Prime time for travel is upon us, and travel restrictions are lifting in many destinations around the world. Wanderlust travelers and busy families alike are rejoicing that travel is back, with 29% of consumers already planning their revenge vacations – postponed, long-awaited or dreamt-about trips that never came to fruition during the pandemic.
Consumers are excited to go big with this first trip back and hoteliers need to be prepared to handle the increase in bookings and meet guests’ heightened expectations. While many travelers are willing to spend big bucks on these delayed getaways, they won’t pay for mediocre experiences – and won’t return if their stay isn’t everything they’d hoped for. With a slew of other options and inflation costs on the rise, establishing guest loyalty is imperative when navigating this new landscape.
Seventy-five percent of survey respondents have travel plans in the next 12 months, according to HT's 2021 Customer Engagement Technology Study.
Delivering Personalized Upsell Opportunities
One way hoteliers can capitalize on this revenge travel season is through customized upsell opportunities. Upselling gives guests the freedom to make their visit everything they’ve dreamed of, while the small selling boosts can help hotels recoup revenue losses of the last two years—nearly half of hoteliers strongly believe that special amenities and upgrades are crucial to their revenue strategy. Hoteliers must keep a pulse on their guests’ preferences and offer services, upgrades, and bundles accordingly, as consumers won’t always know what they want until presented with options. Furthermore, evaluating guest communications and connecting with them at every touchpoint leads to greater insights, so upgrade offers are insight-driven and more likely to be accepted.
Room upgrades and non-room offers and services help guests feel right at home. With machine learning and artificial intelligence, hoteliers can build out guest profiles based on real-time data and turn this data into actionable insights – upsell opportunities curated for each guest. Whether it’s giving the romantic couple a gorgeous view or offering the night-owl late checkout, a hotel stay can be tailored to each guest.
Guests are expecting more out of their trips and everything is fair game – fitness and wellness options, activity bundles, temporary offices – and failing to offer these choices can lead to revenue left on the table and low guest loyalty. Finding the right upsell opportunities and the best time to offer them not only creates a special, one-of-a-kind guest experience, but deepens the guest relationship to ensure they’ll book again in the future.
Last year’s shift in the job market wreaked havoc on service industries, especially the hospitality industry where personnel are an integral part of the guest experience. Hoteliers are now faced with limited resources and a narrow timeframe ahead of peak summer travel.
With limited staff, new automation and mobility technologies are driving efficiency and productivity. These innovations allow staff to move around the property assisting guests and performing their daily tasks with only a tablet or smartphone. This reduces the number of employees needed at the front desk, as the same tasks can be completed anywhere on the property. Mobility solutions not only benefit on-premises staff, but also provide more flexibility to allow some employees to work from home while still keeping tabs on everything happening on-site.
Additionally, the increased use of chatbots is beneficial to both customers and staff. Staff can get help addressing customer concerns with chatbots capable of voice recognition. From updating room status to checking in guests, systems can easily detect customer needs and help walk staff through the process. Chatbots often complete these simple tasks just as well as humans, providing quicker assistance and reducing staff stress. By automating these processes, staff have more time in their day to focus on more complicated guest needs, reducing burn out, and leaving them feeling empowered to provide better guest experiences.
Going All-In on Contactless
The pandemic has accelerated digitization across all industries in ways that never could have been imagined a few years ago. The lasting impact has affected each part of the guest experience, triggered by changing customer behavior in response to the pandemic. Safety and hygiene will remain important to travelers for years to come. As a result, digital and contactless technologies– from check in/out, to payments, to room keys – are priority investments to reduce crowds, long wait times, and unnecessary contact. Of the hoteliers polled in Oracle and Skift’s survey, 96% are investing in contactless technology, and 62% noted that “a fully contactless experience” is likely to be the most widely adopted tech in the industry in the next three years. This is welcome news for guests, as the same survey found that the vast majority of travelers (73%) said they are more likely to stay at a hotel with self-service options.
The hospitality industry will continue to embrace these innovations to streamline operations and prioritize cleanliness to align with shifts in customer expectations. While staff will remain available for more advanced requests or guests seeking a human-centric experience, check in kiosks, digital customer service, and mobile room keys will become more prevalent. This will allow guests to navigate most steps of the guest journey themselves, from requesting towels or room service right from their mobile app and avoid long lines at the front desk during check in and check out.This has the two-fold benefit of reducing burdens on staff.
Tourists and hoteliers alike are relying on upcoming revenge vacations to make up for the lockdowns and travel restrictions of the last two years. Furthermore, building and maintaining guest loyalty is crucial for hotels to recoup lost revenue. Amidst an increase in bookings, ongoing staffing shortages, and evolving customer expectations, recent data suggests it’s imperative that hoteliers utilize a breadth of technological capabilities to survive, and thrive, this summer. Unpack more of the findings in Oracle Hospitality “Hospitality in 2025: Automated, Intelligent… and More Personal” study.
About the Author
Laura Calin is the VP of Strategy and Solutions Management for Oracle Hospitality. Responsible for charting the direction of Oracle Hospitality’s cloud services and solution portfolio for the Hotels, Casinos and Cruise verticals, Laura oversees all product management and go-to-market strategies. An acclaimed industry leader, she has 25 years of experience in hospitality, product management and global business development.