Top 5 hotel technology trends

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The year 2015 promises to be even more exciting than last year, with technology leading the transformation. Aditya Sanghi, co-founder and CEO of Hotelogix.com identifies five trends that are set to redefine the independent hotel business.

1. GOOGLE TO EXPAND IN THE TRAVEL SPACE
Imagine a prospective guest searches for your hotel’s name along with the city on Google, but your local competitors’ real-time room price pops up, with an option to book on the OTA or their website, while your organic search results are pushed down. This is just a glimpse of what Google Price Ads can do to your business.

Google is slated to launch other advertising products for hotels in 2015 that will ensure the online travel booker never leaves the Google experience. Data indicates the rising popularity of Google’s travel and hotel offerings. As per Skift, 22bn hotel searches are performed on Google per month. Google Hotel Ads get the best conversion rate according to WIHP and approximately 10-20% of all online-booked occupancy is driven by Google properties, including Search and Hotel PriceAds, as per Koddi.

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What should your hotel do?
– Start by creating your hotel’s presence on all tertiary Google channels like Google+, Google Places, Google Maps and Google Wallet, as this will impact search results.
– Put aside a budget in your annual plan to set up your account on Google Hotel Finder and participate in Hotel Price Ads to increase direct bookings.

2. THE ANTICIPATED LAUNCH OF AMAZON TRAVEL
With the news that Amazon is expanding the capabilities of Amazon Local – the deal oriented site into an OTA model, it will open up a lot of opportunities for small and boutique hotels. There is a lot of buzz around the launch of Amazon Travel in 2015 and how it will use TripAdvisor ratings to select hotels around NY, LA and Seattle, to begin with. Their next target market could well be the UK.

If the retail giant gets aggressive in starting a commission war by offering low initial rates, it could give hotels another strong channel for distribution. There is also a possibility of Amazon tapping into its huge database and cross-selling to offer new ways of advertising to hotels.

What should your hotel do?
– Build a presence on Amazon Local by offering discounted rates during your low occupancy months, as it might be the starting point to get mileage on Amazon Travel.

3. REVIEW MEDIA SITES TO PLAY A LARGER ROLE
While TripConnect cost-per-click dominated the industry in 2014, TripConnect Instant Booking with its pay-per-booking model, will be the focus in 2015. It will allow travellers to book on TripAdvisor itself without leaving the experience. What works in hoteliers’ favour is that unlike TripConnect CPC, where they would pay for every click, regardless of travellers booking their hotel or not; in Instant Booking, they will pay only when travellers complete the booking.

What should your hotel do?
– Independent hotels should definitely participate in Instant Booking to save on costs, as you pay only when you get a confirmed booking. You might want to run both the campaigns (cost-per-click and pay-per-booking) simultaneously and see which works better for your hotel, before deciding to go for one.

4. MOBILE WILL RESHAPE HOTEL MARKETING
It will become difficult for your hotel to ignore the mobile medium, if it wants to be a part of the larger customer mindshare. Data from 2014 indicated a rising preference for mobile and it will continue to grow in 2015, with many hotels indicating investment in mobile POS software, as per a study by Hospitality Technology.

The factors leading to the rise of mobile include:
– Last Minute Bookings – More than 60% of mobile hotel bookings happen within 24 hours of a stay. (Source: Orbitz & Travelocity)
– Emails Viewed on Mobile – 66% of emails were opened on a smartphone or tablet. (Source: Movable Ink)
– Social Media on Mobile – 40% of mobile phone owners use a social networking site on their phone. (Source: Pew Internet Spring Tracking Survey)

What should your hotel do?
– It is important that in 2015, more than ever, your hotel integrates mobile strategy into everything you do.
– Adopt a SoLoMo strategy: Have a responsive website and integrate a mobile compatible booking engine on your site, to allow check-ins via smart devices.
– Evaluate software that offers services, such as point of sale and payment processing via mobile devices.

5. CLOUD TECHNOLOGY WILL CONTINUE TO GROW
With cloud-based solutions integrating better with other cloud solutions, 2015 will be the year where many smaller hotels will find it necessary to move to cloud technology – be it for revenue management, property management or guest feedback.

As per Hospitality Technology’s 2015 Lodging Technology Study, 15% hoteliers are considering investing in cloud-based property management and point-of-sale systems in the coming 18 months.

What should your hotel do?
– Factor in your hotel’s requirements, marketing strategy and budgets to make cloud technology a part of your 2015 plan.
– Calculate the ROI that you will get if your hotel decides to opt for cloud technology and choose a solution that offers your business breadth and depth. This 2015 will belong to the hotels that are agile in adapting to technological changes.

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