Some aspects of the guest experience are timeless. Travelers tend to expect, among many other things, cleanliness, complimentary shampoo, proximity to business meetings or key attractions, and a great view.
But with emerging technologies and evolving guest expectations, hotels are having to play catch up to stay current with guest needs. Here are six things the 2016 guest wants from hotels.
After price and location, this may very well be the most important factor in a guest’s decision to book. A survey by J.D. Power discovered that, along with breakfast and parking, free Wi-Fi is one of the most essential amenities for travelers. According to Gallup, many guests would give up some amenities in exchange for complimentary Wi-Fi, while others still would be willing to pay extra for better connectivity. For many guests, Wi-Fi is a necessity, not a privilege, and they chafe at the suggestion that they should have to pay for a service the coffee shop down the street is offering for free.
With an influx of new players in the hospitality sphere (think sharing services such as Airbnb and HomeAway), hotels need to show potential guests that they’ll get more bang for their buck by staying at their properties than they would at a local’s apartment. It doesn’t matter what the price is, as long as they feel that what they’re getting for it is worth it. Research has shown that Millennial business travelers are more likely to book a slightly more expensive room if they perceive that it offers more value than the cheaper option.
Mobile check-in and check-out
Mobile bookings are here to stay, but the industry’s use of the smartphone doesn’t end there. Travel-weary guests are no longer keen to stand in line for fifteen minutes while the group ahead of them checks in. TripAdvisor found that 34 percent of travelers want their accommodation to offer a mobile check-in option. As the service becomes more ubiquitous, this number can only rise.
While true that great service has always been a fundamental part of hospitality, technology has replaced some of the services guests once took for granted. Automation is driving more self-service — including mobile check-in and check-out — but fundamentally, guests still want hotel staff to take care of them. Poor service is a top driver for dissatisfaction among hotel guests, so hoteliers must encourage a culture of impeccable customer service if they wish to win repeat visits. Cutting edge technology can enhance the guest experience, but nothing can replace the human touch.
The guest of the 21st century is more environmentally conscious than the guest of decades past, More and more people are making changes in lifestyle to counter the effects of climate change. Increasingly, travelers are voting for more eco-friendly hotels with their wallets. An estimated 62 percent of travelers consider the impact on the environment when booking hotels, and 17 percent said they’d even be willing to pay more for eco-features. As an added bonus, eco-features can even save hotels money — lights that turn off when the guest leaves the room, for example, can reduce hydro costs.
An emotional connection
It’s in hotels’ best interests to encourage guest engagement. Disengaged guests are less likely to return to a property and more likely to go online to broadcast their dissatisfaction on the internet. The bad news is that only 20 percent of Millennial guests are engaged. The good news is that engaged guests are less price sensitive, regardless of whether they’re luxury guests or economy travelers. This means guests with an emotional attachment to a property are more likely to book there despite their budget. Engaging guests is as simple as encouraging them to provide feedback and treating them like they’re unique.
Researchers have also pinpointed a few amenities travelers could do without. We’ve rounded up a few of them to give you insight into ways you can cut costs:
•The in-room mini-bar.These days, many travelers don’t want to pay the steep prices associated with items in the mini-bar, and as many hoteliers know, it’s expensive to keep them stocked. According to TripAdvisor, it’s among the top five amenities guests couldn’t care less about.
•Room service.Is room service going the way of the dodo, too? Guy Langford, the vice chairman of U.S. travel, hospitality, and leisure for Deloitte, says “people don’t want 24/7 room service. …They want good Wi-Fi. They want basic amenities, like a gym.” Coupled with the increasing desire for authentic, local experiences, it sounds like guests would rather eat at the award-winning restaurant down the street than order food into their hotel rooms.
•Bathrobes and slippers.It would seem most guests are just fine — in fact, are more comfortable — wearing their own clothes. Statistics show that 68 percent of hotel guests couldn’t care less if hotels ditched the bathrobes.
•Valet service.It seems that travelers — even those staying at luxury hotels — are comfortable parking their own cars. Research from Gallup found that “customers across all segments strongly agree with eliminating…valet parking.”