Friday, August 28, 2015

Hospitality News For The Week Of 8/28/15

Travelers’ prefer free Wi-Fi to free breakfast

A recent survey released by Agoda.com revealed the amenity preferences of over 5,000 travelers around the world. The majority would rather get free Wi-Fi service over free breakfast, but not by a wide margin. 55 percent prefer free Wi-Fi, while 45 percent would rather get breakfast for free. When asked about the accommodations, 75 percent prefer a bigger bed to a bigger bathroom, a very clear preference. Full Story Here:

Hotel Price Index Reveals Midwest, Southwest And Western Cities Are Surging Domestically 

The most popular U.S. destinations for the first half of 2015 were announced by Hotels.com, with Las Vegas, New York City, and Orlando continuing to lead as the top three respectfully. While the top ten destinations remained unchanged since 2014, the Southwest and Midwest saw surging popularity within the top fifty. The biggest gain was the Grand Canyon region climbing from outside the top fifty to number 45 on the list. Full Story Here:


STR: US results for the week ending 22 August

The U.S. hotel was up yet again in performance, as compared to the same period last year, for 16-22 August 2015. Occupancy was higher by 0.6 percent to 71.2 percent. Average daily rate climbed 3.4 percent to reach $119.75 for the week. Revenue per available room rose 4.1 percent, ending the week at $85.22. Full Story Here:

Demand Dips for North American Hotels

TravelClick has released the results of their August 2015 North American Hospitality Review which indicate a dip in demand for the third quarter of the year. Several indicating factors were down compared to the same period last year. Business occupancy, for both groups and individuals, were down 0.5 and 1.4 percent respectively in the third quarter for the top 25 North American markets. Analysts see this as a slight correction combined with the strong U.S. dollar. Full Story Here:


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Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Hotel Booking Abandonment - Part 2

Losing potential hotel guests through booking abandonment is the worst possible outcome for any hotel’s website visitors. Especially because these visitors have eschewed other channels and have made their way into a hotel’s website booking funnel, only to be lost for any number of reasons, some of which can be prevented. Recently several surveys (including the SaleCycle survey reported on in part 1) have attempted to find answers to the question of why these website visitors take the time to enter the funnel, only to bail out of the process along the way. And more importantly, what can be done to mitigate this outcome.

Reducing Hotel Booking Abandonment

  • Pricing
The SaleCycle results clearly point toward price being a crucial driving force in motivating website visitors to abandon their hotel bookings mid-stream. When asked why, many claim that they were merely looking or just getting ideas and needed more research. Consumers are continually trying to ensure themselves that they are “getting a good deal” on their purchases, especially big-ticket items such as their summer vacation.
A rather simple solution, which reassures website visitors who have entered the booking funnel, is to include a best price guarantee somewhere on pages where prices are indicated. This is vital in order to prevent site visitors from leaving and going elsewhere to seek a better price. They may not even find a better price, but may eventually book with an online travel agency or other channel because it is now in front of them and once they are gone they may not be willing to go back to book on the hotel website.
It is also essential for all pricing to be as clear as possible, since consumers seek to always know what the “real” cost to them is going to be. Any additional fees or charges must be openly stated. If potential guests feel like they are being deceived in any way, they will go somewhere else to book.

  • Simplicity and Relevance
If hoteliers are to expect their customers to book their stays directly through the hotel website, then the entire user experience must be as seamless and intuitive as possible. Simple to use and straight forward, with clearly marked calls to action is what is necessary to keep booking abandonment at a minimum. “Book Now” or “Make A Reservation” buttons should always be present on every page. Search processes should be helpful to users, leading them to the relevant results they are seeking, without confusing or irrelevant results coming back.
In the last part of this series, we will look at a few more ways in which hoteliers can reduce the number of booking abandonments of their websites.

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Monday, August 24, 2015

Hotel Booking Abandonment - Part 1

Hotels in recent years have been striving to steer their guests away from booking their stays with online travel websites (OTAs). Some degree of success has been attained in these regards, usually at great effort and expense by hotels. However, there is a leak in the booking funnels of many hotels and an acutely costly leak the hospitality industry cannot afford to ignore. The remarketing company, SaleCycle, earlier this year released the results of a combined study examining both their clients and their clients’ customers, in the travel realm. The findings are extremely eye opening for an industry seeking to keep ahead of the many outside channels competing to book their prospective guests.

The Problem

  • According to the study, 81 percent of potential guests leave the online booking process before completion. The 81 percent represents guests who have entered into actively booking their hotel stay, as opposed to all website visitors.  

When Do They Leave?

  • 53 percent give up the booking process upon seeing the price.
  • 26 percent will leave when personal information is requested.
  • 21 percent depart as soon as form of payment is required.

Why Do They Leave?

  • 39 percent were either just looking or needed to search for other offers and deals. 
  • 37 percent thought the price was too high and wanted to compare prices elsewhere.
  • 21 percent wanted to read travel reviews before making a booking decision. 
  • 13 percent found the process of booking to be too long or unnecessarily complicated.
  • 9 percent experienced technical issues.
  • 7 percent had some issue with payment or didn’t find suitable payment options.

The Upside

  • Fully 87 percent stated their intention to return and complete the hotel booking
             process.
  • 43 percent said they would return within a week.
  • 33 percent would come back to complete the booking the same day.
  • 13 percent promised to be back next week.
  • 11 percent after one week.

To begin an analysis of these results, it appears that price is the most important motivating factor driving when and if a potential guest is going to abandon the hotel booking process. Whether this is a result of the user thinking the price truly is too high, or just their need to seek a better deal, is hard to say. However, the fact remains that they do leave in large numbers. The silver lining in this report is the potential guest’s willingness to return. In the next part of this series we will take a closer look at the results of the survey and examine some steps that hoteliers can take to reverse the trend and cut down on the number of hotel booking abandonments.

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Friday, August 21, 2015

Hospitality News For The Week Of 7/21/15

Survey: Travel Intentions Remain Strong, Traveler Satisfaction on the Rise
A study released by the marketing communications firm, MMGY Global, indicates Americans intend to travel more and are satisfied with their recent trips taken. The Travelers Sentiment Index research found key indicators such as
the perception of travel affordability, personal availability of funds for travel, and interest in travel are all higher than in July 2014. The study found the highest increase was in the perceived affordability of travel. Full Story Here:

 
Guests willing to disclose personal information on hotel apps - if benefits are clear
The University of Houston’s Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management published the findings of their hotel guests to measure their willingness to share personal information with hotel apps. The study reports that over one-third of hotel guests are willing to provide personal information to hotel apps, depending on the risks versus benefits to themselves and the type of information being asked. The study recommends that hotel apps be both relevant and instill trust in users. Full Story Here:


STR: US results for week ending 15 August
The U.S. hotel industry had yet another good week, for the period between 9-15 August 2015. As compared to the same period last year, industry wide occupancy rose by 1.2 percent to reach 74.3 percent. Average daily rate increased 3.9 percent to $122.30. And revenue per available room climbed 5.1 percent, closing the week at $90.85. Full Story Here:


US Hotel Occupancy Increases 2.3% To 75.3% During July 2015
For the month of July 2015, the U.S. hotel industry reported numbers higher than the same month the previous year, July 2014. Industry wide the occupancy was up 2.3 percent at 75.3 percent, average daily rate was reported to have risen by 5.9 percent to $124.32, and revenue per available room climbed 8.3 percent to attain $93.61. The occupancy rate set a new record as the highest ever recorded for any month measured by STR, Inc. Full Story Here:


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Thursday, August 20, 2015

Hospitality News For The Week Of 8/14/15

US hotel industry eclipses 5 million rooms
The U.S. hotel industry crossed a major milestone in June 2015. For the first time in history there are now over 5 million hotel rooms across America. According to figures from STR, Inc.; the nation’s 53,554 hotel properties had 5,001,163 rooms. Since February 2008 the U.S. hotel industry has grown by and average of more than 5,600 rooms per month. Full Story Here:

STR: US results for week ending 8 August
Positive results were reported yet again by the U.S. hotel industry the week of 2-8 August 2015, as compared to the same period last year. Industry-wide occupancy was up by 1.6 percent for the week. Average daily rate rose by 4.0 percent to $123.84. Revenue per available room climbed 5.7 percent, ending the week at $95.34. Full Story Here:

Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company Leads Online Conversation Among Hotel Brands
According to rankings released by Engagement Labs, The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company leads all other hotel brands in social media engagement on both Facebook and Twitter. However, in word of mouth rankings, Hilton Hotel & Resorts lead all others. Best Western International and Marriott International were second and third ranked respectively on Facebook. Hilton Hotels & Resorts and Marriott Hotels ranked second and third place on Twitter. Full Story Here:

Proposed Expedia-Orbitz Deal Causing Widespread Concern
Industry-wide concern is mounting around the the proposed Expedia-Orbitz merger. The American Hotel & Lodging Association (AH&LA) has announced its opposition to the deal and is asking the Department of Justice to deny the proposal. The concern is that the online travel agency (OTA) market would be controlled by only two companies, Priceline and Expedia. This would create a Duopoly resulting in the potential for drastically higher booking fees charged to hotels by the OTA’s. Full Story Here:


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Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Keeping Your Office Secure

We thought we had our office relatively secure, until we had an unauthorized person enter our suite and walk through the office after hours one evening.  He immediately set the alarm off, but just took a leisurely stroll through the office anyway.  We’re not sure if he realized that we had cameras, but he didn’t seem to care that the alarm was blaring very loudly (and it is EXTREMELY loud).  He had no business being in our suite, but he was able to enter because he was working in another area of the building and had a master key.

So what should a company do to protect themselves? We’ve given this quite a bit of thought since our incident occurred. Here are a few additional security measures that we have implemented or are in the process of implementing in our office suite.

  • We already had an alarm system, so this one was already in place. This was helpful because, even though the man walked around our suite, we believe he didn’t have enough time to steal any items. Therefore, it was worth having the alarm, especially with the two additional cameras that we have through the alarm company. They recorded his movement through the office, which helped the building owners identify him.

  • Add additional cameras to make sure every area of your office is covered. We’re in the process of adding more cameras to ours.

  • If you work on a laptop computer, make sure you bring it home every evening.  If someone does enter your office, they won’t be tempted to steal yours from your desk. Laptops are easy targets for criminals to steal.  All data on computers, both desktop and laptop, should be encrypted and password protected.

  • Make sure to record all serial numbers from hardware that is in your office. If stolen, this helps in recovering these items.

  • Don’t leave any valuables lying around your office workspace. Lockup any valuables or take them home with you.

  • Keep your employees safe. Make it a rule; no one works alone at the office after hours, and the last employees leaving the suite, locks up and puts on the alarm.

  • If possible, during the day when the office is open for business, add a key fob/card entry system and add a doorbell. This will eliminate unauthorized personnel or intruders from entering undetected when everyone is busy working at their desks.

  • Be aware. When you have maintenance/service people coming into your office, ask for their ID’s to verify their presence in your suite.

So if you own a business or work in an office, implementing all or most of these precautions will help you stay safe, and keep your business from being an easy target for criminals.

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Monday, August 10, 2015

Hospitality News For The Week Of 8/7/15

Hotel Association Opposes Expedia-Orbitz Merger
The American Hotel & Lodging Association (AH&LA) has announced it is strongly opposed to the pending merger between Expedia and Orbitz. The proposed merger is currently under review by the Department of Justice. The AH&LA believes the merger would severely limit consumer choice in online travel agency hotel bookings. Additionally the majority of their members, small business owners and franchisees, would suffer from the increased fees resulting from the duopoly created by Expedia and Priceline being the only two competitors controlling 95 percent of the market. Full Story Here:

New Hotel Delivery Robot Arrives At Crowne Plaza San Jose-Silicon Valley
InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) announced that one of its Crowne Plaza brand locations in Santa Clara, California is launching robotic delivery service. The robot, called Dash, will deliver snacks, toiletries, and other items to the hotel’s guests. Dash, which is 3 feet tall and weighs less than 100 pounds, is designed to travel at the speed of a human walk. When carrying out its duties, Dash will announce its arrival by first phoning the guest, completing the delivery, and then returning to the hotel front desk. Full Story Here:

STR: US hotel results for week ending 1 August
All three key performance measurements were higher for the U.S. hotel industry for the week of 26 July to 1 August 2015, in comparison to the same period last year. According to figures released by STR, industry wide occupancy was up 1.5 percent to 77.5 percent. Average daily rate climbed by 4.6 percent to $124 by week’s end. And Revenue per available room rose by 6.1 percent, attaining $96.09 for the week. Full Story Here:

US hotel industry: Good and getting better
The Hotel Data Conference is underway in Nashville and according to presenters at conference, things look bright for hotel industry currently and in the near term. Demand for hotels is predicted by STR Analytics to grow by 2.9 percent in 2015, over 2014. PFK Hospitality Research projects a 3.4 higher growth over last year. STR reported that U.S. hotel industry figures set records in June for the highest occupancy level ever at 73.1 percent, highest room demand ever with 109 million rooms, and highest annualized occupancy of 65.2 percent. Full Story Here:


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The Internet of Things And The Hotel Experience - Part 2

The implementation of the Internet of Things into a hotel’s daily operations has the power to transform much more than merely the guest experience. The hotel staff’s abilities to perform their operational roles will be greatly enhanced, while the physical property can function at a much higher rate of efficiency. This will result in measurable cost-savings for hoteliers.

Hotel Efficiency
Hotels may now choose to arm their staff with smart tablets and mobile phones, connected in the cloud through the Internet of Things, along with software, which connects their employees together. Those hotel employees so equipped are empowered to take control and provide exceptional levels of highly individualized customer service, previously unattainable. They can then share such information with other staff members so they can benefit as well, improving the guest experience companywide.
Every aspect of the physical hotel property can also see improved levels of efficiency and function as well. IoT technology has the capability to monitor and control building energy consumption, HVAC systems, motorized systems such as elevators, and environmental factors including noise levels. Everything mechanical or electrical can become IoT enabled
Energy management is one facet of the Internet of Things adoption that stands to greatly profit hoteliers. An IoT enabled system can control much more than merely turning lights on and off. Because of the nature of the industry, hotels tend to be energy wasters. IoT can sense when guests are gone and keep power consumption under control when the room is not in use. Additionally, the IoT can monitor electrical outlets and alert hotel staff of any problems.
The energy efficiency implications of IoT for heating and air conditioning control are astounding and can be taken a step further to enable air handler motors to report when a breakdown is approaching. Mechanical devices such as elevators can send messages to their manufacturers that they require maintenance. Further, noise levels are an important point of consideration to weary travelers. IoT enabled devices can even keep track of noise and inform management if problematic levels are reached.
The Internet of Things will, in the not too distant future, transform all of our lives. Hotels stand to profit greatly, maybe even more than most industries, from its adoption.

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Wednesday, August 5, 2015

The Internet of Things And The Hotel Experience - Part 1

The inter-connection of devices, called The Internet of Things or IoT for short, promises to revolutionize our everyday lives and transform entire industries. The hospitality industry in particular stands to profit immeasurably from the implementation of connected devices in hotels. The possibilities for improved customer service enabled by new technologies will no doubt result in higher ratings on travel sites for any hotel that embraces IoT upgrades to their property. Additionally, greater efficiency in hotel operations will be a beneficial outcome as well.

Customer Service
The technological changes brought about by hotels integrating the Internet of Things into their everyday operations has the power to markedly enhance the hotel guest experience on many levels. Every aspect of the guest’s hotel stay, before, during and after will be transformed by the implementation of IoT.

1. Before Guest Stay
The ubiquity of smartphones and other mobile devices allows hoteliers to interact in a meaningful way with guests before and at their arrival on property. Online hotel booking and the expanding use of mobile payments ensures that hotels and their guests are technologically engaged in advance of the stay. Upon arrival, the profound guest experience transformation will begin. Consumers are looking for ways to streamline their lives, particularly when traveling, and standing in a line at a hotel is something they can certainly do without. This is especially true in light of the stresses encountered in the current transportation experience, whether flying or driving. The hotel check-in merely becomes the receipt of an electronic key sent to the guest’s smartphone, tablet, or wearable device. The door recognizes the owner’s device, enabling entrance to the room.

2. During Guest Stay
The adoption of the Internet of Things offers hoteliers the opportunity to truly revolutionize how guests experience their stays. IoT can enable guests to control every facet of their room from a hotel provided, multi-purposed tablet or other device. Everything from entertainment, lighting, and environmental controls, to even ordering room service or more towels can be accomplished at the touch of a finger. Their setting preferences may be saved and then revert back to hotel chosen standard settings upon check-out. Upon arrival at the hotel for their next stay, these preferences can be returned as well. This can even be taken a step further with voice and motion activation technology.
Touchscreens can be made available throughout the accommodations, providing guests all the information they need to optimize their stay enjoyment. This may yet include touchscreen bathroom mirrors, for example, which are enabled with interactive displays providing guests relevant information such as weather and news. Bluetooth technology can also pair the guest’s smart device to the mirror as well. The possibilities offered by IoT adoption are nearly limitless.

3. After Guest Stay
IoT technology promises an extremely personalized hotel experience for guests. Since their preferences regarding nearly every aspect are saved and can be brought about upon their return, each hotel stay is uniquely tailored around the individual guest’s likes and dislikes. All of this information is enabled by the collection of Big Data.
At check-out time, like check-in, the guest merely leaves the hotel. Room heat sensors can inform the front desk and housekeeping personnel when guests have departed. Here is where a vibrant social media presence makes a difference in fostering a real personal relationship between guest and hotel.
In part two of this series, we will explore the ways in which hoteliers can improve hotel efficiency levels across the board through implementing the Internet of Things into everyday hotel operations.

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Monday, August 3, 2015

Hospitality News For The Week Of 7/31/15

 

Survey finds Wi-Fi now considered a utility, not an amenity

 

A recently published survey found that Wi-Fi is now a utility in the minds of a majority of hotel guests, not unlike water or electricity. The study conducted by Hotel Internet Services, polled 500 hotel guests and approximately 200 hoteliers seeking their opinions on the subject. An important takeaway from the survey is the desire of hotel guests for free Wi-Fi combined with their willingness, a 53 percent majority, to pay extra for broader bandwidth. Full Story Here:

 

STR: US hotel results for week ending 25 July

 

Figures from STR indicate that U.S. hotels recorded positive numbers industrywide for the week of 19-25 July 2015. Compared to the same time period last year, occupancy was up 1.5 percent to 79.1 percent. Average daily rate during the week was higher by 5.1 percent, reaching $125.04. An increase of 6.6 percent was attained for the week in revenue per available room, rising to $98.91 for the week. Full Story Here:

 

Led By Profits, E-Forecasting.com U.S. Hotel Industry Leading [HIL] Indicator Rose In June

 

Future business activity at U.S. hotels is predicted to be positive, according to industry growth rate projections by e-forecasting.com. The composite indicator for hotels rose by 0.6 percent during June 2015, reaching 122.3, this followed an increase 0.4 percent in May. The benchmark figure is set at 100 for the year 2005. The projections cite lower energy costs resulting in greater consumer confidence and their increased willingness to travel. Full Story Here:

 

[Infographic] Sojern’s Q2 Global Travel Insights Report Uncovers New Globally Trending Destinations and Offers Travel Forecast

 

In its Q2 2015 Global Travel Insights Report, Sojern has indicated a general trend among worldwide travelers to seek nearby travel destinations. The study points out how travelers are foregoing long distance travel and instead making more local and regional trips. The United States, Spain, and Italy were the three most searched for destinations, While London was the most highly sought after city in the world. Full Story Here:

 


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Hotels And Leisure Travelers - Part 2

While airlines have found their various loyalty programs to be remarkably fruitful in garnering loyal passengers, hotels have not achieved the same level of success with their programs. Recently, the travel research firm, Phocuswright, reported that only 47 percent of leisure travelers in the U.S. belong to a hotel brand loyalty program. In contrast, roughly 8 in 10 air travelers belong to an airline loyalty program. Furthermore, Phocuswright has found that even though 65 percent of all U.S. travelers chose airlines for their mode of travel, a compelling 93 percent chose a hotel for their accommodations at least once in the same year. These figures indicate the vast potential for growth in hotel loyalty programs, particularly in regards to leisure travelers.

 

Earning And Keeping Hotel Leisure Traveler Loyalty

The Phocuswright report offers this possible explanation for this disparity. The differences between the nature of the airlines and hotels may provide some answers as to why this is the case. For example, there are ample choices for travelers to select from among hotel brands, while the airline industry provides much fewer choices. But the study does show that there is ample room for improvement in guest participation among the hotel industry’s loyalty programs.

Building customer loyalty among the ranks of the leisure traveler may prove challenging for any hotel. However, there are a number of changes and additions hotels can implement which may prove pleasing to leisure travelers. A recent study by hotels.com separated what is most important to leisure travelers, from hotel perks which are just not of any significance to them. Here are a few takeaways from their research.

 

1. Free Wi-Fi -

This hotel perk is still significant for leisure travelers, although to a lesser extent than for business travelers. Nevertheless, 53 percent, a full majority of U.S. leisure travelers would like to see free Wi-Fi become standard at all hotels. One quarter make their booking decision based on this hotel offering as a must-have criteria for patronage.

 

2. Free Breakfast -

Food and beverage items make up the second most compelling group of hotel perks sought by leisure travelers. In the survey, 22 percent of U.S. vacationers consider a free breakfast offering essential in making their hotel booking decisions. 27 percent would like to see free breakfast become the standard by which all hotels operate. Furthermore, 32 percent think complimentary in-room bottled water should be included in their accommodations. By contrast, a commonly found amenity in many hotels, the minibar, is declining in importance for leisure travelers. Nearly a quarter of U.S. leisure travelers say they never use them.

 

3. In-Room Conveniences

Hi-tech conveniences in hotel rooms are another amenity desired by leisure travelers. 22 percent of those surveyed would like to have their accommodations feature one remote control with multiple functionality. Another 15 percent would like to have docking stations for their devices in every room as well. On the other hand, phones in bathrooms are not used by very many, and cordless phones are not considered necessary or desired at all.

Some hotels have also garnered higher rates of leisure traveler participation in loyalty programs by offering borrowing policies, which provide commonly needed items for guests. This enables them to pack less for their vacations. Clearly, as shown in the Phocuswright report, there is a great opportunity for hoteliers to build upon and grow their leisure guest loyalty.  


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