‘Customer-First Approach’ and ‘Innovation & Technology’. We stole these words from an advert for Allianz travel insurance.
They’re some of the first words you’ll read if you flick through Skift’s latest Megatrends Defining Travel report.
They also neatly sum up two key motifs from the London launch of the report at onefinestay HQ – which a few of us popped along for.
Here are our top 3 takeaways for hotels.
The hotel of the future needs to be everything to everyone
In Hot in the Kitchen 2017, we wrote about how hotels – faced with dwindling occupancy rates – would focus on improving their F&B offer to increase revenue from guests and non-guests alike.
In 2018, Skift predicts we’ll see hotels stretch their diversification even further.
The meteoric rise in popularity of alternative lodgings like Airbnb has shown hotels that experience – in this case, the authentic experience of ‘living like a local’ – is indeed high on consumers’ priorities.
So Skift predicts hotels will ‘double down’ on the sort of experiences they can most easily provide. Specifically, a true sense of community. So – the audience were told – we can expect hotel spaces to become more fluid, to become converging points for co-working, co-living, co-everything.
Travel brands are becoming ‘experience platforms’
In a similar blurring of lines, we can also expect travel brands to spread their wings beyond their traditional siloes – as they look to tap into other elements of consumers’ travel experiences.
Airbnb Trips, for example, marks the accommodation facilitator’s foray into in-destination experiences.
And just today – 19 January 2017 – Ryanair began a series of open days in cities across Europe, starting in London, encouraging hoteliers to list their rates and availability directly on the Ryanair Rooms website
Little can stop Google Flights and Hotels from continuing to take market share
We caught up with Skift CEO and founder Rafat Ali at the end of the evening. And perhaps the most important takeaway for hotels was what he had to say about Google’s product-led vision: ‘If anyone can weave together the whole travel journey – discovery, planning, in-destination – Google can’.
As the report points out, there are many factors that make Google such a contender to dominate the end to end experience. Not least of all its speedy response time, enhanced focus on user experience, and utter dominance in search.
What does it mean for hotels? Take just one product example – Google Hotel Ads. It’s already beginning to rival leading online travel agents (OTAs) in terms of the guest volumes it delivers.
But the ads convert at a much higher rate than conventional PPC ads for hotels in Google (because people who input dates and rates criteria in their searches are way closer to making a purchase than those who are window shopping).
And because Google Hotel Ads encourage direct bookings – hotels get to wrestle back control of the guest relationship from OTAs.
Worrying news for OTAs.
Game-changer for independent hotels?