Keeping up with the ever-changing — and ever-increasing — desires and demands of today’s digital and discerning guests is a challenging task. Near impossible, you might even say. But what is possible is to have a pretty good idea of what will be some of the most important hotel guest expectations in 2019.
We’ve taken a look at the top 2019 hospitality trends from the guest perspective. Summarized here, our findings highlight what guests are expecting this year from their hotel amenities, their booking experience, and the reputation of the properties they choose to book.
Recognizing and then providing what your guests expect from their stay with you will not only help you satisfy them at your property, but also inspire them to book with you in the first place.
So here’s what guests will likely be expecting from their hotel stays in 2019:
What guests expect from their hotel amenities
To have the basics covered
We’re now subject to a lot of hype surrounding new technologies. We also hear a lot about deep personalization and trends like wellness travel. But before accepting payment in bitcoin or adding in-room fitness facilities at your property, it’s worth evaluating if you have the basics covered.
A 2018 study from the Cornell University School of Hotel Administration found the most frequently used in-room amenities were still the essentials such as a closet, complimentary toiletries, television, hairdryer safe, and iron. Furthermore, while guests anticipated using certain amenities such as an alarm clock, gym, and room-service, their actual usage of these was well below expectation. On the other hand, the usage of amenities such as valet parking, lobby seating, and concierge were ultimately higher than expected.
To use their smartphone for everything
The market penetration of smartphones is now almost universal, so it’s unsurprising that guests now take for granted being able to keep their mobile devices online and powered up during their hotel stay. A survey by Openkey showed that 98% expect high-speed Wi-Fi and 88% expect device charging ports.
However, the survey also showed more than half of guests expect to use their smartphone as a room key and to be able to pay for their stay with mobile payment services.
To be in control of their data
Guests are increasingly demanding more personalized experiences. Repeat visitors may expect you to anticipate their needs based on their last stay, and to only send marketing materials that fit their profile. However, many guests are also reluctant to provide information about themselves and are uncomfortable with having data collected about them at all.
However, a recent report from Salesforce shows that, overwhelmingly, what customers want from companies is simply transparency and control over their data. Even more positively, survey respondents said that increasing the level of trust would make them more likely to recommend the company, spend more money, and share their experiences.
What guests expect from the booking experience
To find your hotel on metasearch
A 2018 report from EyeforTravel showed that 73% of travelers regularly use metasearch. Guests expect to find your hotel on metasearch, and you’ll now need a complete and standout profile if you want to capture and pique their interest.
Metasearch also represents a huge opportunity to promote your hotel’s direct rates to guests online and increase the number of direct bookings you generate. A new study from Phocuswright shows that nearly two-thirds of independent properties now receive direct bookings from metasearch. Rate Connect enables you to publish your website rates on trivago through a cost-per-click (CPC) campaign that brings the traveler straight to your website to complete their booking.
Compete with booking channels
To be inspired
A survey from Expedia looked at how different nationalities planned their holidays. It showed the majority of respondents, from all countries, were looking for inspiration when planning a trip. It also found that most travelers were also deciding between two or more destinations for their holiday.
So when planning out your marketing materials and social media presence, it can be beneficial not just to showcase your hotel, but also your whole destination. Offering tips about what potential visitors can see and do, as well as stunning photography of your location, could help tip the decision in your favor.
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What guests expect from the hotel experience
To have a local experience
The current guest experience trend is for guests to want a stay that feels authentic to their destination, as well as unique. For room design and décor, this can mean reflecting the character of the city or neighborhood, while also making each room distinct in some way. This can be achieved by partnering with local artists and artisans, and letting guest know about any bespoke design features.
You can also showcase local experiences and activities and consider teaming up with local guides or tour operators.
To enjoy the local culinary offerings
The latest food trend is for more home-grown cuisine, made from local produce, possibly even from your property’s own garden. Alternatively, you can also showcase what your area has to offer by partnering with local restaurants to enable guests to order in-room from local eateries, or provide food experiences such as food trucks or pop-up restaurants.
To feel like they’re at home
While it might seem contradictory to getting a local experience, guests are also keen to have the comforts of home. This can include technology they are used to such as streaming video services, like Netflix, digital voice assistance, or something as simple as an in-room coffee maker (which was expected by 59% of guests in the Cornell study). It also is reflected in the growing shift to apartment-style accommodations with kitchen facilities and more residential-feeling spaces.
What guests expect from hotel reputation
To interact on social media
The travel experience has been fundamentally transformed by social media. This has affected every stage of the customer journey, especially for millennial travelers.
In the planning phase, social media provides inspiration, with a recent study showing 83% of millennials say they would be more likely to book a hotel after seeing images of it from someone they follow on social media. One in four said they use social media sites to find accommodation directly.
At the booking stage, guests also expect to engage with hotels and use social media to read reviews and understand the reputation of a hotel. It’s important to keep on top of comments on your social media pages and respond to any negative feedback.
And during the stay, guests will want to share their experiences: 97% of millennials now share photos and videos of their travels online. Make it easy for guests to showcase your hotel by providing Instagram-worthy photo opportunities and sharing your social media accounts and relevant hashtags with guests.
To stay in an environmentally sustainable hotel
Guests are becoming increasingly environmentally conscious. A report from Hilton revealed that 20% of respondents said they actively seek out a hotel brand’s environmental and social efforts before booking.
Highlight your eco-friendly initiatives such as waste reduction and recycling programs, renewable energy and water saving initiatives, use of local and organic produce, or the availability of electric car recharging stations.
Featured image credit: Vita Vilcina at Unsplash