommend following our social media accounts: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram! Have a wonderful weekend and we’ll see you next Friday! Industry News 2018 Hospitality Technology Study, Uniting Hotelier and Vendor Technology Perspectives, Now Available Worldwide: Fuel Travel, StayNTouch and Flip.to have partnered to launch a new study that examines perspectives from hoteliers and suppliers on industry technology. First debuted exclusively for attendees of the HITEC Hospitality Technology Show in June, the results are now being distributed globally. The study surveyed hoteliers and suppliers to learn how the industry can improve from a technology perspective, with key takeaways for readers from both groups: hospitality decision makers and suppliers. With data surveyed from 358 respondents—all responsible for purchasing or selling technology in hospitality—the study is unique from other research in that it goes beyond standard reporting to identify similarities and differences in priorities for where the industry and travel technology should be headed. Hotels.com Launches Hideaway Hotels Category for Off-the-Grid Travelers: Hotels.com has introduced the Hideaway Hotels category in response to a lift in bookings in the last two years, with a 60% spike in guests leaving positive reviews for off-the-grid hotels. As modern-day travelers seek unique and personalized bucket-list experiences, unusual or off-grid destinations are ruling the booking charts. According to Hotels.com, online reviews have been looking positive with 60% of guests, leaving glowing reviews for locations such as private islands (50%), deep in the woods (50%) and forests (30%). Johan Svanstrom, president of the Hotels.com brand, said: “Thanks to our 25 million guest reviews, we’ve seen a huge uplift in a desire to escape the city and head for the hills – in some cases, quite literally! Going ‘off-grid’ seems to be a trend many guests are positively highlighting more and more in their reviews. Expedia Says Packages Are Better for Hotels Than Room-Only: Hotels are achieving higher average daily rates (ADR) from consumers who book packages rather than just rooms, according to data from Expedia Group. The online travel giant said consumers buying packages paid around 30% more in ADR than those making standalone hotel bookings. The study further revealed that package buyers booked one month earlier on average than standalone customers, who were also 2.6 times more likely to cancel their reservation than package consumers. These findings were based on Expedia’s booking data for 2017 with package sales running into the “tens” of millions. The research comes at a time when global hotel companies are focused on direct marketing to customers and encouraging them to book directly through their own websites and portals, rather than via online travel agencies and other third parties.Trends and Insights How Technology Impacts The Entire Guest Journey – Part III: The Post-Stay Phase: This week we have published the final part of our blog series focusing around the recently published eBook: The Hotelier's Tech Stack Guide: Must-Have Technologies That Impact The Guest Journey. Following the guest journey, from the pre-stay phase to the on-site experience, we broke down the most influential technologies and software that hoteliers absolutely need in order to ensure a seamless guest experience. Now it’s time to focus on the post-stay phase of the journey and its technological implications. It’s important to acknowledge the value of this particular stage and not associate the guest’s departure with the finish line. In this article, we focus on the much needed reputation management platform and the revenue management software. The Big Shift in Chinese Travel: Here’s What’s Hot: Exclusive visits to film locations, Michelin-star restaurants, ancient sites off the beaten track, and prestigious sporting events are the new must-dos for more adventurous and better-off Chinese tourists. Not so popular are regular package deals, according to joint research by ForwardKeys and the China Outbound Tourism Research Institute (COTRI), which indicates China outbound bookings for the (European) summer are ahead 13.5%. Researchers say customized travel is the big growth sector with a 300% growth in 2017, while this year there are currently more than 120,000 new orders a month, representing a market share of almost 15%. Solo Travel Soars in Popularity: 42% Increase in Bookings Since 2015: Hostelworld has revealed a 42% increase in solo bookings by travelers between 2015 and 2017. More and more people are choosing to travel solo and the noticeable trend in those ‘going it alone’ looks set to continue throughout 2018. And its women leading the way, with bookings by female solo travelers up 45% since 2015 in comparison to a 40% increase for men. Solo travel was once seen as brave and risky for female travelers but a shift of attitude has meant that it is now an adventurous, exciting experience that allows them to feel free with no one else to worry about or please. Culturally rich destinations such as Cuba, Macedonia and the Emirates are proving to be more popular than ever amongst solo travelers, with the rise in total solo bookings to Cuba alone from 2016 to 2017 increasing by 406%.Technology How Digital Assistants Will Impact on Hotels - A New Era Of Search: With sales of digital assistants projected to rise from 1.8 million to 15.1 million by 2020, it’s no wonder hotel businesses are beginning to pay close attention. But leveraging voice-activated search is going to demand a major content and SEO strategy shift from all businesses in the future. Digital assistants offer all kinds of voice-activated functionality, like playing music, streaming podcasts, making lists, setting alarms, and providing weather and traffic updates. The major benefit to users is the hands-free nature of it all. This article tackles into more interesting topics, like rankings and SEO for voice search. Consumers Want Chatbots to Feel Human, Not Look Human: A new study by CapGemini finds that consumers are ready to embrace AI support and that AI interactions if properly designed, can enhance the personal connection they feel with brands. The study is comprehensive – it is based on surveys of 10,000 consumers from 10 different markets and covers all ages, income groups, and employee status. These surveys were supplemented with three virtual focus group discussions with 8-10 consumers per focus group in the U.S., France, and Germany. Improving the “human” qualities of AI-interactions is a priority to build confidence in the AI assistant, the study finds. For this, refining the natural language interface is critical. However, it is also important for companies that get the AI to sound human to offer transparency on whether the interaction is AI-based or human.