In a little less than a month 2016 will come to an end, and we will welcome in a New Year. It also means it’s that time of year again where companies, regardless of the nature of their business are releasing their predictions for 2017 and the Priceline Group are first to the post with its travel technology outlook for the year ahead. Topping their list of eight predictions for 2017 is a greater desire by guests for instant gratification.
They believe that we will turn to technology even more to “eradicate any and all on-the-road niggles, to deliver answers to our specific needs in the moment and enhance our experience with recommendations and short-cuts we haven’t yet even thought of” – although it kind of sounds like we do that already? However, the main difference here is that Priceline predicts that our favourite go-to apps will go beyond their current mere functionality and evolve into real companions or “travel besties” as they have dubbed them and they can predict our own unique needs and catering to them before we even must ask. Basically, smart technology is about to get smarter and technology will mould to our preferences to solve every question, whim and wish in real-time – seamless assistance at your fingertips.
And it’s a predication that seems quite plausible. A decade ago, we were far less demanding and so much more adaptable in terms of what was acceptable. However, technology has changed how guests expect to be served and how hotels deliver on those expectations. Customer satisfaction now extends beyond human interaction. Travellers are now more self-sufficient and expect instant gratification; they are looking for hotels that offer quick, but highly personalized service.
Mobile technology has trained consumers to expect instant gratification whether it’s finding a cab with Uber or a movie with Netflix all of which are fuelling a more demanding and impatient traveller. Per Priceline, 44% of travellers already expect to be able to plan their holiday in a few simple taps of their smart phone and over half (52%) expect their use of travel apps to increase in 2017. Another study from The Center for Hospitality Research at Cornell University confirms the desire for travellers to retain greater control of their stay through mobile; researchers found guests generally wanted greater automation of a wide variety of procedures and interactions, such as, receiving a notification on their device when their room is ready, requesting hotel amenities, checking in and out of the hotel, and ordering room service. Guests are also interested in looking at more information about their hotel, including upgrading a room before checking in, requesting reservations for on- and off-site restaurants, or having the valet retrieve the car.
The good news story is that some hoteliers have already begun offering automation and self-service options as well as availing of customer data to provide a more customised experience. With the predication that guests will turn to technology even more so to eliminate travel headaches, Priceline believes that brands will be well equipped and empowered to deliver instant gratification. Thanks to meaningful functionality in mobile technology, app service providers will be able to aid hoteliers to predict individual traveller needs and provide real-time assistance.
And while it might sound like it’s all about the guest, using apps in addition to enhanced service for the guest, hotel operators gain the ability to gather guest data, understand guest behaviours, facilitate with an endless array of upsell opportunities and provide an opportunity to monetize on guest preferences. They can also use data to make business decisions surrounding marketing, distribution and pricing
Today’s traveller is connected and on-demand mobile services can bring unprecedented convenience, customization, and comfort to guests while increasing efficiency, feedback, and morale for staff—all of which translate to higher revenue. With the demand for instant gratification predicate to rise, hotels that make a difference to ensure guests maximize their time in all the right ways via technology are poised to win with profits, heightened guest satisfaction and customer loyalty.