The future of Travel is centered around the customer
Usually, these articles begin with “It’s that time of the year…”. The truth of the matter is — I’m not (yet) fat, I don’t fancy red clothes and I don’t come bearing gifts. Unless of course if by gifts you mean actionable, no BS advice on what you can do for your brand in the coming year, using a limited investment with measurable ROI and impact. Which, in any business terms, should be considered a pretty good darned gift — if you make use of it, of course.
Why did we start coming out with these industry information and trend opinions?
Since we want your traffic of course. If you read and find this of value there’s a higher chance that some of you will actually buy something from Genuyn in order to power great hotel guest engagement and personalisation. But there is another reason, call it altruistic if you must. We read a lot. A whole freakin’ lot. We sift through a lot of information and discuss on it internally, piecing together bits of information and painting our internal view of the world of Travel. It is an exciting experience, since the whole industry is in such state of flux, caused by technology. So we came to the idea that this world view is much better shared than locked inside Genuyn’s email and Slack threads. So here goes free stuff, which we humbly believe holds value for you.. Especially if implemented in your business.
This series of short rants, let’s not be presumptuous and call them articles, is created to delve down into the famous reports (coming out usually at that time of the year) provided by the best minds in Travel, the likes of PhocusWright and Skift, which we value highly. There is a twist though, we will provide ourview of the travel world, removing the unnecessary fat and leaving the actionable information that you can start using right away to boost your travel brand or business. That is the plan at least, leaving the final judgment of whether we were successful to you.
Hope you’ll enjoy our series, starting with…
The future of Travel is all about the Customer
Yeah, well, great, thank you. Wasn’t it always?
But bear with me a while and think about it. Can you claim that at each stage of travel journey brands are doing everything they can to personalise the experience for the guest?
Customer expectations are getting higher and higher, evolving around a few clusters;
Immediacy and Convenience — if it ain’t what I expect and now, it ain’t. OTAs will have something I look for certainly.
Pricing — complete transparency and availability. If you fight a pricing war, you’ve lost already.. Define your own category with experiences and service, not easily replicable.
Rooms, facilities, luxury, location — expectations higher than ever, price expected lower than ever. And these are costly buggers, so how do you marry the two?
Service — with OTAs and online reviews, there’s always that axe hanging above your head, is it? Great service is a must, but that extra something is delivered only through heavy personalisation, by knowing and anticipating your guest’s needs and wishes.
Technology — more and more, customers expect the convenience provided by technology they have and use at home to be available during their travel and stay. It is certainly the best ROI you can have in hospitality, as long it is executed and curated well. Just enough is amazing, too much is a turn down. Remember, technology is there to enhance the original experience of travel, not replace it. People travel to experience and feel, not to surf the net. We will elaborate a lot on the use of technology, but the guiding principle you will find here is that technology is best used to feed and enhance human interactions (think front desk personnel with the insight of Dr Lightman from “Lie To Me”).
The biggest companies in travel do not own a single hotel room nor are responsible for a single cleaning staff member. Those companies spend north of 10 Billion dollars each year to reach, acquire and influence consumers. They bring over 70% of your bookings. Think about that for a moment while you ponder your 2018 strategy.
Is there any way to fight that scale and massive firepower that commands and owns the relationship with YOUR guest?
No, there isn’t. OTAs are a fact of life and they will continue to contribute a largest slice to your revenue cake. In fact, what has happened in retail with Amazon is unravelling in Travel now.
The irony of the situation is that scale is not fought with scale, quite the opposite. In judo, you use your opponent’s weight against him, as a weapon that brings you the ultimate victory. By being skilful and smart, while spending less. This brings us back to our focus — the consumer (finally he’s getting to the point, standing ovations from a sleepy crowd!).
The consumer is changing, or has changed. Here we’re not talking about the mythical Millennial, we’re talking most of the market, including disposable income filled Gen X and Boomers, the usual Luxury suspects. Guests do not want to be processed any more, they want genuine Experiences with a big E, to be connected to the culture of the place and people they’re travelling to. This is the Age of Aquarius in 2018, influenced by Millennial mindset. This is actually great news for Travel, since people will buy less cars and invest more (and more often) in their journeys.
But what’s most important, it’s great news for smaller brands, that can offer something genuine. At their core, guests want to feel at home, want to be recognised for what they are and stand for. Guests want a luxury home away from home, while filled with new experiences and interactions, immersing them in a new culture to learn and grow as individuals.
So there’s really nothing new about human DNA, and nothing new in great service that was provided by the best hotels. People want to be pampered and recognised right from the start of the first interaction, and this becomes expected in order to differentiate. This brings real Word Of Mouth that was the most effective marketing device from the dawn of time.
Interesting thing is, today, with the levels of personalisation expected by each guest, it can’t scale. That is, if you’re not Aman with 4-to-1 ratio of staff to guests, which is a serious cost not everyone can afford.
So in order to offer an amazing service and personalized experience to each of your guests, technology must assist your staff and systems, technology that helps understand your customer from the first interaction point (like booking or inquiry) and follows them throughout the journey, not as some trendy promise of AI hat does not deliver, but as actionable information delivered to your staff and systems — used to power human to human interactions. The ones that count.
The ones that really matter.
The ones that are remembered and are carried on big wings far and wide.