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Holidaying at home is here to stay - how hoteliers can best prepare

Updated: May 24, 2023



The latest GO Technology report from leading hospitality tech provider Zonal and insight firm CGA by NIQ points to this summer being a bumper one for the hotel industry, with 81% of consumers planning to stay in a UK hotel this year. The recent survey of more than 2,000 UK consumers highlights the continued opportunity for domestic hotel visits in 2023, with nearly 44% of consumers saying they will avoid hotel stays overseas due to the cost-of-living increases and a further 39% stating they would be ‘staycationing’ simply because they would prefer to travel within the UK rather than abroad this year, up 12% from 2022.


With these factors, coupled with a concern for the environmental impact of air travel, plus a recently rekindled love for the Great British holiday following the pandemic pointing to a staycation boom, Zonal’s latest findings highlight where the opportunities lie for operators and how they can best prepare.


1. The power of direct – how hoteliers can grow their business this summer and beyond


There is significant potential for hoteliers to boost their revenue this year and improve the guest experience by driving direct bookings.


With only 33% of recent hotel guests saying they trust sites such as booking.com, there is an opportunity for hoteliers who can emphasise the trustworthiness of their direct booking systems and leverage the trust in their brand to encourage guests to instead book direct. However, with just less than half of consumers (41%) stating they trust hotel websites as a way to book, there is still some work to be done.


Hoteliers need to clearly communicate how reliable the systems they use are, ensure the booking process is frictionless and be clear about how guest data will be used and stored if they are to overcome this barrier. With our research highlighting that only half of hotel guests finding hotel websites easy to use, hoteliers need to look closely at their hotel website, ensuring it is user-friendly, includes up-to-date information and offers customers a seamless booking journey. Having an obvious booking button on your website, which takes guests through to a simple booking page that enables them to quickly and easily reserve a room, add optional extras and pay a deposit, if required, is key to achieving this.


2. The third-party way – the value of Online Travel Agents as part of the marketing mix


Despite direct bookings being an important opportunity for hoteliers, hoteliers cannot afford to ignore OTAs altogether. Our research shows that third-party booking apps, or (OTAs), are used by more than a third (37%) of consumers to find rooms.


Third-party booking sites are a vital part of the marketing mix for hotels, offering access to new customers and brand exposure that drives a significant amount of business. Hoteliers, however, should be clear in their objectives for these channels, if they are to obtain the best results. For example, is the intention to fill rooms during quieter periods, reach new customers or something else? It’s important to establish the role OTAs will play within the business and to stick to these, if they are to be a truly valuable tool.


Our research also uncovered that only half of hotel guests are aware of the commission paid by hoteliers to such sites. Even more interestingly, the majority of them said knowing this would make them likely to reject third-party sites in favour of booking direct. Educating consumers, then, around how aggregator sites are funded will be key for hoteliers looking to make cost savings and drive direct bookings.


3. Thinking ahead – what hotel amenities consumers expect to see in the future


Looking forward, when it comes to what consumers want from technology in hotels, our research indicates they are primarily focused on staying connected and making their stay more seamless.


When asked about different technologies, 77% of consumers said in-room wireless charging ports in rooms would appeal to them. Next most popular are solutions for tasks like ordering towels (72%), mobile guides to the area (65%) and in-room tablets to control room facilities (64%). Innovations including tech lounges (46%) and online concierges (44%) are attractive too.


With around a third of consumers stating that they used automated check-in (32%) and check-out (30%) during 2022, this feature is likely to become an integral part of the hotel experience in the years ahead. There is a clear demand for it: nearly half (46%) of consumers say they would prefer to book a hotel that offers online check-in and check-out—rising to 61% of 18 to 34 year-olds.


There are also some consumers that would go as far to say that they would like a fully digitalised experience, with two thirds (67%) of 18- to 34-year-olds saying they would be likely to stay in an unmanned or smart hotel. But they don’t appeal to everyone, and fewer than a quarter (23%) in the 55+ age group would stay in one. Among those who are turned off by the idea, 85% say it is because they prefer human interaction.


This is an important reminder that whilst there is a clear consumer demand for hotels to provide more tech-led amenities, which serve to provide a more seamless guest experience, technology and human interaction must work hand-in-hand to achieve the right balance of digital and face-to-face solutions, and ensuring that tech facilitates rather than diminishes the warm welcome and customer service that hospitality is best-known for.

Written by: Stewart Moss, Managing Director at High Level Software, part of the Zonal family


To download the full report, please click here




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