Christina McCale is the author of six books, editor of 12 books, author/co-author of more than 45 academic papers and presentations, and developed course materials for more than 22 courses or textbooks. You can learn more about her writing at christinamccale.com or amazon.com/author/christinamccale
According to a TripBarometer report by TripAdvisor, 90% travelers choose an accommodation based on ratings on a review site and 88% travelers are guided by online reviews and posts on TripAdvisor. Reviews with a rating on 4 – 5 generate more than double the conversion compared to a review with 1.0 – 2.9 rating on Expedia. Hotels that have a higher guest score typically will have better placement on the travel sites. A better placement on the travel site means more bookings and more bookings mean a higher room rate, and eventually higher revenue for the hotel. Identify what emotions your guests’ value at the key touch points in their journey with you and also those they want to avoid. No matter how difficult it is if you are not taking care of your guests’ emotion then you are doing a terrible mistake.
To learn more about the Tripbarometer report by TripAdvisor, click here.
If’ you still think of Linked In as an “online resume posting site,” you’re missing out on the power of this unique social media platform.
With more than 433 million users — 41% of those US users having an income of more than $75,000 — Linked In is a powerhouse for the professional market.
While the recent publicity about Microsoft’s $26 billion acquisition of the social media site as put the platform back in the spotlight, it’s easy to overlook this important platform’s ability to connect your hotel to an array of constituency groups including customers, vendors, employees and industry trade professionals.
Social Media Marketing’s Industry report shows Linked In as the most important platform for B2B marketing, now even more important than Facebook. Further, 62% of business owners use the platform. Linked In’s focus on business and professionals means focusing your message slightly.
While Facebook might be your first thought for marketing, don’t forget your business travelers. According to the American Express Global Business Travel report, one third of all travel is done by business travelers, with them traveling 21-30 times each year. Business travelers also influence the leisure travel market, both in that they can afford to travel for vacations, but also in that they are often deciding — or influencing — the decision making process for choosing where to stay.
Further, a US News article shares that these same business travelers are also bringing loved ones — and even pets — along as they travel.
Take time to develop a great business page for your hotel. You can use it to highlight your hotel through photos, reinforce brand values (ie: through your news about the hotel), or hiring mission.
Also – don’t forget about group/meeting planner market: Linked In can connect you thousands of people in industry who are making decisions about this burgeoning business.
Professional networking sites are important for recruiting practices, as LinkedIn’s own research has shown. Recruiting use has increased 73%. “LinkedIn Recruiter allows us to target great candidates who are not actively seeking employment. Oftentimes, individuals highly engaged in their current positions are the top performers in their fields. They will not be searching for job opportunities, so it is up to us to find them, and LinkedIn Recruiter allows us to do just that. We have found success in using this tool, especially for filling higher level management positions,” Elaine Lai, Regional Training Manager for Delta Hotels & Resorts shared through go2hr.com.
Again, Linked In’s forums are a super place to get to know potential vendors in your industry. You can also use Linked In’s powerful search function to focus your efforts — looking for specific types of vendors in certain markets.
We all know how important great hotel reviews can be for your business.
“According to hospitality and resource tools.com, a one star increase on your average rating online can increase your hotel’s income by 9%. 360E-commerce found that revenue rose by 56% for hotels that consistently generated good online reviews.”
In fact, Forrester found that over 50% of travelers would not book a hotel that didn’t have online reviews.
That’s why it’s so important to put your best foot forward. Guests are twice as likely to take to the review sites and complain if they have found bathrooms, service and location to be lacking, or less than what they imagined your hotel would be, based on your website and/or other guests’ reviews.
Read More About Reviews, Revenue and the Role of Baths:
Spectacular. That’s the word that comes to mind when you get a glimpse of the Chicago hotel’s 329 room renovation. “We’ve taken inspiration from the existing hotel. And the existing hotel has a strong deco influence,” Bill Rooney, design director of Bill Rooney Studio located in New York City, the mastermind behind the re-design said.
Each guest room has an “art wall” that is both hand-painted and hand embroidered, incorporating traditional Chinese artisan techniques into the very fabric of the room.
The Peninsula took great care to source entirely from North America, and regionally when possible.
Every guest room has 3 tablets where you can find out what’s happening in the hotel or in the city, place a room service order, or read any of 3,000 magazines or newspapers (in any of 55 different languages.)
“We created a room that really accommodates all needs, and immerses that guest in luxury. It’s a space in itself that you like to spend time in,” the New York designer said.
Imagine this: You’ve been traveling all day. Your plane has landed… and thank goodness the airline didn’t lose your luggage. After waiting in line for what felt like forever, you’ve picked up your car, gotten to your hotel and parked. The nice hotel staff takes your credit card and ID. After she has registered you, the front desk clerk hands you a lovely brass key, announces that “you’ll be in room 433 tonight,” and directs a bell boy to carry your luggage – because there’s no elevator in the hotel.
You get into your room and you find that that’s not the end of the surprises:
There’s no TV.
Where are the wi-fi directions?
And what do you mean there’s a bathroom down the hall?
Take a Gut Check
While the above description might feel like a nightmare or an adventure from the Twilight Zone, take a moment and really think about how you (might have) felt during the hypothetical situation:
Ready to go find another hotel (that is, if you can get bars for your cell phone in this place so you can start searching)?
That’s how customers feel when they check into a hotel that isn’t “current” or “modern” – at least according to what their definition is of what their kind of hotel is or should be.
Who’s Your Customer?
Of course each hotel has a target market – an ideal customer segment their hotel is best designed to serve. Those customer segments then have different ideas about what they want in a hotel: from the prices they’re willing to pay, to the amenities that “should” be included in the room rates, to the types of services available in the hotel (ie: full service restaurant, room service, mini bar).
“Guests overall strongly agree that they would be willing to pay much more for significantly improved services such as Internet connectivity, comfortable beds, and responsive employees,” a Gallup poll suggests.
“Luxury and upper upscale customers consider the look and feel of the hotel as one of the most important factors for first and repeat visits. They tend to rely on their own observations about a hotel, rather than others’ recommendations, when booking a stay.”
Once a hotel has met the minimal requirements of a “nice, clean, quiet hotel room” though, guests do pay attention to what’s readily available to them. Ok, yes, in the nightmare scenario above, you had a bed and a clean room… So what was the problem?
What DO Hotel Guests Really Want?
The problem is that when people check into your hotel, they don’t just expect a bed.
They are replacing their lodging needs. Normally, they “lodge” at home.
Your guests are accustomed to what they have at home. They aren’t at home right now – they’re someplace else – and staying at your hotel. But what they are accustomed to having still stands.
They likely have a TV at home.
They likely have a phone (or cell signal) at home.
They have a bathroom that they don’t have to share with 10, 15 or 20+ strangers at home.
What people typically have at home is your real, bare minimum threshold of what customers expect or want.
Average number of baths in home: 2.56 baths or 1.05 people per bath.
The average hotel room size is 325 sq. ft., but some hotels are experimenting with rooms as small as 200.
But where hotels can really connect with customers are in terms of what do their customers “aspire to?” What do they wish they had at home?
So for example, take a look at what your customers are reading. Are they seeing headlines like “10 Ways to Make Your Bathroom More Spa-like”? or “How to Make Your Bedroom Your Sanctuary?” If so – these are strong cues as to what they’re leaning toward: the types of baths and bedrooms that they may not have right now – but they’d sure like to have.
And a spa-like bath or a sanctuary-esque sort of hotel room would have been awfully nice after the long travel day described at the beginning of this article, wouldn’t it?
If your guests are surrounded by images of spa-like baths, and they are aspiring to have (in the not so distant future) is a bath that has a spa feel – then your spa-like baths in your guest rooms will only reaffirm that this is a place they want to be – because it already speaks to what they’re already starting to aspire to.
So don’t let your rooms become an episode of the Twilight Zone for your customers: take some time to invest in really understanding who your customers are, what they really aspire to or appreciate. Take time to get a fresh perspective on your rooms from someone who’s never been there.
Do the furnishings seem creaky?
Have the surfaces and bath fixtures lost their luster?
Does the bedding or window dressings seem dated?
Their room has to feel like a place that they would want to be: because if the customer doesn’t get that feeling during their stay, they certainly won’t voluntarily stay there a second time.
It’s easy to see why this Four Seasons property ranked as one of the most anxiously awaited renovations of 2016 by Forbes Travel.
The Todd-Avery Lenahan redesign incorporates a Polynesian feel to the hotel, bringing a cornucopia of natural elements into the new rooms.
The balance between technology and zen-like relaxation is found in the bath: with stone covered vanities, teak paneling, and slate floors the rain shower or deep soaking tub becomes a get-away in itself.
But for those of us who just can’t seem to “turn off” the tube… never fear, there’s a hidden in-mirror TV too (see left). The TV monitor disappears so beautifully, it’s easy to miss it in our photo. (The mirror and TV monitor are on the left side of the photo, reflecting the bath towel next to it.)
How amazing?! Truly “now you see it, now you don’t” technology that enhances the experience without cluttering the ambiance.
The benefits of technology are in other areas too: the bed can be customized to your desired level of mattress firmness. Guests can also request wristband smart room keys.
Yes, yes, we’ve all been talking about Millennials and younger siblings, Generation Z. But let’s not forget the Baby Boomers just yet. … And what they mean for your hotel business.
Baby Boomers, those born between 1946-64 are now between 52 – 70 years old. As Dave & Deb of the travel website, the planetd.com, say “Adventure is for everyone…. Baby Boomers are hitting the road and traveling further and longer. Senior travel is one of the fastest growing travel markets around the world.” More than half of these travelers are expecting to inherit part of the 1 trillion in wealth expected to transfer from their parents. 20% of Boomers anticipate more than $100,000, while one third anticipate inheriting between $25-100,000… And travel is their top thing they plan to do with those funds.
AARP says in its 2016 Boomer Travel Trends: “The vast majority of Baby Boomers are planning to drive, fly or set sail on leisure trips in 2016, with an average of 4 or 5 trips already in the works.” “Boomers make up a large segment of the traveling public, and so it’s particularly important for the travel industry to be aware of what Boomers are looking for in their vacations going into 2016,” said Stephanie Miles, VP, Products & Platforms, AARP.
I know, when we think of “seniors,” so many of us think of our parents – old. Don’t move well. Slow. But remember, the Boomers have been rewriting what we as a society think is “average or normal” for a long time. And how we age – and how we want to spend our time in our later years – is really no different.
And that includes travel. Travel is still high on the list for how today’s modern, healthy senior wants to spend their time. Here are some travel trends to pay attention to as you plan for your hotel:
Genealogical tourism. According to USA Today, genealogy is still the #2 most popular hobby in the US thanks to the ready accessibility of online archives and databased as well as the ever popular shows like Who Do You Think You Are and Finding Your Roots.
How can you take advantage of this market? If your hotel is near a noted genealogy library or research center (like The New York Public Library – listed on FamilyTreeMagazine.com’s Top 9 Genealogy Libraries to Visit Before You Die), make connections with these centers. Are there events coming up? Conferences? Are there things you can do to best serve their guests and their unique interests (ie: a shuttle to their library?)
Multi-Generational Tours. Travel designed for grandparents to spend time with their kids and grandkids are on the rise. “The typical multi-generational traveler takes about 4.4 trips per year. Nearly 80% planned a vacation around a life event such as a birthday (50%), anniversary (40%), family reunion (39%), and wedding (37%).” This target market of Boomers see travel as “a worthwhile expenditure” as it allows them to reconnect with their family.
Educational Travel. While we normally think of “educational travel” as high school kids taking a class trip, or Gap-Year students off on an adventure, or even college students taking a year abroad, Seniors are mixing travel with their need to grow and learn more about the things they are interested in.
How can you take advantage of this? What’s near by that might be food for someone else’s passions? Are you in the heart of the Theatre District? Or perhaps are situated in an art lover’s paradise? Maybe your hotel is near a famous baseball stadium that die hard fans often make a pilgrimage to?
Bucket List Travel. Made popular by the 2007 movie of the same name (The Bucket List), more Boomers are making those bucket lists of places they have always wanted to go to – and then doing it.
Catering to the Boomer Traveler:
Remember – more than half of all Boomers under 60 years of age are still working. When they travel, one third of them still expect to be bringing some work along with them. So technological access/capabilities are still important.
Make sure your baths are safe from slip and fall incidents. While you’re planning any renovations, take the time now to ensure all of your bath surface areas have been treated/texturized to prevent falls (and potential lawsuits!).
With the recovering economy, guests are starting to venture back out and travel again. That’s good news for hotels. But those same guests are pickier than ever about where they spend their lodging dollars — and many are turning to hotel review sites and photos to ensure the hotel they choose is actually one they’d like to stay at and enjoy. So hotels are starting to renovate their properties. “The expenditures in 2015 still reflect some deferred items from 2009 to 2014 as well as meeting new brand standards, ranging from new or enhanced in-room equipment to redesigned lobbies,” the report states.
“In addition to brand standards influencing capital expenditures, social media postings are resulting in additional capital expenditures as owners become more aware of and respond to criticisms and unfavorable comments. This effect became significant starting around 2012 and continues to increase.”
Are you making plans to renovate? In the middle of a renovation?
Today’s traveller is looking for an experience that’s at least as good as what they have at home. But what do you do when part of “home” includes four legged friends?
In the spirit of a more “homey” stay, some hotels are making an effort to welcome guest’s pets just as much as they welcome their pet parents. Here’s how a few hotels are adapting their services to incorporate the pet parent (or pet parent wanna-be).
Roughly 62% of all American households have a pet. So what do pet parents do when they’re on the road — and missing Fluffy or Fido?
“That’s why the Red Mountain Resort in St. George, Utah, offers the Pound Puppy Hike, a complimentary amenity that matches guests with a puppy or dog from a local shelter for hikes on scenic trails in the area,” says CNBC’s Harriet Baskas.
Other hotels, such as the area hotels in Aspen, Colorado, have taken a different approach: some waive Pet Fees (which can be pricey at $125/night) for guests who welcome an Aspen Humane Society dog to join them during their stay. Other hotels even provide shuttle service to and from the shelter where guests can get their “pet fix” by doing just a brief volunteer stint for a few hours.
The Fairmont Hotel has gone full force into the canine companion concept. “Known for thoughtful and welcoming service, Fairmont Hotels & Resorts offers a distinctive service at select hotels with resident hotel dogs known as Canine Ambassadors. Travelers missing their own furry friend or looking for a companion while taking a walk can bring along the resident Fairmont dog for extra security and the comfort of home. Click on one of our much loved dogs below to find out more about their stories.” (We’re pretty impressed with Catie Copely located at the Fairmont in Boston!)
Fish Can Be Fun Too
Even more creative: Hotel Monacos (part of the Kimpton Collection) offer a “goldfish companion” for guests, brining just a fresh breath of life to what normally could be seen as a cold, empty room. “While we initially chose the Monaco for its location, and for the wine hour, we now choose it because of the goldfish,” said Liz Phillips, a middle school teacher from Portland, Ore. whose family stays at the Hotel Monaco Seattle each Thanksgiving.”
There might be no more famous hotel “pet” than the famed “Algonquin Cat.” The hotel’s mascot (or one of her predecessors) has been in residence for decades. The hotel’s current “Matilda” is an international celebrity, with her own social media accounts and fan base.
Of course inviting our four legged family members along on our travels can mean additional accommodations. How does your hotel appeal to the pet parent? Have you considered what additional modifications canine guests might appreciate in your suites?
Liked this article? Check out these other customer trends articles:
This survey, funded by the American Hotel and Lodging Educational Foundation (AH&LEF), shows that in addition to advancing consumer service, hotels are also giving back, making charitable contributions and being good stewards of the environment. Environmentally-friendly programs, such as towel reuse programs, recycling capabilities and water savings programs are increasingly popular, with overwhelming majorities of hotels participating. For more details about the AHLA biennial hotel study, click here.