The way we travel is constantly changing – especially in an age where technology is so integrated into our daily lives. But what exactly can we expect in 2019? To help accommodation owners stay up to date with the market, BookingSuite has published its guide to 2019’s top travel trends.
All these trends are areas where technology can help people who run hotels, apartments and B&Bs – no matter how big or small they are. What’s more, you don’t have to be a computer expert to put them into practice. They’re all simple concepts that can have a significant impact on your revenue, your online reviews and your guests’ travel experience.
In this blogpost, we’ll look at how travel experiences are taking off – and how you can take advantage.
What are guests buying when they click ‘reserve’?
Let’s start with a question. When a guest books a stay at your property, what is it they’re actually buying? Is it a comfortable bed? Is it your famously tasty croissants? Or is it actually the chance to explore the city or countryside around your place?
The answer is that it’s all those things and more. When they click the ‘reserve’ button, they’re signing up for an experience.
This has always been true, but never more so than now. Surveys suggest that nowadays, 60% of travellers value experiences over material possessions, and 47% plan to spend more on activities, entertainment and attractions during 2019. This makes hotel bookings the ideal launchpad for a wider experience that can include any number of things beyond the basic product of a bed for the night.
Here are four easy ways you can use technology to enhance the travel experience for today’s connected traveller.
1. Use your website to sell bookers an experience
Since more and more travellers are seeking experiences beyond their hotel room, the best place to start is showing them what those experiences are. Are there amazing walking routes near your property or is there a theme park that kids will love? What about local restaurants where they can enjoy traditional food from your area? All these things will help sell your property to potential guests, so including them on your website is a must.
If your place has a social media account, you might consider making a short video to really get people excited about what they can do near you. This kind of content is perfect for sharing, so if you can post a video that people connect with, then you should see them sharing it with their friends – opening yourself up to a wider audience.
2. Highlight your best guest reviews
In the world of the connected traveller, online reviews are a key part of researching trips. The numbers are overwhelming. A massive 96% of travellers consider reviews important when researching a place to stay, for example. Seeing how other guests experience a place plays a crucial role in the decision-making process.
So if someone’s left a great review about their experience at your property, that should be something that you highlight on your website. Pick out some of the best and make sure they’re clearly visible for anyone who lands on your site. Firstly, it’ll reassure them that real people have enjoyed their stay with you. This is known as social validation. Secondly, if the review mentions other activities that they enjoyed during their stay, it’ll help to get potential bookers visualising a great overall experience (something that more and more travellers are explicitly seeking out).
3. Use simple guest messaging technology to tailor your offering
In 2019, the world is more connected than ever. 60% of adults worldwide now own a smartphone, so having conversations with others has never been easier.
With so many travellers now using messaging apps on a daily basis, hospitality professionals have an opportunity to improve their guests’ stay in a way that fits seamlessly into their normal patterns of behaviour.
The classic example of first contact is a welcome email with your phone number and driving directions. While we’d always recommend this kind of contact, guest messaging technology can help you take this idea further. With a guest messaging app, it’s easier to find out what type of activities your guests want to explore – which means you can then provide extra, relevant information or even book their activity for them. All of which ensures a better stay for the guest, a better impression of your property and a better review score for your listing.
Messaging apps aren’t limited to pre-stay fact-finding, either. They can work just as effectively when it comes to offering your guests the best possible service while they’re actually staying with you. If they need help with something – extra towels, for example – a quick and easy message can stop a minor issue turning into a negative review further down the line. And post-stay contact could include a ‘thank you’ message with a discount code for future stays.
4. Incorporate experiences into your promotions
As we’ve seen already, more and more guests are approaching travel as an overall experience – and booking accommodation as a jumping-off point. With so many people looking to plan and book activities beyond the hotel stay, professionals in the hospitality industry have an enormous opportunity to turn that to their advantage with upsells and promotions.
You may be able to run activities at your property – if that’s the case, great! You could offer them as add-ons, or as a package alongside a slightly reduced room rate. For example, if you’re an expert in the kitchen, you could create a cookery class package where guests can learn all about your local cuisine.
If you can’t offer on-site activities, there’s no need to worry. Local attractions of all sizes are often keen to partner up with accommodation providers who can bring them more business. That could include anything from painting classes to river cruises. Start by getting a detailed picture of what’s on offer around you, no matter how weird or wonderful. Then, you can look into using upsell and promotions technology to sell these activities to guests as a part of their overall stay.
Want to know what the other 2019 trends are?
As today’s travellers become more connected, and as their trips become more experience-driven, so the ways of improving your revenue and guest satisfaction increase. It’s just a question of exploring your area – and exploring ways of bringing your guests closer to the experience they’re after.
To read about what else guests expect this year – and to see how you can take advantage – download BookingSuite’s guide to 2019’s travel trends.