By James Bishop, Senior Director, Global Ecosystem at SiteMinder
SiteMinder’s latest global research, The Dynamic Traveller: A New Era of Hotel Guest, uncovers a tech-savvy, empowered and experience-driven hotel guest that has emerged worldwide since the pandemic began.
Utilising the survey responses of more than 7,000 travellers from eight countries in four continents, the report builds on the findings of SiteMinder’s Changing Traveller Report, including the UK edition, to identify global tendencies for an increasingly interconnected industry.
This comes as the SiteMinder World Hotel Index shows global hotel bookings have passed 70% of 2019 levels for the first time since COVID-19, driven partly by the Europe-wide international travel recovery. Meanwhile, in the UK, overseas bookings are steadily increasing, from under 7% of the total this March to over 18% currently.
As such, UK hotels will do well to use this window to prepare, before domestic and international numbers fully return to pre-pandemic levels. Here’s my take on our findings, and some tips for hoteliers…
The dynamic traveller is enthusiastic, discerning and experience-driven
Absence of travel has made the heart grow fonder, with 34% of respondents planning over the coming year to travel more (22%), or much more (12%), than prior to COVID-19, and 34% planning to travel the same amount. When deciding where to visit, ‘bucket list items’ featured among the top two choices of 38% of respondents.
Some 94% of travellers expect higher (52%) or the same (42%) accommodation standards compared to before the pandemic. Free booking cancellation and modification is listed as one of their top two priorities by almost one third of travellers, while over one-in-four name cost as one of the two leading factors when choosing where to stay.
In terms of booking, 39% of travellers expect to reserve their next stay directly with their accommodation provider, up from 36% in 2020, while the number of respondents seeking to book as part of a package has more than tripled from 4% to 14%. This correlates with what we’ve seen at SiteMinder; during the first of half this year, direct bookings through our platform increased 33% compared to the same period in 2019.
Importantly for hoteliers, travellers are also overwhelmingly not opposed to the use of their personal data to improve their guest experience, with 54% being either supportive (39%) or very supportive (15%) while only 18% are opposed (14%) or strongly opposed (4%). When it comes to paying hotels online, however, respondents are somewhat more cautious, with over a quarter expressing some level of distrust.
All this highlights that dynamic travellers want something special in return for time and money invested, and are increasingly prepared and able to shop around for the best deals, taking full advantage of the ever-greater wealth of information and deals available to them. They are also open to sharing their personal information to facilitate this, and to booking directly in return for personal service and best rates.
Hotel commerce technology – a crucial ally
The dynamic traveller is accustomed to an always connected digital world of 24/7 communications and a seemingly endless online supply of goods and services. Specialist technology that allows you to personalise and monetise every stage of the guest-journey includes apps such as Welcome Pickups for airport transfers and Oaky for upselling, software like TrustYou to monitor reviews, or Cendyn for tailored emails. By using the tools available, you can generate more revenue per guest and avoid missed opportunities or unsatisfied customers.
The same goes for direct bookings, which you can boost by investing in an attractive and user-friendly website with a trustworthy, quick and simple payment processor; a quality booking engine, Google Ads, and a range of activities including remarketing, price comparison, chatbots, loyalty, upselling and reviews. Some of the leading platforms and apps available include Sojern, HiJiffy, Laasie, and The Hotels Network, all of which are now accessible through Plug-in Apps.
Another advantage of using best-of-breed technology is that you can quickly and easily ensure your various systems and connected apps are all working together for one holistic hotel commerce strategy, synced with each other and real-time market data, ensuring you are always both maximising revenue generation and driving direct bookings.
At a time like this, investing in the right digital toolkit can really pay dividends. Thanks to the growth of hotel commerce technology, you can—to a greater extent than ever before—effectively identify, understand and reach potential guests, convert them into paying customers, and create personalised and seamless experiences filled with win-win monetisation opportunities. This allows you to not only increase revenue, but leave your customer satisfied, happy and wanting more, willing to return to your hotel or recommend it to friends, family or online.
Dynamic travellers call for a dynamic hotel industry. Now more than ever, it’s time to get ahead of the curve and capitalise on the transformations taking place.