2019 proved to be a solid year for the hotel industry. According to data released by the U.S. Commerce Department’s National Travel and Tourism Office, the number of U.S. citizens who traveled for business and leisure reached a total of 93 million this year, 9% more than in 2018.
Adam Sacks, president of consulting firm Tourism Economics, said several factors combined to create such a robust year for globetrotting Americans: tax reform measures that gave both consumers and businesses more money for travel, faster wage growth, high consumer confidence, and low unemployment.
“All this is a perfect recipe for strong outbound travel,” he said. (Source)
While all of this bodes well for the Hospitality industry, it’s important hotelier’s, in particular, are positioned to capitalize on the emerging trends slated to shape the year ahead. In this blog we’ve mapped out some important trends and potential challenges predicted to hit the hotel industry this year, and solutions for how to get in front of them.
While the Gen Zers are still primarily under the age of 20, the demographic is already on track to become the largest generation of consumers by the year 2020, and they account for $29 to $143 billion in direct spending. This generation’s preferences have far reaching consequences for hospitality, and the time is now for hoteliers to prepare for them. The key to reaching this demographic lies in personalization. Investing in solutions that focus on individualized messaging that emphasizes the benefits to the consumer, and highlights your company’s values will be crucial in earning the respect and loyalty of your Gen Z guests.
The California Consumer Privacy Act will go into effect on January 1, 2020. This bill intends to enhance privacy rights and consumer protection for residents of California. Similar to the EU’s GDPR, the CCPA will require companies that have at least $25 million in annual revenue to focus on personal user data and provide transparency in how they’re collecting, sharing and using such data. This law will provide any California consumer the right to see all the information a company has saved on them, as well as a full list of all the third parties that data is shared with. When choosing a technology partner in 2020, make sure they have strong compliance features that will allow for easy data access and the ability to delete that customer data, if necessary, at the click of a button.
As we mentioned, personalization is the name of the game when it comes to the traveler’s experiences today. Heading into 2020, customers are more apt than ever to expect relevant content in relation to what they are doing at any given place and time. To be successful, travel executives must strive to build a more relevant and personalized experience in order to differentiate their brand. Leaning into first party customer data and building individual customer profiles is a great place to start. From there, applying technologies that help make that data actionable across all systems will enable marketers within travel companies to win critical moments by responding to customer signals at any time, across any channel, thus making the customer feel valued and engendering long-term loyalty.
Sustainability is top of mind for individuals and businesses alike, more so than ever before. . According to Shelton Group, 55% of the U.S. workforce would choose to work for a socially responsible company, even if they made less money—that number jumps to 76% for Millennials. Furthermore, 70%—83% of Millennials would be more loyal to a company that helps them contribute to social and environmental issues. These statistics make it clear that sustainability, and a company’s commitment to it, is a top priority for employees. Implementing a sustainable corporate culture can help both attract and retain talent, as well as promote a strong brand image amongst increasingly eco-conscious travelers.
The online travel agency sector continues to grow and change the hotel industry’s distribution landscape. Intermediaries and distributors such as Google, Facebook, TripAdvisor and Expedia provide travelers with a convenient, cost-effective way to book their travel. This method, in turn, deters travelers from direct booking and has a negative effect on hotel margins. To combat this problem, brands need to lean on their loyalty programs and reward travelers who book direct. This sets up a win-win scenario where hotels can save money by not paying fees to OTAs and guests are rewarded for their direct booking at lower prices.
2019 proved to be a winning year for the Hospitality Industry. By staying on top of these trends as they emerge throughout 2020, Hoteliers should have the tools within their toolbox to capitalize on the strong industry growth and ensure long-term customer loyalty.