We’re at the start of a brand-new year, and the hospitality industry is busy with its seasonal crystal-ball gazing, anticipating what the next twelve months may have in store for the world’s travelers and hotel professionals.
Skift looked back at 2017 to predict how last year’s industry evolutions will evolve further in 2018. Tnooz turned a sharp eye toward the emerging trends that have the potential to become the “next big thing.” Forbes focused on the digital transformation trends turning the industry “completely on its head,” while Hotel Management was more interested in what’s becoming the “new normal” in hotel design.
What do the hospitality industry’s thought leaders and experts see coming down the line this year? Here’s a look at some of the biggest hotel trends tipped to take shape in 2018.
Hotel distribution in 2018: facilitated direct bookings and vacation rentals
Facilitated hotel-branded direct bookings with metasearch
While 2017 saw the mutation of some metasearch sites into hybrid meta-OTAs, facilitated bookings could prove the bigger booking trend in 2018. With facilitated bookings, metasearch could help bring high-value direct bookings to the hotel advertiser and a seamless booking journey to the traveler via a platform optimized for conversion.
And in the case of trivago Express Booking, strong advertiser branding on the booking funnel means it’s clear to the traveler who owns the booking.
More travelers started looking for alternative accommodations in 2017, while marketing channels looked to provide more personalized search experiences and more choice to users. One possible 2018 evolution of this trend would be to see more vacation rentals available on more hotel distribution channels.
Hotel technology in 2018: blockchain, cloud, and mobile
Blockchain technology left its considerable mark on the global economy in 2017. Will 2018 be the year blockchain disrupts the hospitality industry? Some sources say it very well could be.
Cloud-based operation management software
With a greater focus being placed on the quality of the guest experience than ever before, hotels of all sizes are looking to streamline operational processes and facilitate inter-staff communication as much as possible this year with cloud-based management systems.
Mobile and voice-responsive functionality
Last year highlighted the shift to an online booking journey; now we’re seeing that booking journey going mobile. Hotel companies are feeling the pressure to provide the ultimate customer journey on mobile devices, with a voice-responsive search experience hot on its heels.
Hotel marketing in 2018: automated, updated for SEO, and data driven
Chatbots and conversational marketing on hotel websites
Speed of information and a UX are now cornerstones in the conversion funnel; today’s chatbots assist with both. It wouldn’t be surprising to see these low-cost, high-impact multi-functional bots popping up on more hotel websites to assist guests and encourage bookings this year.
Mobile-first SEO strategies
Mobile-first indexing is anticipated to be fully implemented in 2018, which means that making hotel websites and booking pages optimized for mobile will be a priority for many hotel companies in the coming months.
Online marketing techniques are getting more strategic and targeted, which means hotels will harness more data this year to reach the right audiences with the right content. Data insights will also enable hotels to publish more competitive rates across all their marketing channels.
Hotel rooms in 2018: simpler, more natural designs; smarter smart tech
Some sources say the smart room is nigh, while others say it’s already here. Either way, we’ll be seeing more Internet-of-Things-inspired hotels rooms in 2018, with guests unlocking their rooms, adjusting the lighting and temperature, and streaming their Netflix favorites on the TV with their smartphones.
Nature-inspired and pared-down designs
Hotels looking to renovate this year could take the opportunity to pare guestrooms down to the bare minimum, increase communal space, and incorporate more live greenery and natural light into their designs. Adding more (discreet) power outlets would be a good idea, too.
Hotel loyalty in 2018: online reputation, special offers, and reimagined loyalty programs
Online reputation management
Word of mouth has gone digital, and it has a huge influence on travelers booking hotels. Online reputation management may move into the spotlight as a way to both increase bookings and foster customer loyalty online.
Reimagined rewards structures and incentives
Revamped hotel loyalty programs from some big names in the business got quite a bit of attention in 2017, setting the stage for independent hotels and other hotel chains to follow suit in 2018 with their own new or redesigned loyalty programs.
Special offers from hoteliers
A feature update to trivago’s marketing platform enables hotel advertisers to publish Special Offers on their hotel profiles to catch the attention of and encourage bookings from travelers on the site. With the hotel’s contact details displayed next to the special offer, this feature also opens the channels of communication between guest and hotel right at the start of the booking journey.
Hotel sustainability in 2018: meaningful, measurable, and achievable goals
The International Tourism Partnership published its “Hotel Global Decarbonisation Report” toward the end of last year, and it was a sobering eye-opener.
A study undertaken to gauge the hotel sector’s impact on carbon emissions and to understand what actions need to be taken for the sector to align with the Paris Climate Agreement, the report calls for hotel companies to step up as leaders and set science-based carbon reduction targets for the industry.
2018 will be the year for setting these goals, and for establishing practical action plans for achieving them.
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