Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Chatbots For Hotels - Part 2

Chatbots are proving to be a great way for hoteliers to automate their responses to some of the more routine requests made by their guests. Today’s hotel guest expects quick answers to any questions they may have and the rapid resolution of any issues, which may arise during their stay. Chatbots are a valuable tool available to hotels for providing excellent customer service more efficiently.

More than merely a tool for improving hotel guest service communication efficiency, chatbots offer a number of other advantages to hoteliers when implemented. They are capable of completely managing nearly every aspect of a hotel guest’s stay, from booking and arrival on-property, to check out, and beyond. The learning ability of chatbots aids them in more effectively leveraging direct bookings. After an initial investment, chatbots can also provide hoteliers with significant cost reductions as well in the form of automating many labor-intensive tasks. For example, simple notifications to guests, which might normally be made by front desk staff regarding subjects such as room availabilities, check-out times, or ancillary service reservations may be completed by a chatbot messenger.

Chatbots also have the capability to incorporate machine learning into the completion of their tasks, empowering them to offer hotel guests an extremely high degree of customer personalization. Powerfully relevant marketing messages may be created for each guest going forward as the chatbot learns their preferences, resulting in maximized revenue generation from every stay. Following the hotel stay, chatbots are highly effective for maintaining contact with the guest. To past guests, they can pass along relevant promotional offers based on data gathered from previous stays, feedback surveys, and other brand loyalty incentives.

Some best practices for implementing chatbots into any hotel’s guest services should include ensuring the brand’s website always offers the best rates of any booking platform before hand. The hotel website also needs to be fully optimized for mobile devices, where most travel searches are initiated. The user experience should be highly visual and intuitive, with clear calls to action along the user’s path. Additionally, at all points of the chatbot involvement in the guest experience, customers should also have access to an easy opt-out, with the option of speaking to and/or seeking the assistance of a live human agent at any time.

Chatbots add one more means for hoteliers to provide their guests with an elevated guest experience while driving up direct bookings, resulting in rising revenues for the hotel.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Hospitality News For The Week Of 1/26/18

ALIS: Strong demand to propel 2018 hotel performance

Hospitality industry forecasters gathered in Los Angeles this week for the Americas Lodging Investment Summit (ALIS) and forecasted high demand would continue to outpace supply during 2018. STR is predicting a supply growth rate of 2 percent, while demand will grow by 2.3 percent in 2018 when compared to 2017. Furthermore, STR forecasts a year-over-year occupancy growth rate of 0.3 percent, average daily rate to rise by 2.4 percent and revenue per available room to rise by 2.7 percent. FullStory Here:

U.S. Millennial Travelers Prefer Hotels Over Homesharing

Contrary to widely held beliefs, a new report has found that U.S. Millennial travelers (ages 20 to 36) prefer full-service hotels over homesharing or owner-direct services like Airbnb. Only 23 percent of the 1,500 survey respondents stated their preferred type of accommodation to be short-term apartments and/or condo rentals. The majority of Millennial travelers prefer full-service hotels, with 35 percent stating upscale, luxury or resorts are their preferred accommodations. The report was published by Resonance Consultancy and went on to say U.S. Millennials will spend $200 billion during 2018, with much of their spending on travel and tourism. FullStory Here:

Hotel industry hails federal tax cuts

During the recent Americas Lodging Investment Summit in Los Angeles a number of hospitality industry executives expressed their optimism regarding the recently enacted tax cuts and their impact on the industry. The expectation is for the cuts to spur increased leisure and business travel demand for hotels. The belief is that workers receiving higher paychecks will have more income at their discretion for leisure travel, while tax cuts for corporations should result in the pursuit of growth leading to increased business travel. Full Story Here:

US Hotel Occupancy Drops 1.5 Percent To 55.4 Percent - Week Ending January 20th - 2018

According to data published by STR, the U.S. hotel industry reported negative performance figures for the week of 14-20 January 2018. Compared to the same week last year, industry-wide occupancy dropped by -1.5 percent to 55.4 percent by the end of the week. Average daily rate fell by -1.7 percent to $120.55 for the week. Revenue per available room was down -3.2 percent to end the week at $66.79. Full Story Here:

Friday, January 19, 2018

Hospitality News For The Week Of 1/19/18's 2017 Guest Review Awards Reveal Preferences For Unique Hospitality Experiences has published the results of their 2017 Guest Review Awards which ranks hospitality properties around the world. The most significant change from previous rankings is the growing shift towards private accommodations and away from traditional hotel properties. The survey was conducted with 19,000 travelers in 26 countries. The results show that one third of respondents would prefer to stay in a holiday rental instead of a hotel during 2018. 40 percent would like to stay in a unique form of accommodation on their next trip. Full Story Here:

UNWTO: Global tourism up in 2017

According to data published by the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), tourism on a global level increased by 7 percent during 2017. During 2017, there were a total of 1.3 billion international arrivals. Further growth of between 4 and 5 percent is projected for 2018 by the UNWTO. The figures last year represented the strongest growth in global tourism in seven years. Full StoryHere:

National Geographic Traveler Names U.S. Cities ‘On the Rise’

National Geographic Traveler published its list of the 29 ‘Cities on the Rise’. The list was compiled based on a unique set of metrics and expert picks from its editors. The magazine analyzed millions of consumer ratings and reviews and broke the list down by population sizes. Traveler also worked closely with global destination branding advisors Resonance Consultancy to develop a Small Cities Index. The list includes 10 categories and related features. Full Story Here:

STR: US hotel results for week ending 13 January

In year-over-year comparison the U.S. hotel industry posted positive performance figures for the week of 7-13 January 2018. Industry-wide occupancy was +0.2 percent higher, rising to 56.7 percent for the week. Average daily rate rose by +5.4 percent to finish the week at $129.08. Revenue per available room climbed upward by +5.5 percent to end the week at $73.16. Full Story Here:

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Chatbots For Hotels - Part 1

The efforts by hoteliers to elevate the hotel experience for their guests have resulted in a number of transformative innovations across the hospitality industry. Among the innovative technologies adopted by a number of hotels and chains has been instant messaging. Largely implemented via hotel apps and messaging channels using mobile technology, messaging has become another tool through which hotels and their guests can communicate and connect. Messaging is somewhat labor-intensive since it requires a human agent to respond to each interaction with the customer. Chatbots however, offer hotels an automated solution for technologically keeping the lines of communication open with guests, but with a higher degree of efficiency.

Many requests made by hotel guests are of an extremely routine nature. Chatbots have the capability to automate a significant amount of the responses needed by the hotel at any given time. Users always have an opportunity to escalate their request to a live human staff member if they feel they are not being given a satisfactory response from the chatbot. However, in most cases the guest seeking answers to simple questions will find the chatbot more than adequate for their needs. Particularly regarding younger travelers, many 21st Century hotel guests would prefer to make an inquiry of a chatbot as opposed to calling down to the front desk for their request.

The traveling public has grown accustomed to the instant flow of information. Many do not have the inclination to call hotel staff to ask a question, nor the patience to wait for an answer. A hotel chatbot has the capability to give relevant responses to the common questions, comments and requests made by guests. This empowers hotel staff to service face-to-face guest interactions more effectively.

When driven by artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, chatbots can handle more complex tasks, particularly in regards to elevating the guest experience and providing improved customer personalization. Going forward, as AI powered chatbots gain experience through machine learning, this technology offers exciting possibilities for hoteliers and their guests. Yet another technology fueled tool at the disposal of hotels in order to earn and keep continued guest loyalty.

In part 2 we will see more advantages for hoteliers in implementing chatbots, in addition to some best practices for their implementation.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Hospitality News For The Week Of 1/12/18

Google Hotel Ads Poised to Help Big Chains Increase Bookings in 2018

Hospitality industry experts are expecting Google Hotel Ads to play a major role in reshaping the hotel booking marketplace. The ads on and Google Maps are designed to showcase large chain hotel properties, resulting in increased direct bookings for those companies. Google intends to combine the ads with new loyalty member opportunities in order to elevate their value to the major hotel brands. These changes are coming about as corporate hoteliers are striving to compete with the threat of home booking sites such as Airbnb. Full Story Here:

Destinations Are the Top Factor for Turning Business Trips into Leisure Ones

The online travel agency Expedia has published the results of a study regarding the factors which make business travelers willing to mix leisure time into their work-related travel. The research indicates that 43 percent of business trips combine the two and 66 percent of those “bleisure” travelers spend more while at their destination. This behavior is related  the money they saved traveling there and back home. The number one deciding factor for making a trip “bleisure” is how exciting the city/destination is for the traveler. Full Story Here:

PwC: Global economic growth in 2018 on track to be fastest since 2011

In what should be great news for hoteliers and other businesses around the world, PwC is predicting global economic activity to experience its fastest growth rate since 2011. According to PwC’s Global Economy Watch, the world’s economy is projected to grow in terms of purchasing power by nearly 4 percent. This will result in $5 trillion being added to global output as valued currently. Nearly 70 percent of the economic growth will take place between the U.S., emerging Asia, and Europe. Full Story Here:

US Hotel Occupancy Up 3.6 Percent To 48.7 Percent - Week Ending January 6th - 2017

According to data published by STR, the U.S. hotel industry reported positive performance figures for the week of 31 December 2017 through 6 January 2018. When compared to the same period last year, industry-wide occupancy rose by +3.6 percent to 48.7 percent. Average daily rate climbed up by +5.8 percent to reach $124.33. Revenue per available room jumped upward by +9.6 percent to end the week at $60.59. Full Story Here:

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Managing The Hotel Guest Experience - Part 2

Hotels, which are affirmatively responding to the demand by the traveling public for a personalized hotel guest experience, recognize the need for effective management tools in that regard. Guest experience managers can now effectively keep track of how every guest experiences the hotel at each step of their journey, from booking to social media and review commentary post-stay.

The property management system is truly the core of managing the hotel experience of all guests. Particularly on-property, a cloud-based PMS can have a tremendous impact on how the guest perceives their hotel stay. The 21st Century, travelers seek greater control of their own hotel guest experience from beginning to end. The guests expect the technology of their everyday lives will carry over into their experience while at the hotel. Just one example, a mobile app provided by the hotel and driven in the cloud by the hotel’s PMS will empower them to do so. A cloud-based PMS gives hoteliers the freedom and real-time flexibility to leverage mobile technology to the fullest. This is an advantage of cloud-based technology which directly impacts the guests and their perceptions.

For another example, travelers bring their own entertainment content with them on their mobile devices everywhere they go. They desire television access to their various content services such as Hulu, Amazon, and Netflix. Smart televisions provided in-room would give hotel guests the ability to do so, making them feel more at home. The in-room guest experience is being completely transformed. Cloud-based technology enables guests to control, either through their own mobile device or one provided by the hotel, all aspects of their hotel room.

Cloud-driven PMS systems will facilitate hotels in offering unprecedented levels of guest personalization, and do so at a significantly lower cost than legacy systems. With a state-of-the-art PMS, guest experience managers can efficiently keep track of hotel guests at every point of their stay and interaction with the property. At each of these points, data is collected which is stored and compiled, providing managers with guest preferences as well as detailed histories. The PMS, when seamlessly integrated with a similarly cloud-based Customer Relationship Management module, can enable hotel sales and marketing departments to relevantly make future recommendations and offers to each and every guest.

Offering travelers true hospitality is the specialty of hoteliers. The experiences of their guests and perceptions afterwards can be greatly elevated when hotel management and staff are provided the tools necessary to make it a reality.

Friday, January 5, 2018

Hospitality News For The Week Of 1/5/18

Q1 2018: Forecasting US hotel industry performance

The U.S. hotel industry turned out better than predicted performance numbers for 2017. This was the result of a generally more robust economy, decreased unemployment, and a rise in consumer confidence. Industry experts from STR, PwC and CBRE have now published their Q1 2018 projections for the U.S. hotel industry. Predictions for the first quarter of 2018 are optimistic, but cautiously so in light of challenges the industry faces in the coming year. Full Story Here:

Survey: Big Increase in Travel Frequency Expected in 2018

The results of a survey conducted by The GO Group, LLC has been published which indicate a likely increase in both business and leisure travel during 2018. The survey respondents were asked about their trade plans for the year and 27 percent said they plan on more business travel in 2018. Further, 33 percent of those surveyed stated they expected to travel more for leisure during the coming year. Only 6 percent of respondents planned on less business or leisure travel in 2018. Full Story Here:

Travel industry to launch coalition in response to drop in international visits to U.S.

In response to a decline in international tourism to the U.S., according to a report by the National Travel and Tourism Office, the U.S. Travel Assn. is launching a campaign to reverse the downturn. The trade group is forming a coalition with “Visit USA”. The campaign is designed to present a message to the world that the U.S. welcomes international visitors. Full Story Here:

STR: US hotel results for week ending 30 December

Compared to the same period last year, the U.S. hotel industry reported declines in all three key performance figures for the week of 24-30 December 2017. According to data published by STR, industry-wide occupancy fell -5.4 percent to 51.6 percent for the week. Average daily rate dropped -1.4 percent to finish the week at $131.56. Revenue per available room was down by -6.7 percent to end the week at $67.90. The negative performance is attributed to the comparison week in 2016 including New Year’s Eve. Full Story Here: