In May, Amadeus published its report ‘Rebuilding Hospitality: Trends in Demand, Data, and Technology That are Driving Recovery’, based on a survey of 688 hoteliers globally conducted in March and April 2021. The Amadeus report outlines the prominent trends that have defined the hospitality industry during the pandemic, along with recommendations for the hoteliers to develop a recovery plan.
The following article selects some trends and recommendations from Amadeus report in using data and technology to respond to the pandemic and outlining the recovery path for hoteliers.
Changes in travelers’ booking behavior
According to Amadeus survey, during the pandemic, both direct and OTA channels dominate. In particular, the direct channel has a strong increase in market share. If in 2019, the direct channel only accounted for 41% of the global booking share, in April 2020, this number had increased to 67%. This change in traveler booking behavior can be explained by the fact that travelers need more official and assurance information than before about the hotel’s opening status as well as the safety measures. For the OTA channel, within a year from April 2020 to April 2021, the booking market share of OTA channels also more than doubled, reaching 19%.
For hoteliers, when asked which distribution channel they think will be most important to their hotels this year, 28.5% of hoteliers choose the OTA channel, 22.5% of hoteliers choose the direct channel. Some other channels account for a smaller proportion such as global distribution system, travel agency, metasearch,…
In addition, in order to capture the needs of guests, the Amadeus report gives recommendations for hoteliers that need to carefully monitor the change in the channel mix to have an appropriate marketing strategy at the right time, and maximize the effectiveness of each channel. According to Jan Tissera, Head of International, Hospitality Amadeus, although the direct channel is dominant currently when the pandemic subsides though, it will be important for hoteliers to be on every channel possible to increase exposure.
Using data to capture market demand
As the market has changed a lot, historical data is no longer as valuable as before. This requires hoteliers to rethink how they use data. To capture market changes, it is important to combine multiple sources of historical and forward-looking data.
According to Katie Moro, Vice President of Data Partnerships, Hospitality, Amadeus, hoteliers need to gather data on demand, search, flights, rate shopping and alternative accommodations. to gain a complete picture. For example, using data on guest search intent can help hoteliers see changing trends in demand, but in the current context, many guests only search for information, but they do not book immediately. Thereby, hoteliers need to combine factual forward-looking search, booking and historical occupancy data to understand which markets where searches are actually converted to bookings, thereby allocating resources to operate more efficiently.
Combining data sources also helps hoteliers gauge their competitiveness and those of competitors. For example, if hoteliers notice an increase in the number of airline passengers visiting their destination, but their hotel does not increase the number of bookings, it means that guests have chosen other alternative accommodations. Based on that, hoteliers need to review their marketing and pricing strategies to reach and attract guests more effectively.
Optimize operating processes and increase customer experience
In more than a year of facing the pandemic, the unprecedented drop in tourism demand has forced hotels to find ways to cut costs in many different ways. In which, reducing the number of amenities available (17.8%) and furloughed staff (16.6%) are two of the most popular cost-cutting measures of hotels globally.
Although it can help hotels reduce costs in a short time, it has other disadvantages for them in the future. For example, in times of temporary stabilization of the pandemic, many travelers have gained more confidence to travel again. However, at this time, the hotels do not have enough staff to serve them well, and the quality of service has also dropped because the amenities are also reduced.
To solve this difficulty, technology is seen as a useful solution for hotels. Applying technology to digitize operational processes will help optimize resource and work allocation. According to the report, many hotels in the past year have also been more interested in using technology in their operations with 25% of the hotels surveyed having implemented self-service technologies such as self-check-in at kiosk or check-in online.
Such touchless and self-service technologies also meet safety requirements in the pandemic and enhance the guest experience.
The Amadeus survey also found that right after “digital media”, the most useful technology for hotels during the pandemic is “touchless technology” (26%). Many hotel chains around the world have applied a variety of touchless technology solutions to enhance the guest experience. For example, Accor has rolled out a fully digital and touchless guest experience at the Ibis Styles London Gloucester Road hotel. Guests can check-in online, pay online using the link provided, access rooms and other areas of the hotel with the wireless key and contact hotel staff via WhatsApp.
In Asia, G Hotel Gurney and G Hotel Kelawai in Malaysia check guests’ temperatures by using facial recognition technology, assist guests to check-in with QR codes, and place automatic hand sanitizer machines at entry points in the hotel.
The Standard uses an AI chatbot to help guests fix common issues that guests used to have to call or go to the front desk to ask.
In the future,the trend of applying these touchless technologies will have a lot of growth potential due to tourists’ great demand for hygiene and safety during the complicated epidemic situation. However, a big question for hotels is how to ensure the experience for guests at the touch points that inherently require direct human interaction.
In a touchless hotel environment and significantly reduced human-to-human interactions, Amadeus gives a suggestion that hotels need to pay more attention to the personalization in services and products. This is possible by integrating technology with centralized data. Leveraging personalized guest data, hotels can offer tailored services. For example, when tourists search for a room to stay instead of just seeing standard amenities, hotels with personalized services can attract and stand out to tourists through special services and amenities based on tourists’ previously recorded preferences.
However, it can be said that the key of the service industry has always been the connection of tourists with their experiences. Therefore, while leveraging data and technology is an important factor to help hotels predict the situation as well as optimize resources, the top factor that hotels need to keep in mind for long-term development is still how to ensure the best experience for our customers, thereby attracting loyal customers in the future.