Three events changed the hotel industry forever, the recession of 2008, the advent of smart phones in 2007, and the use of social networking in promoting business. Recession saw a huge decline in the travellers and consumer spends, leading to several budget cuts by the big brands and reduction in manpower.
So is it just a better bargain game? Actually not so much. Travellers today expect that the loyalty they show towards a certain brand be respected and rewarded with a better class of service. Hotels are more researched online and reviews carry far more importance on traveller’s decision for booking a hotel. This has distinctly highlighted one of the less pursued aspects in the hotel industry – the quest for a satisfactory review. The end of recession saw the return of the consumer, but this time more demanding of the – search, book and stay experience. This was not a surprise, considering all the smart phones and tablets floating around in the market . The travellers were technologically more aware, better researched and forever in the quest of a bargain or better deal.
With social networking adding fuel to this fire, hotels now have many challenges to meet, with lesser budget and manpower to handle all of these technological advances head on. The social networks, of course, took this process to a whole new level and to a great extent left us, in the travel industry, grappling to catch up with the increasingly wider channels that the traveller relied on to make travel decisions.
As has always been the case, technological advances, while creating new challenges for the hotel business, have also provided solutions to meet those challenges. With the recent advancements in cloud computing, hotels and brands are able to have bigger and better online presence at a low cost of maintenance. Online social networking channels such as Facebook and Twitter have helped hotels to track the consumer pulse and have been able to resolve a lot of customer satisfaction issues which earlier took the painful route of customer service escalations and lot of paper trails.
One thing that we have learned from the past two years is that we need to keep a sharp eye on the next technology trend that consumers adopt. The social networking era is just one aspect of what lies beyond the horizon of the tech trend curve. More importantly, with each new step that the traveller took towards a technology driven decision making process, hotel industry found, through the same technology, a newer & cheaper way to reach out to the traveller.
Time will show how hoteliers will be able to make hay while this technology curve is on the rise. Before the next fancy idea comes screeching round the corner and the whole world goes after it, the hotel business has to try and envision it.
One obvious candidate on the horizon is TV. HD & 3D TV have already arrived and present a massive opportunity to market hotels and holidays. So here is something that I believe would define the next trend – intelligent TV remotes that can help make a purchase decision while watching travel channels…. Any takers???
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