Predictions of How the Travel & Tourism Industry will Change as a Result of COVID-19
With travel opening back up as the pandemic starts to slow and with new technology rapidly being created and adopted, it’s time we look at the current and future hospitality marketing trends and how they impact your hotel marketing strategy. Some of these trends are already starting to be adopted by bigger or more progressive brands, and some are certainly going to take place within the next few years. Given the rise of new technologies, there are many ways to segment your market and to create a seamless personalized customer experience for your guests. Let’s explore these trends and look at how they could possibly be implemented into your future guest experience.
Most brands are likely familiar with social media retargeting and how companies are personalizing and automating marketing, whether it’s through Instagram ads or Google banners and display ads. It’s important, though, to envision how this relates and could be valuable to your hotel. Beyond just behavioral attributes and psychological attributes, how do you actually interact and engage with brands? Larger brands will have the capability to actually spend the time and energy to flesh out multiple campaigns to create advertisements for segmentations and specific target audiences. We’ll be able to create a campaign for two 35-year-old females and personalize each ad for each of them depending on their online behavior, location, and previous experience with the brand. One ad may target a guest that wants to stay for a short period of time while the second ad might target someone that wants to stay for a few months and work remotely. Based on the data connected to one’s unique IP address, we’ll be able to create various segmentations and personalized journeys where the same website experience for one guest will be completely different from another. The personalization of these online experiences will continue to become deeper and more intelligent too. We currently have the technology to change offers, dynamic promotions, and even the layout of the webpage based on the user.
Seamless Online Experience
We also see the integration of these online travel experiences being far more seamless. In the customer journey right now, there are multiple touchpoints and various means of research that are needed before reaching the point of booking. Thereafter, there are multitudes of platforms and services like Airbnb or Expedia that now enable and empower guests to be able to book activities around the destination at very reasonable and affordable rates. It will be interesting to see the proliferation of these types of activity and experiential-based services that extend to the hotel and influence how brands provide options for their guests, personalizing the activities they book based on previous experiences or trips even before they step foot on property. Beyond a hotel’s CRM tracking a guest’s activities, tours, and spa packages, hoteliers in the future will be able to decipher the type of person and desired activities they want to engage in based on their online profiles and former experiences they have shared via social media. Hotels will have an intimate knowledge of their guests before they arrive and the guest experience will be enhanced before, during, and after their stay. The objective is not to be intrusive but rather more seamlessly add value to tailoring an experience that is desired by the guest.
Loyalty Programs & Memberships
The advancement of technology and rise of robust guest profiles will also encourage the evolution of loyalty programs and memberships for hotels and resorts. These programs will be expanded across platforms and will link information to guest hotel room numbers, further engaging guests with the hotel services and activities. Guests will be able to track purchases of meals, amenities, wellness packages, etc. and will be rewarded for those transactions and behaviors. Our hope is that these advancements will allow the hotel staff more interface and time to enhance truly unique experiences for the guests.
Local Art, Installations and Live Event Broadcasting
Further, as it relates to guest experiences, another current trend that is here to stay are immaculate designs, installations, and other visually appealing attractions that make for Instagram-worthy content and draw in guests to take pictures. Tourists travel far and wide to visit many of these installations in search of a quality photo-op.
The rise of virtual reality will also bring forth unique marketing opportunities providing potential guests the chance to take full 360 tours of the property, drone flyovers, and have a full immersive interaction to better see what each destination and hotel experience would look like. Augmented reality will then also provide guests the opportunity to interact with destinations in real-time or virtually from the comfort of their own home without ever having to get on a plane. This technology and expansion of experiences on property will allow guests to feasibly request services and amenities, pick out and order meals, book activities, access entertainment, and more.
Looking into the future of hospitality beyond just marketing, telecommunication will continue to ascend and platforms like Facebook Live and YouTube Stream will be able to broadcast live events. The ability for anybody to experience these events in some capacity will create a desire for more luxury experiences and will drive boutique hotel and resort market shares in the coming years. It is also a way brands can currently show the weather and how busy it is at the property via LiveCams on their website or social media to build further validity to prospective guests.
The “Digital Nomad” or Remote Worker & Traveler
Why will these enhanced property tours and amenities be so desired? Because of the increasing ability to work remotely and live a digital nomad lifestyle. The Covid-19 pandemic has moved much of corporate America online, to Zoom, and many companies are seeing greater productivity from their employees working from home. Employees now have more flexibility to utilize this remote working global marketplace and hotels will need to retrofit and tailor their amenities to guests who want to stay for multiple weeks or months. This may require the modification of infrastructure to provide extended-stay guests with wifi throughout the resort property, communal kitchens to cook meals, and office spaces for remote work and business calls. Another critical element for extended-stay guests is the fostering of community and connectedness. This can be done before guests step foot on the property through the use of social media groups and platforms like ClubHouse. These community-building platforms can provide resources, the chance of questions and answers, and the opportunity to meet other guests and travelers. These guests also want to feel fully immersed in their destination’s culture and lifestyle. This will mean an increase in hotel partnerships with influencers or local companies, for example, providing locally sourced shampoo, conditioner, lotions, and sunscreens to your guests and offering a variety of different local activities or philanthropic opportunities for them to feel involved.
Cause Marketing & Supporting Local
This leads to another current trend on the rise, cause marketing and supporting local. Guests want to feel involved and like they’re contributing to a greater impact. Hotels need to reposition and show their engagement in local community programs and philanthropies in order to better connect with the community. Doing so will also reinvest into your guest experience and will create visibility and transparency. It will be very important to show your guests that by booking directly, they’re supporting local, and by supporting local we’re going to give $5 per booking or $5 per night back to support community development. Many hotels and resorts are also implementing sustainability programs in order to help aid guests in living environmentally friendly lifestyles by using new technologies to demonstrate their impact. The ability to segment specific groups will allow hotels and resorts to develop projects and programs for their guests to participate in which will then further foster a sense of community.
With enhancements in the Internet of Things (IoT) connecting everyday household items to technology it will be interesting to see how hyper-targeted ads and their personalization will be able to provide even more unique experiences from data collected from these devices. An example of this is the development that we’re an agency of record for called VidaLuz which is working on some very sustainable projects like agricultural programs, vertical grow gardens and training residents and visitors on practices around sustainable agriculture. There are even sensors inside compost trash cans that will weigh how much waste you’re discarding and then algorithms will compute the amount of carbon emission that will be regenerated back into the environment. There are also individual profiles that tell how much water and plastic you saved and how you’re reducing your carbon footprint. It will be really interesting to see how gamification is able to reward and build community in that capacity and how that drives behavior to be environmentally conscious.
Vital Commercial Strategy to Drive OCC & Profits
Another trend we’re seeing is the integration of sales marketing revenue management or a hospitality Vital Commercial Strategy. Due to the are different personality types that exist, from the financial minds, to the charismatic sales minds, to the more integrated marketing minds and there’s often disruption as to how you actually get these three mindsets to work cohesively. It’s important for hotels to have seamless and convenient messaging communication across these departments so that they all share the same aligned goal. These departments are expected to be further integrated in the future but it will be a longer road to navigate. As this continues, hotels will begin integrating these with their food and beverage as well as with their wellness and spas.
Infrastructure Modifications & Sustainable Practices
It will be critical to look at how the resort infrastructure could be modified to fit a variety of events or guests’ needs. Along with the rise in these modifications and tailoring of infrastructure, we’re seeing the creation of sustainable flex spaces. These are hybrid spaces that allow for extended-stay guests or remote workers not to feel limited to their hotel room. With the rise of this “third office” concept outside of our own homes we’ll see more guests using hotels and other spaces to work anywhere in the world so long as they have quality internet connectivity.
The industry has seen that they can only impact the top-line in so many different ways so it’s important to consider how to integrate more sustainable practices. We have been seeing the advancement of sustainable technologies and programs that will continue to be implemented throughout hotels and resorts. Going forward, hotels should look at utilizing these practices whether it’s through solar energy, agricultural programs, a commitment to zero waste, local food donation programs and more. Review the various ways you could reuse/repurpose more extensively and give thought to which practices would best fit your hotel and guests.
The Covid-19 pandemic at large has been a huge disrupter in the hospitality industry in a positive way. In a few years, we’re going to look back and see that this was a catalyst for the industry that in many regards, might have been a few years behind. It has and will encourage leapfrogs in available technology and will continue to create enhancements for the guest experience and satisfaction both online and across all customer touchpoints as they arrive at the property. As this technology advances through the future and the world becomes even more connected, it’s imperative you consider how it can be translated through hospitality and how it could be used to create and elevate unique experiences for your guests. Keeping up with these trends will allow your guests to feel more connected, involved, and valued. You will then be able to build a community and guest loyalty that will keep them returning.