For many hoteliers, the beginning of a new year brings the motivation to create new operational efficiencies – and many look to technology to make that happen. To determine where to invest in your business this year, it’s essential to assess what customers want and how your property is or isn’t currently addressing this desire. With guest expectations at the center of your strategy, you can begin to define your business plan, identify areas for improved efficiency, and make thoughtful technology investments.
If you’re ready to make a change but are unsure where to start, here’s a look at some of the biggest hotel trends for 2023 and how they can impact the future of your hotel business.
1. Rising Demand for Mobile & Digital Experiences
Today, a hotel’s digital experience is just as important as its physical one. Most guests have their first interaction with hotels online, meaning these digital channels operate as a property’s first impression with customers. In addition to having a beautifully designed website, app or social property, how these assets function is equally important. And in today’s modern age, the digital experience has become synonymous with the mobile experience. According to Hospitality Technology’s 2022 Customer Engagement Survey, 73% of guests want to interact with hotels through their smartphones, including making reservations and checking in/out. In short, the more guest-facing services you can make mobile, the better.
For hotels that haven’t invested in a strong online presence, the time is now. This could look like building your own mobile-responsive website or app or partnering with expert vendors that offer mobile compatibility with their services, such as cloud-based platforms. Other possible mobile operations can include contactless payment, a guest portal where guests can manage their information, and direct messaging. Not only do these digital and mobile experiences create a smooth guest experience, but it creates efficiencies for hotel staff.
2. Shifting Preferences in the Booking Process
Despite being an essential function of hotel operations, reservations remain a significant pain point for guests. Arecent survey of booking behaviors found that poor experience and pricing were the main reasons for guests not booking directly. At the same time, convenience was the top reported benefit of using an OTA. However, guests note that OTAs are not without drawbacks, with common complaints including too many options, complicating the booking process, too many ads and a lack of accountability when a reservation goes wrong.
In 2023, there are simple ways to address these issues and ensure a great booking experience. To start, upgrade from legacy systems that aren’t compatible with direct booking. When researching technology partners and vendors for an online booking engine, look for features like room customization and the ability to select add-ons. In fact, the main reason guests indicated a preference for direct booking was that they wanted extras. And don’t forget about mobile compatibility!
3. Heightened Data Privacy & Security
It’s no secret that big data is a main driver of business today. When paired with top-notch business intelligence tools, companies can deeply examine customer behavior to mine actionable insights for improving their business. However, with this increased data use, consumers are now more aware – and wary – of when and how their data is used.
A recentconsumer privacy survey conducted by Cisco found that 81% of consumers consider how companies treat their personal data as a reflection of how they are treated, illustrating a growing link between data transparency as a mark of consumer trust. Since personalization has become such a large part of the hotel experience in recent years, it’s prudent that hotels are upfront about their data policies and provide guests with options regarding the use of their data.
An increase in technology and data use also points to a growing need for cybersecurity investment within the hospitality sector. Data breaches have grown increasingly common across all industries, and according todata from IBM, the average cost of a breach in the hospitality industry is more than $2 million.
Hoteliers need to ensure any technology partner or vendor puts data protection at the forefront of their services. You want vendors who use trusted industry names like Microsoft and AWS to host their data, as these servers will have larger protections than self-hosting vendors. Look for companies who list specifics on their security features pages, such as restricted IP addresses, two-factor authentication and the ability to control data access on an employment level.
Making Investments Today
As the hospitality space becomes increasingly intertwined with technology, digital presence will be an ever more critical part of the business. Technology provides new options for hotels to improve their guest experience and offer guests new ways to spend their vacation, but the functionality needs to be solid first. The digital expectations of our personal lives now bleed heavily into our consumer lives. It’s up to hoteliers to adopt technology that balances efficient operations with guest expectations.