Today’s traveler is tech-savvy, well-researched and has very different expectations from a trip and hotel stay than he would have in the past. Hoteliers need to understand these changing traveler expectations to truly enhance service levels.
For the new-age travelers, going to a local travel agent is passé. It is the internet that rules their lives and defines every activity.
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Let’s take a look at what the overall global picture indicates:
– The Rise of the SoLoMo Traveler
The traveler is always on social media (So), browsing maps for locations (Lo) and exploring on the smartphone (Mo). This kind of traveler comes with the expectation of real-time service at the fingertips. A look at the below data suggests that a large number of travelers spend time on their mobile for different purposes related to travel and stay.
– Higher Service Level Expectations
Today’s traveler has vast exposure to varied and unique experiences. He consumes a lot of information via travel blogs, review sites, social media and friends. He is also using the online platform for shopping personal items, paying electricity bills, purchasing flight tickets and booking hotel stays which raises his expectations of instant service. He expects tech-friendly options that can be operated on his own, like self-check-in kiosks, touchscreen menus at the restaurant and even hotel/travel apps to prepare better for the trip.
– Green & Clean Make Them Happy
The traveler of today is not just tech-savvy but also eco-conscious. He is more keyed in to environment-friendly practices and prefers green options for stay. There is definitely a preference for hotels that make an effort to reduce the global carbon footprint. A look at the popularity of green listings on reservation sites like Travelocity and Expedia bear testimony to the fact. TripAdvisor’s GreenLeaders Program is another case in point. Also, according to research by PhocusWright, 66% of U.S. travelers think that their travel choices can make a difference to the environment.
It is not just green, but also clean that works for today’s traveler. Any laxity in that aspect can quickly find its way to online review sites. It is a basic expectation from hotels which can make a huge difference in the number of stars your review gets or the probability of guests returning.
– Security Matters
With a rise in people traveling away from home, there is an expectation of increased security and comfort at hotels. Guests expect a secure environment not just for themselves but also their valuables and personal data. Whether the hotel has systems in place to protect the guest’s credit card information, keep their personal belongings safe, call a doctor in case of emergencies or ensure fire safety, can go a long way in creating positive guest experience.
While it may not be possible for a small or mid-sized hotel to work on making changes as per all the above guest expectations at once, it is also not in their best interest to do nothing. Pick up one or two trends and make changes in the aspect that you think will have the maximum impact. Starting off small and then making bigger changes is the best way to go for smaller hotels.
For example, if you want to make changes in greening your hotel, do simple things like getting rid of plastic bottles for toiletries and putting up signs encouraging the guests to adopt green practices, before moving on to bigger changes like key card systems, energy and water control. Every bit can go a long way in improving the guest experience, as the evolved traveler is looking for something extra.