Capitalizing on the Convergence of Social, Behavioral, and Technological Trends

By Ashish Gambhir Co-founder , newBrandAnalytics | October 07, 2012

The convergence of social, behavioral and technological trends are defining a new way for hotels to interact with data and people. Will you and your business be ready? Hotels that use analytics to decipher online feedback are well positioned to deliver a superior quality experience and earn continuous customer loyalty.

A trio of trends is converging on the hospitality industry. One-way, brand-driven communication is being rapidly replaced by a wave of social, behavioral, and technological trends that are changing the way hotels do business. At the center of these converging trends is your customer. Connected, discerning, informed, and empowered, today's customer has taken control of their relationship with your hotel. Understanding how these trends are impacting your business, and being prepared and ready to capitalize on them, will give your hotel the competitive advantage needed to survive and thrive in a constantly evolving landscape.

Today's Customers are Social

Your guests are increasingly going online to talk about their experience at your hotel and, at the same time, travelers are tapping into their online network for advice on purchase decisions. With 77% of travelers saying online reviews influence their purchase decisions, social recommendations are today's most powerful marketing asset. (Source: Deloitte)

For Millennials (a generation that by 2017 will have more buying power than any other), the opinions of others like them-particularly those with direct experience with the brand, product, or service- carry even more weight than insights from friends and family members, according to new research from Bazaarvoice. Raised on a diet of social media:

• 86% say user generated content (UGC) is generally a good indicator of the quality of a brand, service, or product.

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Eco-Friendly Practices: Corporate Social Responsibility

The hotel industry has undertaken a long-term effort to build more responsible and socially conscious businesses. What began with small efforts to reduce waste - such as paperless checkouts and refillable soap dispensers - has evolved into an international movement toward implementing sustainable development practices. In addition to establishing themselves as good corporate citizens, adopting eco-friendly practices is sound business for hotels. According to a recent report from Deloitte, 95% of business travelers believe the hotel industry should be undertaking “green” initiatives, and Millennials are twice as likely to support brands with strong management of environmental and social issues. Given these conclusions, hotels are continuing to innovate in the areas of environmental sustainability. For example, one leading hotel chain has designed special elevators that collect kinetic energy from the moving lift and in the process, they have reduced their energy consumption by 50%  over conventional elevators. Also, they installed an advanced air conditioning system which employs a magnetic mechanical system that makes them more energy efficient. Other hotels are installing Intelligent Building Systems which monitor and control temperatures in rooms, common areas and swimming pools, as well as ventilation and cold water systems. Some hotels are installing Electric Vehicle charging stations, planting rooftop gardens, implementing stringent recycling programs, and insisting on the use of biodegradable materials. Another trend is the creation of Green Teams within a hotel's operation that are tasked to implement earth-friendly practices and manage budgets for green projects. Some hotels have even gone so far as to curtail or eliminate room service, believing that keeping the kitchen open 24/7 isn't terribly sustainable. The May issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some hotels are doing to integrate sustainable practices into their operations and how they are benefiting from them.