When consumers and experts alike think of the travel industry, transportation giants usually come to mind. But what savvy industry watchers are learning is that transportation is only one small part of the equation. Accommodations providers are driving the real shift in the travel industry, and of those, it’s the smaller companies and startups that are generating actual change.
Accommodations used to refer to the hotel sector, and in some regards, the vacation rental side of business. But the booming privately owned homeshare concept is getting a lot of consumer attention and edging in on the market share for accommodations, largely due to digital and tech amenities that hotels and rental condos—and now homeshares—have to offer.
There’s been a shift in how the hospitality industry handles consumer engagement. With the move to things like mobile apps, online booking and check-in, and even a catalog of hundreds of titles to choose from for the typical guest newspaper that now appears seamlessly each morning on a guest’s mobile device, today’s traveler expects not only convenience and price, but a greater level of affordability and value thanks to the self-service, digital concepts.
A newly launched magazine that tracks the hospitality industry, Megatrends Shaping Travel In 2015 takes a closer look at how consumers are responding to what the travel and hospitality sectors have to offer in the digital age. One of the chief findings of the publication from Skift if that whole new levels of connectivity and convenience have become the norm. The days of cable-based ethernet connections in hotel rooms or paying a premium for in-room wifi are gone, even if not all hotel and rental chains have adapted. Travelers are no longer content with a complimentary print copy of USA Today thrown on the lobby desk in the morning, and instead of booking their stays with hotels that can offer local news, but also the news from back home while guests are away.
“As consumers become self-serve and mobile-dependent, new models and approaches to both customer relations and local discovery are emerging, and hospitality is the big crucible where all of this is playing out,” says Rafat Ali of Skift. “We see this at every touchpoint in the hospitality industry: From how hotels are building direct links to customers in digital, to how customer service is being rethought through social and mobile tools. Within the confines of a property we see this in how hotels are redoing lobbies and how customers check in, as well as everything about the customer experience inside a hotel room, entertainment inside the hotel, and food & beverage offerings, too. Brands are also questioning customer interaction pre-, during and post-trip, as they examine and rebuild it in new ways.”