Are the region’s hoteliers seizing the opportunities with innovative solutions to meet the changing habits and demands of travelers?
According to the World Tourism Organization, international tourist arrivals grew 4% from January to June 2019, compared to the same period last year.
Asia Pacific recorded above world average growth (+6%), largely fueled by Chinese outbound travel. Singapore alone welcomed 12.8 million visitors in January to August 2019, an almost 2% increase from the same time last year.
What does all this mean for the hospitality industry that has been undergoing tremendous changes and disruptions over the last two decades? Brad Haines, VP for Asia Pacific at SiteMinder, feels the surge in worldwide interest in Asia has created opportunity like never before.
The question is: are the region’s hoteliers seizing the day?
What are some key changes in hotel booking habits and guest behavior, and how can hoteliers address them?
Brad: The biggest change has been the macro shift from offline to digital. Many hoteliers today still operate with pen and paper, or spreadsheets, taking reservations only via walk-ins, over the phone or email. Consequently, they miss the opportunity to be found where their guests are now searching and that’s online. A significant portion of Asia’s small independent hotels, especially those outside of the main tourism hubs, continue to run their business this way and it is really for those hotels that technology like SiteMinder’s, which allows them to be visible online, is powerful. It levels the playing field, by providing those hotels with the same technology that was once only accessible to the world’s largest hotel brands and chains.
Since partnering with SiteMinder in late 2014, Fragrance Hotels has saved approximately 120 hours of manpower each month. Many guests are now mobile-first, especially in their dreaming, research and planning phase. We see the emergence of more mobile-first travelers even getting to the point of booking their hotel room from a hotel’s lobby. So, they are more spontaneous and it’s for that reason that hotels need technology like SiteMinder’s, which allows them to be bookable any time of day. The modern guest is more open to a wider range of accommodation offerings. We are seeing the Japanese-style, pod hotel becoming more popular, for example, where a guest just needs a bed.
In addition, we’re seeing a trend around experience-seeking travelers looking for something different and off the beaten path. This behavior goes hand-in-hand with the growing need for personalisation. Guests today demand choice, but they also expect hoteliers to understand their name and favorite drink upon arrival. So, hotels must always seek to provide a guest experience that’s authentic and memorable, and adopting technology that enables them to understand their guests’ behaviors better goes a long way in this regard.
In an age of rising choice and accessibility for travelers, how can hoteliers leverage technology to make a difference?
Brad: Never before have seen the diversity of accommodation products so readily available to a guest as we do today. This has created a new competitive dynamic where the smaller independent accommodation providers have the ability to capture guests in the same way the large hotel chains do.
Technology is paramount in helping hoteliers to control the complexities of the new online environment. Technology can help them to control their product offering and maintain consistency across a diverse range of different marketing and sales channels.
Technology doesn’t have to just be used for controlling rates and inventory; we see it being used by hotels to enhance the experience of the guests pre, during and post-stay.