In Newsletter #43: Trump and the global travel market | The shiny new tech temptation in hotel marketing | The rise of open APIs in hospitality technology.
I’d love to know if you are all feeling prices drop amid less interest in US travel post the Trump election win (#1 below). While it might be too early to tell at your hotels, or to know for sure, Expedia’s travel volumes are so large they can have a much more accurate and real-time view on the market. If prices are indeed dropping as heavily as they claim, one could get upset and complain. However, as we saw in the post ‘09 years, we are all more resilient and in times of weakness there come times of opportunity. This week Hotel Business were kind enough to publish a case study on Hotel Zephyr, a client of ours, who have found their way to improve operational efficiencies through technology. How else can you help improve profits in times of weakened demand?
In other news, we are also seeing a great rise in the use of APIs in the hotel industry. As covered in #3 below, APIs are the future of technologies speaking to each other. If everyone used APIs we would have a much more integrated and powerful industry. To be sure, one of the reasons Airbnb is so powerful is that they are a platform and all of their technology works together. Since hotels don’t have the luxury of building their own technology, they can surely ask that their chosen providers can work together (just as their staff across various departments do).
Last year, we decided to put a lot of effort into our API strategy and, while there is still some way to go, next week we will be at the HTNG conference (HT-Next this year) where we are looking forward to speaking with our peers and our hotel community on progressing standards around APIs and Cloud Communications, a workgroup Dmitry (our CTO) has helped lead throughout the year.
Please let us know if you want to meet at HT-Next as myself, Dmitry and Rafael will all be heading down to Orlando next week,
P.S. Marriott started their own SnapChat channel! I personally don’t use the now-publicly traded social media giant, but given Marriott’s amazing forays into all things social and technology (like virtual reality)we are not surprised.
HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE WEEK'S NEWS...
Is Trump’s agenda putting US hotels at risk and what to do about it.
HotelMarketing.com | US Hotels And Airlines Slash Prices As Trump Policies Hit Tourism
Why it matters: Almost 6 months ago, Expedia’s top brass came out publicly warning that a Trump presidency may negatively impact world travel. CEO Dara Khosrowshahi spoke of his fears Trump’s “world of us versus them” would stand in opposition to the ethos of global travel, which represents the erasure of barriers rather than their construction.
Fast forward to today and it seems Expedia may have been right on this one. According to an interview Khosrowshahi gave in the UK Financial Times this past weekend, US hotels and airlines have been cutting prices amid falling international interest in visiting the US. The view is: “One of two things is going to happen. Either the US has to go on sale in order to keep volumes up, or volumes are going to come down.”
Our view is that while Trump likely isn’t doing our industry any favors, there could be many factors influencing global travel. Europe is not exactly in a period of great stability, neither is the Middle East. Whatever the global political and internal political climate, the US is a fantastic country to visit with some of the finest hotels in the world. So, what do you do about it?
Periods like these can be an opportunity. It forces us to think on our feet. US hotels can decide if its worth making extra effort in marketing internationally to encourage travel to the country. As we spoke about in newsletter #41, hotels are hotbeds of diversity and have a powerful voice. Additionally, there is a huge opportunity to strengthen your internal US based travel. Standard Hotels are a great example of a hotel group that has prioritized the local hotel stay (aka the staycation) with their One Night Standard application. Most of all though, there are two sides to profit. One is revenue, the other is cost. In periods of weak revenue, as we saw in the post ‘09 years, one can make efforts to cut costs and operate more efficiently. Doing so will only set you up for massive success as the demand rebounds back p.
**Note: Because the Financial Times is a gated publication, we are using the Hotel Marketing summary link for those without an FT login. You can find the source article here.**
Don’t chase it all. It’s far better to do a few things very well…Hotel News Now | Don’t Chase Shiny New Tech Down The Rabbit Hole
Why it matters: When it comes to marketing your hotel, the temptation for today’s independent hotelier is to chase“shiny new tech,” says hospitality consultant John Fareed. The checklist of technologies (from SEO, to social media, to TripAdvisor, to AR and VR … even robots) is almost endless, but most budgets and other resources are not. “It’s far better to do a few things very well,” he writes, “with a high level of proficiency, quality and professionalism—and measure results along the way. While others are trying to do it all, prioritizing and investing heavily in the top two or three initiatives, which have the greatest chance of significantly impacting your hotel’s revenues, will deliver competitive advantage.”
So, how do you determine those top two or three initiatives to double down on? To hear Fareed tell it, it’s rather simple. One thing I think most of us can agree on is your website. He writes, “Your website remains the greatest opportunity to successfully go head to head with your branded competitors, as the majority of branded property sites are poorly designed templates with weak copy and inexpensive stock photography.”
And beyond the website, “the single greatest marketing investment any independent hotel or resort can make remains the guest experience,” states Fareed. We’ve written about this before, and we’ll say it again: in today’s social and sharing economies, the guest experience is your best marketing asset. Focus your attention and your technology spend here, and you’ll invariably buoy all other marketing efforts: “Improving the guest experience, across all touch points, raises the perceived value of the property, creates positive word of mouth, higher ratings on TripAdvisor and significant increases in social media conversations about your property.” As study recently published in tnooz reminds us, no one Instagrams their stellar booking experience.
Why would you hire staff who can’t speak to one another?
Hospitality Trends | How Open APIs Are Transforming the Hotel Industry
Why it matters: Every day at your hotels, your teams come together to orchestrate the guest experience. Housekeeping works with Front Desk to deliver rooms as guests arrive (at all times of the day!) and the Concierge works with Sales to ensure all the guests activities are executed as promised (no matter how many months ago the booking was made). Departments have to work together to create the perfect guest experience and that would not be possible without the ability to communicate with one another.
Your technology is no different. Jos Schaap, CEO and founder of StayNTouch (a PMS), writes a great reminder of how important the existence of an API is in choosing your technology, whatever its purpose may be. In his words, an API is the “digital glue” that allows your technologies to work together. And just like your teams, when your different technologies are able to communicate with one another, then you have more ability to provide a better experience for guests and staff, whether it’s the guest who can communicate with your hotel at every stage across the guest journey, or it’s your staff who can spend less time logging guest preferences in three different systems and more time with your guests.
One example of where the industry has seen the lack of an API produce negative results is with most legacy PMS systems. Recall the hotels you have worked at before. Think back to how many of the technologies you were trained on that were not truly integrated with your PMS, forcing you to do extra work at every step.
Would you hire staff members who could not speak the same language to work together? Probably not and as Jos correctly reinforces, nor should you buy technologies that cannot work together. An API is one way to ensure the technologies you pick today will work with the technologies you find tomorrow.
- What Part Of The Hotel Experience Is The Most Talked About On Social Media? Tnooz
- What Voice UI Is Good For (And What It Isn’t) Intercom
- Platform Companies Are Becoming More Powerful — but What Exactly Do They Want? NYTimes
- Marriott Created Its Own Snapchat TV Show Skift
- Trends In The Purchase Of Hotel Technology Show A Shift To Cloud Systems Tnooz