Hoteliers are continually challenged with increasing their online bookings because of competition. But why (from a cultural perspective) do hoteliers continue to struggle in an on-demand app driven climate?
Many hotel brands have apps or other innovations, but they continue to view the “guest as a guest” and not as a consumer.
We recently ran a story about how Red Lion Hotels took back a significant piece of business they were losing to other hotel brands, online booking sites, and how the brand effectively tackled the ongoing issue of capturing eyeballs in an increasingly noisy online world.
One of the keys to driving up bookings is to develop systems that treat potential guests as savvy consumers. For example, Red Lion took into consideration how today’s consumer experiences were shaped by Amazon, and they thus prefer a seamless e-commerce interaction – especially when booking hotel rooms.
A guest is a subset of the consumer, and focusing efforts on the guest means missing much of the stay-cycle experience that has nothing to do with the hotel.
Consumers are influenced by many things that have little to do with travel. However, they influence the stay-cycle in many ways. At home, a consumer can get food delivered, the lawn mowed, a car towed to the shop, and a lift to the airport using apps.
All of these on-call services set an expectation that moves beyond the passive and anticipatory service provided by hotels to those that are available for a fee. A guest wants a room, a consumer wants home away from home. What does that mean? It means they want the ability to bring their own content and expect decent bandwidth, but are happy to pay for other services that deliver value.
The majority of hotel apps are focused on selling something to a guest and miss the subtleties of providing a service to a consumer. For example, it would be great to have a hotel app that would allow you to dream (and plan) your next vacation while on your current vacation. And while some might exist, many are cumbersome and difficult to implement due to the last mile of connectivity and the Hotel’s PMS.
Hotels will ultimately make this shift, but can they change fast enough? They will if brands recognize that they are dealing with a consumer and not a guest. While this is a simple concept, only the most progressive brands are truly embracing, and acting upon, this unique strategy.