Weekly Roundup #16: Travel, Tech, and Social Media
Welcome you to our latest Weekly Roundup! You can end your week with a few of the most interesting news and stories from the hospitality industry, that we carefully gathered and summarized for you. Don’t forget to follow our social media accounts, for more insights and updates: we are on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram!
We wish you a lovely weekend and a very happy Easter to those of you celebrating!
Over the last several years, we've seen Google become a major player in the travel industry. In the last six months in particular, Google has gone from search engine to booking engine, causing more than a few worried glances among those who rely on direct online bookings for revenue. Google had previously been an ally in bringing qualified visitors to hotel websites but has now become your biggest competitor. The problem is that Google is keeping all of the browsing and booking traffic on Google, and away from hotel websites. Industry chatter regarding the tool is that Google is trying to compete with, and take business away from, OTAs. But for hotels already elbowing their way to the front of the room to capture direct bookings, this is another obstacle in the way of that valuable revenue channel.
For years, owners of small hotels and hostels have been signing up for subscriptions to cloud-based software, which generally gives them access to business data from mobile devices and spares them from being tethered to hardware. But it’s only recently that these tools have begun to talk to each other in ways that can reduce owner headaches. Hoteliers without technology teams are often left to their own devices, literally, when it comes to figuring out their software needs. Many owners of hotels and hostels with about 120 rooms or less use several separate online tools to accept and manage payments, manage their reviews on sites like TripAdvisor, distribute their rates to sites like Trivago or Booking.com, send emails and texts to guests, create and track customer profiles, and track and monitor room occupancy and inventory for check in and check out.
Expedia Partner Solutions is using deep learning models to improve the hotel booking process for partners and - ultimately - the end consumer. The company is employing a three-stage process with a deployment algorithm sorting properties for its Rapid API to deliver to different partners whether airline, retail store, or perhaps corporate travel partner. The work seems to be reaping results for both EPS and its partners. The company claims typical conversion improvements of 8% using the ranking models. One partner test conduced from January to May last year saw a 20% lift in incremental gross bookings.
Trends and Insights
Hey, listen! We know the days of turning towels into capes and playing superheroes are way behind us, but don’t you just wish sometimes that you’d have a little extra help when juggling with so many responsibilities at once? Often, we get so caught up in all the little details, operations, and tasks that a successful hotel business requires, that we forget to take a step back, look at the big picture, and just… listen. When managing a hotel’s service, don’t think of it as a monologue; it’s a constant and honest dialogue between you and your guest and it concerns both equally. You do the “talking,” market your hotel, attract travelers to it, give them the best experience that you can, and then listen to what they have to say about it. The best way to listen? Easy, through online reviews and guest surveys. Read more in our latest blog post.
Amazon has been making a lot of noise in the Middle East in the past two years - and it's catching the attention of travel marketers. According to CNBC, in January the company said it will launch a new Middle East marketplace targeting Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates that will use the Amazon brand, creating a unified identity and encouraging sellers based in the United States to expand into the region. And new research from Sojern indicates travel marketers are well aware of Amazon’s aspirations in the Middle East. A new survey of 600 travel marketers worldwide found that only travel marketers in the Middle East rank Amazon as having the greatest potential to disrupt travel marketing in the next five years. Forty-three percent of Middle East-based respondents chose Amazon, while 35% chose Facebook and Instagram, and only 27% selected Google Ads.
Trends in Global Millennial Travel provides an insight into millennial travelers, their behaviors, consumption patterns, and motivators. It looks in detail at US, Chinese and Indian millennials, how they travel, and what tourism companies and operators must do to attract these travelers. The report also provides actionable recommendations on the best way forward for airlines, hotel operators, tour operators, and destination marketing organizations. 86% of millennial travelers preferred to pay more for the expediency of flight schedule, irrespective of the flight cost. Also, in 2017, 80% of millennial travelers preferred to explore international locations over domestic destinations. Also, millennial business travelers are keen to extend their business trips in the interests of a leisure trip, to spend the extra time with their loved ones.
Technology in recent years has evolved at such a rapid pace and taken us further into a sci-fi-like future faster than our ancestors could have ever predicted. From smart home-enabled devices that control our thermostats and refrigerators to cryptocurrencies that provide secure stores of value, recent trends have brought many pipe-dream technologies to life. Many advancements have been more subtle but equally promising and transformative, from smart analytics in consumer and professional apps to the gradual but complete improvements in artificial intelligence, powering everything from self-driving cars to predictive text on your smartphone. Find out more about Narrow A.I, edge computing, blockchain, and more.
Agilysys, Inc., a leading global provider of next-generation hospitality software solutions and services, today announced the release of its annual hospitality infrastructure study, Guest Experience Management: How to Deliver What Matters Most to Guests. The focus of this year’s study is the rapidly growing area of Guest Experience Management (GEM), the practice of developing, designing and aligning guest interactions in a manner that exceeds expectations and boosts satisfaction, advocacy, and long-term loyalty. According to the study, over 57 percent of survey respondents said technology solution integration is a key component of delivering best-in-class guest experience management (GEM). Read more insights in the extended article.