High Tech, High Touch Hotel Performance

By Melissa Maher Senior Vice President - Global Partner Group, Expedia, Inc | March 25, 2018

Technology has impacted how consumers today live, work, shop and play. They have instantaneous access to nearly everything – information, purchasing, communication– at their fingertips. The average consumer is exposed to up to 10,000 brand messages a day, and switches between screens up to 21 times per hour. That is a lot of information for one person to process.

Thanks to technology, consumers today are moving at the speed of light, and they expect the companies they interact with to keep up with them. This impacts all industries and is increasingly important in the travel landscape. As consumers become even more tech-savvy, there is a growing "digital impatience," or an expectation that technology understand them, and be increasingly intuitive, personal and seamless. They don't want to waste time.
 
No one knows this more than Expedia, with our deep focus on technology and learning. With more than 200 travel booking sites, we dig deep into our data to understand traveler behaviors and what drives them. There were 55,000 technology-driven tests conducted on Expedia sites in 2017, with 22,305 in lodging platform enhancements alone. Our test-and-learn culture is designed to implement solutions that bring our partners alongside their guests on their digital journey – reaching and interacting with them the ways they are accustomed to.

Here are a few learnings hotels can lean into:

Efficiency Rules

The promise of technology has always been about efficiency. For Millennials and Gen Z, they have never even known a world without digital disruption, so they expect constantly evolving experiences that are simple and seamless. The concept of a marketplace is not new, but it continues to dominate user experiences. Amazon is a perfect example of this – what was once a place to buy rare books is now your one-stop shopping, voice-enabled digital assistant, entertainment experience and physical grocer. The marketplace continues to consolidate and evolve.

According to a recent Expedia survey, 80 percent of U.S. travelers said they prefer to book all travel on a single website – the marketplace of travel. When viewed with the lens of an acquisition channel for hotels, OTAs cater to this growing majority, where they can book flights, hotels, transportation and experiences together. On average, customers who purchase vacation packages through Expedia book more than two times further out than customers who purchase hotel only, they stay on average two times longer and cancel at one-third the rate as a standalone bookers.

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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.