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5 Trends All Small Hotels Should Watch Out For in 2015

Rahul Das
Rahul Das

5 Hotel industry trends of 2015

We bring to you five game-changing latest trends in the hospitality industry that will impact the small and mid-sized hotel industry as well as create opportunities in the coming year 2015.

1. The Biggies Will Get Bigger

Google Hotels, Hotel Finder and Price Ads

Imagine a prospective guest searches for your hotel on Google, but your local competitors’ real-time room price pops up, with an option to book on the OTA or their website, while your organic search results are pushed down. That is just a glimpse of what Google Price Ads can do to your business. Google is slated to launch other advertising products for hotels in 2015 that will ensure the online travel booker never leaves the Google experience.

Did you Know?

– Google Hotel Ads gets the best conversion rate. (Source: WIHP)

– 22bn hotel searches are performed on Google per month. (Source: Skift)

– Approximately 10-20% of all online-booked occupancy is driven by Google properties, including Search and Hotel Ads (aka Hotel Price Ads). (Source: Koddi)

What should your hotel do?

– Be well prepared and start by creating your hotel’s presence on all tertiary Google channels like Google+, Google Places, Google Maps and Google Wallet.

– Set aside a budget to set up your account on Google Hotel Finder and participate in Price Ads to increase direct bookings.

Amazon Travel

A lot of buzz is around Amazon Travel – an OTA launching in January 2015 and how it will use TripAdvisor ratings to select hotels around NY, LA and Seattle to begin with. This will open up a lot of opportunities for small and boutique hotels. If the retail giant gets aggressive in starting a commission war by offering low initial rates, it could give hotels another strong channel for distribution. There is also a possibility of Amazon tapping into its huge database and cross-selling to offer new ways of advertising to hotels.

What should your hotel do?

– If your hotel does not have a TripAdvisor listing yet, get one today and set an aggressive plan to invite guest reviews.

– Stay tuned to the latest in the industry on January 1 as Amazon is slated to unveil it.

2. Review Media Sites Will Play A Larger Role

While TripConnect cost-per-click dominated the industry in 2014, TripConnect Instant Booking with its pay-per-booking model will be the focus in 2015. It will allow travelers to book on TripAdvisor itself without leaving the experience. The best news for hoteliers is – Unlike TripConnect CPC, where they would pay for every click regardless of travelers booking their hotel or not; in Instant Booking, they will pay only when travelers complete the booking.

What should your hotel do?

– Independent hotels should definitely participate in Instant Booking to save on costs as you pay only when you get a confirmed booking. You might want to run both the campaigns (cost-per-click and pay-per-booking) simultaneously and see which works better for your hotel before deciding to go for one.

– Keep an open eye for any new offerings from other review media sites.

3. Mobile Will Reshape Hotel Marketing

It will become difficult for your hotel to ignore the mobile medium if it wants to be a part of the larger customer mindshare. Data from 2014 indicated a rising preference for mobile and it will continue to grow in 2015, with a rising preference indicated by many hotels for mobile POS software, as per a study by Hospitality Technology.

– Millenials – 90% of millennials own a smartphone and 66% percent of them use mobile search to shop and buy travel on mobile, excluding OTAs. (Source: PhoCusWright)

– Last Minute Bookings – More than 60% of mobile hotel bookings happen within 24 hours of a stay. (Source: Orbitz & Travelocity)

– Emails Viewed on Mobile – 66% of emails were opened on a smartphone or tablet. (Source: Movable Ink)

– Social Media on Mobile – 40% of cell phone owners use a social networking site on their phone. (Source: Pew Internet Spring Tracking Survey)

What should your hotel do?

– It is important that in 2015 more than ever, your hotel integrates mobile strategy into everything you do.

Adopt SoLoMo strategy. Have a responsive website and integrate a mobile compatible booking engine on your site to allow check-ins via smart devices.

– Do not lose last minute bookings to OTAs – build on brand loyalty with a strategy to capture same day bookings.

– Evaluate software that offers services like point of sale and payment processing via mobile devices

4. Cloud Technology Will Continue To Grow

2014 saw many mergers and acquisitions in the hospitality cloud technology space. It also witnessed many legacy players venturing into cloud. With cloud-based solutions integrating better with other cloud solutions, 2015 will be the year where many smaller hotels will find it necessary to move to cloud technology – be it for revenue management, property management or guest feedback.

– According to a study, 33% of hotel and gaming companies are already using cloud-based applications for property and revenue management and up to 41% hotels planned to move to cloud systems within 18 months. (Source: Hospitality Technology Lodging Study 2014)

– Rise of bookings on smart devices means that hotels will require agile cloud systems to integrate with their mobile strategies.

What should your hotel do?

– Factor in your hotel’s requirements, marketing strategy and budgets to make cloud technology a part of your 2015 plan.

– Calculate the ROI that you will get if your hotel decides to opt for cloud technology and choose a solution that offers your business breadth and depth.

5. The Value Of The Brand Will Become Important

Increase in lifestyle brands, competition and evolved travelers will make it important for your hotel to differentiate and win market share.

– By 2015, mass market ‘lifestyle brands’ will increase in number and scale by offering a differentiated offering to consumers (credit deshawn). (Source: Deloitte Hospitality 2015 Report)

– Gen Y (born 1980-1994) are most likely to pay extra to stay at a green establishment. (Source: Deloitte Hospitality 2015 Report)

What should your hotel do?

– As a long-term strategy, create a niche in your hotel’s proposition to capture the traveller’s attention and connect on an emotional level.

– Find ways to connect to your customer and promote brand awareness on your own platforms like the website and social media channels.

Our Verdict: To stay competitive in the market, small and mid-sized hotels will have to eventually resort to technology that is agile and adaptive to deliver according to the latest trends.

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