Hoteliers should take advantage of recent research into loyalty schemes and consumer trends to attract and retain younger frequent travellers, says Brian Garvan of Wanup.
The hotel industry is continuing to develop at a fast pace and remains a significant part of the UK economy. In London alone, hotel performance in 2017 saw a year-on-year occupancy growth of 2.3 per cent forecast this year, according to research from PwC. But for hospitality businesses to remain strong, hoteliers must ensure they are delivering in the best way possible, to help both attract and retain potential guests.
To understand the hospitality industry further, Wanup commissioned an important research project earlier this year to unveil previously unknown findings surrounding European business travel, a key part of the market that is enjoying continued growth. Speaking to 6,000 individuals across Europe who frequently travel for work, we revealed significant trends surrounding millennials, loyalty schemes and more. These findings are important for the hotel industry, particularly hoteliers aiming to develop as the industry grows and guest expectations change.
We recommend considering the use of loyalty schemes and improved hotel experiences to ensure a property stays relevant and popular for the hotel guest of tomorrow. Below we have included a few simple steps for hoteliers to consider to best deliver to their target audience.
• Traditional hotel experiences and perks
How can you make your hotel brand stand out from the competition? Although guests differ in interest and age group, offering a standard range of perks at check-in will help to engage and show off the standard guest experience at your property. Free wi-fi is always expected these days, but why not consider offering complimentary breakfast and gym access, or late check-out for those who arrived in the evening?
Our recent research has indicated that many travellers away for business view themselves as ‘bleisure’ tourists, looking to take advantage of where they’re staying when not working. If your hotel is based by the beach or near an active area, consider offering in-destination perks such as a discount on surfing lessons or sun lounger hire, or perhaps treat those travelling alone to a complimentary drink with dinner.
These more traditional hotel perks will help spark a retained interest in your brand. But to ensure retention of existing customers and to secure new ones, hoteliers are advised to consider a much more personalised approach for their guests.
• Take advantage of profile based loyalty schemes
Our research found that 86.3 per cent of British business travellers prefer experiences over hotel points from their loyalty club, an important indication regarding how schemes should be developing for customers. We also found that for guests to remain brand loyal they are looking for personalisation, exclusive experiences and less restrictions, which we feel independent hotels and smaller chains often implement best as they know their customer first hand.
Currently 24.3 per cent of travellers prefer to stay in a boutique hotel when away on business, but this will significantly increase in the future if more independent hoteliers can offer a more personalised stay. Find out more about your guests to help with this – Wanup’s recent survey showed that almost 80 per cent of European business travellers – a key target audience for many hoteliers – would sign up to a loyalty scheme if hotels knew their specific needs and offered a more personalised service.
Ensure you collect data about each guest when they sign up, with questions including their age group, interests and which elements of the hotel they are most interested in. You can use this information to reward them with personalised perks during their stay, such as tickets to local events based on their interests, or to email those interested in particular experiences, such as a wellbeing themed stay, to announce a new offer to help entice them back to your property.
Loyalty schemes certainly represent the future of the hotel industry, so ensure you’re at the top of your game and using them to successfully offer the personal services and perks your guests really want.
• Digital perks
How do you best target the hotel guests of tomorrow, the millennial audience? Consider creating an app for visitors to organise stays at their fingertips. Wanup can reveal that 70.3 per cent of millennials book transport via an app, compared to a lower 57.9 per cent of Generation X. A hotel app will encourage younger guests to book this way and even favour your property over another with a traditional phone/ website booking system.
If targeting millennials is your main priority, Wanup’s research suggesting that this age group would like to see entertainment subscriptions as a reward from a loyalty programme should certainly be on your radar. Technology is clearly driving forward an important element of the future of the hospitality industry, so ensure that your business plan supports this research to ensure you’re reaching out to millennial guests. For more insights you can request a copy of the full Travel Loyalty report here.