Today’s travellers are more tech-savvy than ever. And what they’re looking for when they travel is a connected experience, starting from before they book to after they leave the destination.
But what exactly is a connected experience? And how can you, as a hospitality professional, offer it to your guests? In this article, we’ll explain some of the steps you can take.
Technology is changing the world. Nowadays, around 67% of the world’s population have a mobile phone. So more and more, mobile devices are becoming the portal through which we experience the world.
This has huge implications for the travel industry. From research to making bookings – and beyond – travellers are using their mobile to perform steps that would previously have been done in libraries or travel agencies, or not at all.
And when they travel, these mobile users increasingly seek a connected experience. That’s a seamless experience, from start to finish. An experience where they can easily and quickly access information, make bookings, interact with other services and share their experiences.
This is where technology comes in. As a hospitality professional, technology is your path to catering to travellers’ evolving demands. And this should help you increase your revenue, save your guests time and improve their experience of your property.
1. Make sure your website is a great advert for your property
Your website is your shop window. It’s where most guests first come across your property, so you need to make a good impression. That means a professional-looking website with great photos, well organised information and, of course, a booking engine. After all, it’s no good if you’ve convinced a guest to book with you, but they then can’t make that booking in the same sitting. If you don’t have a booking engine, you’ve instantly lost a lot of that business.
2. Expand your online presence
Once you’ve got your website sorted, it’s time to make sure potential guests can find it in the first place. Set up an Instagram or Facebook account and fill it with fun, engaging and enticing photos and videos to get people interested in your property. Then, it’s a good idea to include a button where guests can book directly from there, without having to click away from the social media site they’re on. The more clicks needed to get from A to B, the more lost business.
Google My Business is another tool that can bring people to your website. With a Google My Business account, whenever somebody searches for somewhere to stay in your area, your property’s key details will appear as a business card in search results. From there, it’s just one tap on the phone screen to take them to your website, or to give you a call directly.
3. Make sure your website is mobile-ready
Having a website is great, but if it isn’t mobile-friendly, you’re missing a trick. A recent Google study has shown that in nine major markets, researching hotels and airfares on a mobile device is as common as shopping for clothing. And as many as 53% of travellers now prefer to research and book accommodation on mobile.
If you think about it, using the same website layout for both desktop and mobile makes no sense. The screens are different shapes and sizes, and people use the devices in different ways. That includes how they interact with the screen (in one case it’s with a mouse, in the other it’s with their fingers). So when your website isn’t mobile-friendly, potential guests will see a website with tiny buttons. And they’ll have to do a lot of zooming and scrolling to read and interact with any of the information on it. What happens next, logically enough, is that the user will quite simply close the window and look elsewhere.
Fortunately, it’s possible to have a website that recognises when a user is looking at it on a mobile device, and adapts its layout and sizing to that scenario. With a professional website builder, you can make sure your website is easy to navigate – and book through – on all devices.
4. Consider investing in other technology
There’s plenty of technology out there that’s designed to help you deliver a connected experience for your guests. For example, check-in apps can help get the paperwork out of the way before guests arrive, giving them a smoother arrival at your property.
Other apps allow you to increase your revenue – and improve your guest experience – by making it easy for guests to research and book other experiences. These could include visits to local attractions, on-site services like massages or even room upgrades. With these apps, you can automatically send guests these options in a professional-looking email.
What’s more, many of these apps include an interface that guests can access during their stay. Google research has shown that 48% of experience bookings happen after arrival. So making it easy for your guests to book their tours, visits and other experiences is a great way of catering to their needs, as well as making extra revenue.
There are also ways of using technology to help answer your guests’ questions. Some check-in apps let guests to interact with you via their mobile during their stay, helping you solve issues before they develop and end up as a negative review. And others use chatbot technology to answer the most common questions – as well as gather information on the kind of information that your guests tend to need to know.
As we’ve seen, mobile technology is now fully ingrained in many people’s lives. But hospitality is only just catching up. There are tech solutions designed to help hospitality professionals cater to today’s travellers, and they’re solutions that can really give you an advantage over your peers.
The time of the connected trip has arrived. Now it’s over to you to take advantage.
To find out more about the connected trip – and how innovations are shaping the travel industry – come along to Click. 2019, Booking.com’s thought leadership conference, held in Amsterdam on 10 and 11 September. At Click. 2019, you’ll get the opportunity to hear from industry leaders and network with fellow professionals from across the world of travel.