Close your eyes. Think about some of your happiest memories. What pops up? Surely, the birth of your children or other momentous events. I would be willing to bet you envisioned a few travel memories too. I know I’ll never forget the feeling of stepping onto the cobblestone streets of Florence for the first time or watching my children splash in the ocean.
Travel has become a huge part of our lives and many people are eager to jet off once again. Expedia forecasts that 44% more people will take more trips in 2021 than 2020. And CBRE modified its hotel occupancy forecast from an anticipated 43% to 55% for the second half of 2021.
Despite these gains, the travel landscape will continue to look vastly different for the remainder of the year. Travel and hospitality brands must proactively seek ways to use customer data and analytics to attract and retain a different set of travelers.
Gains are driven by less loyal, more price-sensitive leisure travelers
While many are eager to explore national parks or dip their toes in the water, that 55% occupancy rate is and will remain lower than the 67% rate recorded in 2019. Why? Most companies are not ready to send their employees back on the road. In fact, key business cities like San Francisco, New York, Seattle, Chicago, and Boston are expected to have the lowest gains in Revenue Per Average Room (RevPAR) as companies grapple with the risk and cost implications of business travel.
We’ll all take any gains we can get these days, but the decline in business travel does have serious implications for travel brands. 70% of all global revenue for high-end hotel chains and nearly all revenue for convention-focused hotels come from business travelers. And, while business travelers make up 12% of all flyers, they account for 75% of airline revenue. Business travelers are also more loyal. 62% of business travelers have signed up for a hotel loyalty plan versus 54% of leisure travelers. If you’re traveling to major cities or the same city multiple times a year, as many business travelers do, it makes sense to stay in the high-end hotel chains that offer loyalty programs and credit cards with loyalty ties. Meanwhile, leisure travelers typically look for accommodations near their destination and within their travel budget, rather than specific hotel chains.
Listening to your travelers can pay off
While business may be picking up in vacation destinations, how can you encourage less-loyal leisure travelers to choose you for their next trip? And, the one after that? Listen.
Of course, most large hotel brands are already doing so in many ways – whether it’s through customer satisfaction surveys, social media listening, or call center feedback.
While there are tools today that allow this unstructured text or voice feedback to be analyzed, many of the solutions cannot break down the comments into sub-comments, which can result in inaccurate sentiment analysis. However, ActiveInsights, Wavicle’s advanced voice of customer solution, can.
Let’s look at a simple example:
“The room was great, it was a suite, room service was slow.”
In the scenario, it appears we have three statements that we need to analyze for sentiment. But, using AI we can detect that “it” refers to the suite/room, meaning we really have one positive statement, “The suite was great.” And, one negative statement, “Room service was slow.”
Other solutions may classify, “It was a suite” as a neutral statement and “The room was great” as a positive statement. Therefore, your CX or consumer insights team may miss that this particular traveler prefers suites. Or they may think a standard guest room is great, while other travelers report it is too small.
Using this analysis, the hotel can 1) identify operational issues leading to slow room service, like not enough employees, delays in receiving orders, or other issues; 2) reach out to the guest to thank him or her for the feedback and offer a discount on future room service orders, and; 3) offer future promotions for suite bookings.
Combine multiple data sources for a Customer 360 view
Guest feedback is invaluable, but you can improve your chances of winning a guest’s future business by pairing that feedback with additional sources of data. For example, transactional data (e.g., stays), loyalty preference data (e.g., room type), and third-party data marketplaces can give you a more holistic view of your customer segments.
In order to do so, you do need a way to integrate your various data sources into a single platform to extract insights.
Once you do so, you can micro-segment your guests into more targeted groups to test personalized offers and messaging along every step of the customer journey.
Given most hotel program’s perks are only achieved after many stays, you may need to take a different approach to win over leisure travelers, like:
- Share last-minute discounts targeting those who are looking to book a weekend trip or a local “staycation” within a 300-mile radius of their home.
- Personalize emails and ads to reflect the travelers’ interests, geography, and price sensitivity to increase bookings.
- Consider offering a lower loyalty tier that can be more easily achieved by leisure travelers who book trips one to three times a year.
- Offer personalized offers and rewards for using your app on site. For example, if a guest has only dined in for dinner, offer a breakfast or lunch discount. Or offer an airline passenger free Wi-Fi or a complimentary snack.
- Thank guests for choosing you and ask for feedback during their stay. This helps engage the traveler and provides you with an opportunity to act on any negative feedback immediately, preventing a bad Yelp or Trip Advisor review on the way home.
Invest wisely to profit from the travel rebound
The rebound in leisure travel is a means for celebration, but travel brands must invest wisely as they look to increase business with more price-sensitive consumers who may not be brand loyal. Make smart investments in data and analytics to drive a better return on your marketing efforts and win over guests with tailored offers and messaging. You can start by attending a demo of ActiveInsights for the lodging or hospitality industry.