The Future of the Guest Pre-Arrival Program

Why the First Impression Is No Longer the Lobby

By Duane Hepditch President & CEO, Guestfolio | January 04, 2015

This year, 106.3 million people will actually book travel online, and a third of them will book via mobile(1). This is a powerful statistic that will only continue to grow, and it makes total sense. Travel is a completely mobile experience and it should continue to be. Whether it's using your phone to check for directions, researching dining in the neighbourhood or even looking up a local telephone number, the mobile device is always by our sides when we're on the move. This, combined with the increasing number of travelers out there who expect more and more from their travel experiences, is why we work in Guest Relationship Management. Marrying these two together to provide the guest with a travel experience that starts as soon as they've booked and goes on well after check-out is what we do and is what's driving growth in the travel industry.

Today's travelers are a wise crowd. As more and more guests are looking to create their own unique travel experiences, gather inspiration from others and share their experiences with their friends and family, travelers now strive to stay ahead of the game to ensure they make the most out of their travel plans.

This means using multiple channels, on multiple platforms to maximize their ability to research, book, plan and rate their trips; whether they be business, family or friend vacations. One of the biggest influences for this change, is the mobile phone that's either in your hand as you read this or just a short reach away.

Research has shown that the home computer is still used by over 90% of people making travel plans online but there's a new demographic that's shaping the future of online bookings, searches and travel planning; the tech-savvy men and women aged 25-34 who have become immersed in travel websites, peer-review platforms and social media - and they're all doing it from their smart phones, tablets, and other mobile devices.

This research, from GfK(2), has also shown us that this group seems to be even more dependent on their smartphones than their non-traveling peers; young people using travel apps and mobile sites typically spend more than 50% longer browsing the internet on their phones each month than others in the same age group, and visit nearly a third more sites. And we can be sure that the number of people in this group will continue to grow.

Building on this, further research, from a recent Criteo report(3) saw that these mobile bookings are now growing faster than those on a desktop; a 20% increase was seen via mobile compared to just two percent for desktop computers the first six months of 2014, with smartphones and tablets now accounting for 21% of hotel bookings.

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Coming up in June 2019...

Sales & Marketing: Selling Experiences

There are innumerable strategies that Hotel Sales and Marketing Directors employ to find, engage and entice guests to their property, and those strategies are constantly evolving. A breakthrough technology, pioneering platform, or even a simple algorithm update can cause new trends to emerge and upend the best laid plans. Sales and marketing departments must remain agile so they can adapt to the ever changing digital landscape. As an example, the popularity of virtual reality is on the rise, as 360 interactive technologies become more mainstream. Chatbots and artificial intelligence are also poised to become the next big things, as they take guest personalization to a whole new level. But one sales and marketing trend that is currently resulting in major benefits for hotels is experiential marketing - the effort to deliver an experience to potential guests. Mainly this is accomplished through the creative use of video and images, and by utilizing what has become known as User Generated Content. By sharing actual personal content (videos and pictures) from satisfied guests who have experienced the delights of a property, prospective guests can more easily imagine themselves having the same experience. Similarly, Hotel Generated Content is equally important. Hotels are more than beds and effective video presentations can tell a compelling story - a story about what makes the hotel appealing and unique. A video walk-through of rooms is essential, as are video tours in different areas of a hotel. The goal is to highlight what makes the property exceptional, but also to show real people having real fun - an experience that prospective guests can have too. The June Hotel Business Review will report on some of these issues and strategies, and examine how some sales and marketing professionals are integrating them into their operations.