If there is one thing that everyone can agree on concerning travel in 2012, it is that today’s travelers are more in the know than they have ever been. Rarely does anyone plan a trip without first checking into their destination via online reviews, peer recommendations, and property websites.
In a recent article by USA Today, Choice Hotels CEO Steve Joyce says, “I don’t know any segment of the business where people aren’t demanding more value, and I think that will remain until people feel like they have recovered their wealth, which is going to be 10 years from now. It’s free Internet, free parking, free breakfast and other services they want but don’t want to pay additional for.”
Guest experience has always been the driving force behind the hospitality industry, and this new generation of tech-savvy travelers is raising the bar for hotel owners everywhere. It is no longer enough to have the best photos, the best marketing strategy, or to coast on reputation. “Travel destinations are working harder and harder to retain credibility in the age of the incredulous.” (via Larry Mogelonsky)
A current study by Hospitality Technology shows that the second biggest IT concern for hotels is that guests expect more, and that more 50% of hotel decision-makers are planning to implement technology that allows guests to manage their own hotel experience while on the property.
The wording of that phrase is very important, because it points to how well-informed today’s guests are before they even arrive at their destination. They want to create their own experience, and need only the tools to do so. Many hotels are using customized smart phone apps to achieve better service for tech-savvy guests, and some are integrating guest-facing technology that allows travelers to view and interact with hotel and local information, weather, flight times, and more.
Travel technology is growing by leaps and bounds, and guest expectations are on the rise. Where do you think hotel owners should focus their technology budget?