Simply keeping up with the digital expectations of today’s tech-savvy consumer is no longer an option. Exceeding those expectations is a travel industry imperative and an opportunity for hotels to focus on the only thing that truly matters to consumers: the end-to-end guest experience.
One reason for the growing consumer adoption of new technologies is their growing digital impatience and expectation for instant responses, answers and solutions to their queries and purchasing requests.
Underscoring this is the growing adoption of digital assistants. Today, a study by Accenture shows 62% of consumers are comfortable with an AI application responding to their query, which provides fast and efficient results.
AI and Machine Learning: Chatbots become ubiquitous
2018 will be a year where AI, in the form of machine learning where computers learn without being explicitly programmed, becomes not just a futuristic technology, but an integrated and valuable everyday tool.
Chatbots are already enabling deeper and easier traveler communication – and they are expanding daily to different mediums: chat, social channels, voice assistants and more.
And new tools and technologies in this space will allow hoteliers to connect with consumers in deeper and more meaningful ways, and with increased personalization.
By better knowing each customer and intuitively providing them with the information they want, we’re freeing up time, and starting off their travel experience right with frictionless discovery, search and booking processes.
Raising our Voice: Alexa and Google go Mainstream
We have been hearing it for years. Voice-enabled digital assistants are poised to not just change the travel industry, but nearly every industry we touch in our lives.
Ovum Research consultancy firm said that by 2021, there will be 7.5 billion digital assistants in the world.
Digital assistants today are giving us weather and traffic information, and entertainment content – but they are also enabling us to search hotels, check the status of flights, and more.
As an industry, we need to be at the forefront of testing voice skills and aligning with the growing traveler adoption of this technology, to ensure we’re equipped and at full performance when it becomes ubiquitous.
– Amazon’s Alexa, Google Home and others have already sold more than 20 million devices (a number expected to double in less than a year), according to Consumer Intelligence Research Partners (CIRP).
– Based on a poll of 26,000 consumers in 26 countries, the 2017 Accenture Digital Consumer Survey showed that three-fourths (76%) of UAE respondents are comfortable with an AI application responding to their query, and more than two thirds (68%) have interacted with computer-based applications in the last 12 months. These percentages are significantly higher than the survey’s global averages of 44% and 31%, respectively.
-By 2020, 30% of web searches will be done without a screen, according to Gartner Research
– 84% of users love that their digital assistants are available all the time, according to Accenture
– 39% of global voice smartphone users are excited by a future where digital assistants anticipate their needs and take action, according to a trends and insight report by Speakeasy.
Marketplaces rule the world. Just look at Amazon, the one-stop shop now for nearly any consumer desire – practical or otherwise. Consumers expect a seamless, one-stop experience in nearly every area of their lives.
A recent multi-generational study by Brand Expedia shows that 80% of travelers find it useful to book all their trip components together, and for Gen Z, that jumps to a massive 87%.
Convenience is king. The upside for hotels is that offering rooms in “package bookings”, alongside flights and cars, typically means higher ADR, longer booking windows and fewer cancellations.
Plus, consumers can streamline their research and booking into one seamless purchase. Packages really are a win-win.
By: Paula De Keijzer- Senior Director Market Management Middle East, Africa, Greece & Turkey at Expedia, Group
Paula has more than 20 years hospitality experience, understands the hotel landscape and is an expert in helping hotel partners drive greater results for their business. Her experience spans many international markets including Europe, US, Middle East and Africa.