Are Hotels Ready For The Digital Revolution?

Digital Revolution

In the past customers could not experience the feel and look of a hotel room, but in today’s increasingly digital world consumers can shop for hotel rooms like never before.  Photos, videos and other interactive features allow travellers to make more informed buying decisions. Keep up with the digital pace require investment in new technologies and time.

Last week attendees of Eye for Travel’s Travel Distribution Summit Europe were asked if they were ready to board the new digital marketing locomative that is just pulling out of the station.

Richard Lewis, CEO of Best Western Hotels told the audience ‘“The world in 2013 truly is a digital world, and there are many, many hoteliers in the travel industry that are not on board at all. This is moving so quickly that it is essential to keep on board’ during the opening keynote tiled ‘When Price Hikes are Not an Option…How Can Travel Brands Enhance Service and Grow Profits?’

With €260 billion ($335.6 billion) projected in online travel bookings in 2013 at stake, he urged them to hold on tight.
“The vast majority of hotel websites are not designed for this …” Lewis said of outdated digital infrastructure. “If you can use your thumbs in the mobile device to make a reservation, you are going to make a lot more reservations.”

Hoteliers are likely to make them in a much shorter window as well, Lewis said, adding that 60% to 70% of all mobile reservations are for same-day check-in.

Adriano Meloni, digital managing director of Boscolo Group S.p.A, said acknowledged that investing in an online presence was important “Obviously the future is digital, and with the advent of video sharing and visual interest is very valuable for a brand such as ours. Anything that enables us to transmit the beauty of our hotels is key. We are a bit behind the curve in that, and we are working hard to bring Boscolo on, as a company relying on the traditional channels,” he said.

Lewis said that cycle has evolved into a six-stage process of dreaming, planning, booking, experiencing and sharing followed by the key stage of remembering, which is key in determining repeat business.

Stuart Jackson, group distribution and business director for Monarch Group added that hotel marketers have become well-adverse in search engine optimizing and marketing, but they generally are lacking when it comes to authentic engagement in social media.

“The Web has shifted to the web of things to the web of people. The whole thing has shifted from buying content to actually being a massive, social, fully integrated environment,” he said. “And as a brand and as business, we have to be there at all the touch points of the conversion life cycle.”

Lewis said that cycle has evolved into a six-stage process of dreaming, planning, booking, experiencing and sharing followed by the key stage of remembering, which is key in determining repeat business.

“It is exceptionally difficult to qualify engagement on a social level with booking, but from a brand point of view it builds loyalty and you have to be in that (social) environment to generate that return,” Jackson said.

But no matter how they capture guests, hoteliers will see their efforts wasted if they don’t deliver the fundamentals on property, Jackson said.

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