Marketing Trends: Voice search and augmented and/or virtual reality
- A travel study done in 2018 revealed that 50% of all surveyed travelers use voice search for some part of their trip. Hoteliers may start bidding on conversational long-tail keywords, such as “Where can I find a hotel near me?”. Keeping all the hotel information listed online up to date will be important in 2019 for this reason as well.
- Augmented reality and virtual reality have huge potential in the hospitality industry. For marketing, AR and VR can give travelers a three-dimensional feel for a hotel room, the property, its venue spaces and surrounding environment — differentiating the hotel and helping the guest make a well-informed and inspired booking decision.
Distribution Trends: Focus on mobile and a stronger push for direct bookings
- Even though mobile devices dominate hotel online traffic (and have done for a couple years now,) desktop still brings in the bigger revenue share for hotels. 2019 will be the year for hotels to focus on optimizing their websites and booking engines to effectively convert the growing number of mobile bookers.
- As hoteliers become more confident with leveraging technology to compete online, we could be seeing many more of them running CPC campaigns that deliver lower-cost direct bookings through their websites. And smart tools, such as trivago’s Rate Connect with its budget recommendations and auto-optimized daily bids, will also help make direct distribution more time- and cost-effective in 2019.
Design Trends: Local and green, with the comforts of home
- Expect hotel design in 2019 to cater to the rising traveler expectation for a sense of the local culture. This could be by integrating traditional artisanal crafts or works by local artists into hotel rooms and communal spaces.
- We mean green in two senses of the word: Literally, as in, more plant life incorporated into the hotel’s aesthetic. But also, eco-friendliness, with reusable bottles and glasses, LED lighting, and other measures to reduce the hotel’s and guest’s carbon footprint.
- As peer-to-peer accommodations continue to attract travelers, hoteliers can take a page from their book and offer their guestssimple accouterments such as a book library, coffee machine and locally sourced brew and tea, or batch of fresh-baked cookies.
Guest Experience Trends: Privacy and experiential travel
- Given changes to Europe’s data privacy regulation, the GDPR, many EU-based hotels will need to reexamine how they collect and handle guest (and staff) data in 2019. However, personalization is still possible. Adapting to the new GDPR will in large part be a matter of taking simple steps such as making sure the hotel website has the appropriate privacy settings, using software that complies, and communicating privacy notices to guests.
- 2019 will put the “experience” in “guest experience” in exciting new ways, whether it’s through wild food safaris or can’t-miss, once-in-a-lifetime activities. As travelers increasingly seek out memories and Instagram-worthy moments over traditional souvenirs, expect more partnerships between hotels and local restaurants and excursion providers.
Technology Trends: More important and more pervasive than ever
- In 2019 technology is everywhere. And as more hoteliers understand that embracing tech isn’t just unavoidable, but hugely beneficial for their businesses, it will be an integral part of hotel operations, marketing, and distribution everywhere as well.
- Considering the above trends, tech to improve the traveler’s experience and booking process on mobile would be a wise investment. It might also make sense for cloud-based property management systems to be another priority tech addition for many hoteliers in 2019, who find that running a hotel with a pen-and-paper method just isn’t doable in today’s modern, digital world.
Metasearch Trends: Properties using metasearch to increase visibility and drive direct bookings
- Back in January the travel industry’s leading research authority, Phocuswright, published a study on the state of independent properties in the online marketplace. The research found that such properties consider metasearch to be one of the most effective marketing channels available to them, and a solution to the rising costs of OTA commissions.
- According to the study, nearly two-thirds of independent properties now receive direct bookings from metasearch, and almost 90% intened to maintain or increase their use of metasearch for visibility and bookings in the future.