Two years have passed since Marriott’s acquisition of Starwood, but the integration efforts continue on. The success of the Sheraton brand turnaround and the merging of the loyalty programs is critically important and could mean millions of incremental fee revenue for the combined company.
Many online travel agencies are no longer specialists in one product, instead aiming to become one-stop shops. The platform that a booking site can offer is a key part of its competitive moat and the contours of supply at Booking Holding and Expedia vary widely from each other.
The majority of first travel searches worldwide have no mention of a brand or destination, putting publishers of digital destination information in a uniquely influential position. Today, travelers have an overwhelming number of options, and publishers are challenged to differentiate themselves.
In today’s environment, hoteliers can no longer sit idly by, complacent with the tech systems and hardware that they have been using for decades. Those that focus on tech in terms of the overall customer journey will not only delight guests, but also outpace competitors in sales and ROI.
Online travel agencies remain essential to the travel industry as consolidators of and clearinghouses for advertising dollars throughout the space. We do not see OTAs being removed from this position easily, but challenges are growing by the day.
Amazon likely has a role to play in the future of travel distribution, marketing, or devices — if not all three. Travel leaders need to prepare today, or risk being caught flat-footed tomorrow.
For all the growth and enhancements we have seen in hotel loyalty programs over the past few years, differing opinions among consumers and hotel owners with regards to the overall value and success of programs remain. Clearly, the road to fostering real consumer loyalty will be a challenging one. Hotel companies should ultimately focus on driving satisfaction and providing the best service so consumers choose their brand over others and recommend it to friends and family.
At the end of the day, it’s all about hospitality, but the vacation rental industry faces unique challenges in delivering on that promise. Technology will be key to providing an elevated guest experience across this fragmented market.
Optimizing a fragmented and traditionally offline model is obviously going to take time. However, we expect key players in the tours and activities space to increasingly try new strategies not only to increase scale, access to distribution, and consumer reach, but also to enhance in-destination experiences for travelers and locals alike.
The hospitality industry is evolving rapidly, with brands shifting to asset light and consolidating, soft brands and non-branded operators growing steadily, and the distribution landscape becoming increasingly competitive. Nevertheless, hotel owners stand to gain if they focus on acquiring and developing the right real estate, choosing the appropriate franchisors, managers, and partners, running their properties efficiently and effectively, remaining innovative and thoughtful, and maintaining that ever-needed hospitality factor.
WeChat, China’s most popular app, has infiltrated the daily lives of its nearly one billion monthly active users. The popularity and penetration of the app in the country makes it an attractive platform for global travel brands looking to unlock the China market. Without a thoughtful WeChat strategy, however, this is easier said than done.
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