Enhancing customer experience in the hospitality industry

The new generation of travellers has moved past cheap airfare tickets and accommodations, gradually developing a keen interest on worthwhile experiences that give more value for money. This doesn’t mean, however, that exploring the world on a shoestring is becoming less common, as people still do travel with a budget limit in mind. The difference now is how they are more willing to shell out a reasonable amount in exchange of good deals that provide more than just a room to stay for the night.

In the same way, hundreds of thousands of hotels across the globe are striving to deliver commendable customer experience—one that sets them apart from rival brands. Through the years, hotels have turned to value-adding services in order to attract a greater number of potential guests and stay true to their promise of a better experience. The most common would be bed-and-breakfast packages, especially if the hotel comes with its own restaurant, and complimentary use of in-house amenities like the spa, pool, gym, function rooms, and laundry.

Tours and activities, particularly to the country’s most famous landmarks or even within the vicinity of the hotel, also make for effective value-added deals, as these save customers the time and hassle of having to plan ahead. With unique tours and activities starting to become widely available on the Internet, all thanks to online booking platforms like BeMyGuest, it is recommended that hotels learn to leverage the said ancillary product to further enhance customer experience. Below are what you need to know about the present state of the travel industry, as well as the changing behaviour of travellers, millennials included.

The top experiences that travellers engage in are shopping, dining, and tours and excursions. Chinese travellers are said to be the world’s biggest spenders, having used up a collective amount of $165 billion for all trips in 2014. They spend their budget mostly on shopping, shifting from souvenirs in the past to luxury goods at present. Indians, in the same way, are inclined to travelling on a cruise and purchasing premium jewellery. Asian travellers in general, with the exception of Japan, consider dining experiences as a top priority. Overall, tours and activities are looked at as a significant factor when travelling.

Most travellers plan their trips in advance or upon arriving at the destinations. Millennials are highly dependent on the Internet, which is why they tend to do a lot of research online before travelling. Aside from booking online, 87 percent of millennials also check out several online travel agencies for comparison. Still, half of millennial travellers travel independently, and these are the same people who book tours and activities only upon arriving at their destination.

Offline bookings are still more prevalent, but a significant number of travellers are starting to book tours and activities online. In 2016, more than half of all travel bookings have been made offline via phone or through travel agents. The same pattern is to be expected this year, with offline bookings being reported as 50 percent more common, particularly for multi-day tours. By 2020, however, around 44 percent of all travel bookings are expected to occur online via desktop or mobile. The total sales is predicted to amount to $278 billion, consequently proving that the travel industry is profitable in terms of digital commerce.

China’s online travel agencies are slowly dominating the industry, as travellers are more likely to book in advance via mobile devices. A recent report by the China Internet Network Information Centre confirms that in 2016, there had been a total of 731 million Internet users in the country, which is 53.2 percent of the entire population. Of the said number, 695 million or 95 percent use the Internet on a mobile device. The trend of high mobile bookings from Chinese travellers dates back to 2015, when Chinese online travel agencies accounted for 60 percent of Asia-Pacific’s mobile gross bookings for the year.

As active users of smartphones, millennials turn to the device in planning their travels and booking activities. A study by Google shows that 41 percent of millennial travellers have used a smartphone to shop for flights, while 27 percent booked hotels using the same device. This is in contrast to travellers aged over 35 years, who garnered only 25 and 19 percent, respectively. The figures confirm that two-thirds of younger travellers are comfortable planning their trips on a smartphone contrary to the remaining one-third, which is comprised of the older travellers.

The use of smartphones in planning and booking is more common after the travellers have arrived at the destination. With the increasing dependence on mobile devices, travellers are concluded to rely on their smartphones while on vacation. Forty-four percent of these connected travellers, as they are called, use their smartphones to come up with more organized trips, while 37 percent utilise them for booking accommodations. In general, connected travellers turn to mobile devices to search for nearby restaurants, look for interesting things to try, and read reviews on the web.

Tours and activities are still falling behind other sectors of the travel industry in terms of digital presence. Despite the continuous advancements in technology, a report by Phocuswright highlights the lack of system integration to explain why only a small number of suppliers are able to distribute their tours electronically through the help of resale partners. Even if they do, tour suppliers are not able to market their products as effectively as hotels or other travel brands. Having inadequate presentations, no options for mobile ticketing, and poor user experience are few of the primary reasons why travellers fail to realise the benefits of booking tours and activities online.


Are millennial travel trends shifting in 2016?, Forbes 2016
Asia Pacific travel markets have the world’s highest mobile travel penetration, Phocuswright 2016
Chinese extend lead as the world’s biggest spenders on foreign travel, Forbes 2016
Chinese travellers the world’s biggest spenders, CNN 2013
Creating packages that attract customers, TripAdvisor
Defining the Asian luxury traveller, World Travel Market 2016
Four charts showing growth of online and mobile travel bookings by 2020, Skift 2016
Half of China’s population now uses the internet on a mobile device, TechCrunch2016
Millennial travellers: Mobile shopping and booking behaviour, Google
Removing paper paralysis from the tours and activities industry, Travel Industry Wire 2017
Sustainable travel, offline bookings key features for adventure travel in 2017, Adventure Travel Tours 2017
The truth about how different generations travel, Virtuoso 2015
TripAdvisor study reveals 42% of travellers worldwide use smartphones to plan or book their tripsTripAdvisor 2015

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