Puzzle Partner Ltd. · 11 Dec
Within the hospitality industry, we are frequently introduced to new, wide-spread economic trends. First, it was the "Mobile Era," then we got to know the "Age of the Consumer" and the "Experience Economy," and now, the term on everyone's mind? The "Expectation Economy." As we open our doors and usher in the savvy and informed travelers of today, we are met with a long list of heightened expectations that apply to each and every guest touchpoint. Within this modern economy, expectations are high, and so are the stakes for hoteliers. Guests are more informed, demanding, and less patient than ever before.
Puzzle Partner Ltd. · 26 Nov
Almost daily, employees enthusiastically circle a web address at the bottom of our receipt for us to complete a customer service survey, promising a chance to win a trip for two to some far-away beach, or maybe a shopping spree. Quite frankly, the prompt is so familiar most of us have grown accustomed to tuning it out as soon as the employee begins their spiel, pleasantly smiling as we gather our bags to leave the store. As we navigate a familiar app on our phone, posting to our Instagram account or playing a game, we're frequently interrupted by a reminder to rate the app, "How do you like using _____ ?". After we order an item from Amazon, we can expect to receive multiple emails from the last company we purchased from, prompting additional customer feedback. The message reads something like:
Puzzle Partner Ltd. · 14 Nov
There's a popular saying that reads, "Identity influences behavior." This proves to be an especially important understanding of hospitality. As industry leaders work to identify (and cater to) the entirety of the guest journey, from pre-stay to post-stay, we are constantly faced with the question like: What do guests want most, and why? What is their motivation for traveling? What makes an exceptional trip? Modern guest loyalty, after all, is earned, not given. Across each generational group and travel segment, hoteliers are implored to get closer with each guest to gain a deeper understanding of who they are, what they want and why, to provide precisely that experience. Recently, we've spent a great deal of time discussing those unique identities, motivations, and expectations that accompany each generational group when it comes to travel. From baby boomers to millennials, Generation X, and multi-generational travelers, there are no shortage of age-born influences at work to shape what is perceived as the 'ideal' trip. But within that discussion, we've yet to delve into a rather new, but ever-important, category: Skip-Generation Travel. Skip-gen travel is a growing segment represented by grandparents taking their grandchildren on holiday with them, rather than their children. Remember — identity influences behavior. With family playing such an integral role in a grandparent's identity, it should come as no surprise that the travel bug is being viewed as an opportunity for enhanced family connection. The cultivation of family and deep-rooted connections is, oftentimes, what brings family members together on foreign soil. Not to mention, with many grandparents living notable distances from their family members, a shared vacation represents an exciting way to bridge the gap and inspire closer relationships with young grandchildren. What Does the Modern Grandparent Look Like?
Puzzle Partner Ltd. · 15 Oct
In almost any industry, the success of a brand can be tied back to its ability to understand and pro-actively appeal to consumer buying behaviors. Anticipating that behavior often requires an in-depth dive into consumer preferences, and an on-going understanding of how those preferences and expectations vary across groups, scenarios, and other key differentiators.
Puzzle Partner Ltd. · 3 Oct
Anyone who has watched Dirty Dancing remembers the iconic line, "Nobody puts Baby in the corner." Well, hoteliers, what about baby boomers? Over the last few years, millennials have captured a great deal of attention across industries, with hospitality being no exception. Their unique travel behaviors and impressive buying power have generated sizeable interest from hoteliers around the globe, who are eager to tap into their psyche and earn the loyalty of this generational group. With that said, however, millennials only account for those born between 1980 and 1999. Although influential, they do not comprise the entirety of today's tech-savvy travelers with a penchant and the budget for travel, and it's important not to discount their generational counterparts. Let me put it this way: no hotelier should put baby boomers in the corner. Why? Because they are still a dominating and lucrative group who, you may be surprised to learn, are only just reaching their peak earning and travel years. Born between 1946 and 1964, Baby boomers bring to the table a well-rounded set of expectations when engaging with prospective hotels, and actively seek out authentic, personalized and memorable travel experiences. With that said, we've pulled together some of the major travel trends and habits of baby boomers, to better inform hoteliers of exactly what boomers expect from a hotel. 1. Baby Boomers have a Budget for Travel Primarily 'empty-nesters' it should come as no surprise that baby boomers have the time, budget, and desire to travel. According to AARP Travel's '2019 Boomer Travel Trends', boomers were planning on taking a total of 4-5 leisure trips this year, on which they planned to spend over $6,600 (about 20% to 50% more than their Gen X or millennial counterparts). These trips were projected to be split relatively evenly between domestic and international travel.
Puzzle Partner Ltd. · 19 Sep
Over the past few years, millennials (individuals born between 1982 and 2000) have received special attention, as leaders across industries speak to their growing presence, impressive buying power, and unique buying behaviors. However, while millennials may be the future, the decision to turn our sights away from the baby boom generation would be irrevocably ill-advised.
Puzzle Partner Ltd. · 5 Sep
Loyalty is earned, and certainly not given, and there is a definite difference between loyalty programs and a guest's loyalty to a brand. Hotel loyalty programs might seem ubiquitous today, but nearly 60% of guests still don't belong to one. During the 2019 Skift Tech Forum, industry experts agreed that today's travelers seek more than just opportunities to earn points - they want experiences. Mind you, that doesn't mean it's beyond reach. Hoteliers must work a little harder to understand precisely what factors drive guest loyalty in the modern age. Which brings us to the ultimate question — what makes guests loyal? Hoteliers, I'll give you a hint. It's probably not your loyalty program. In such a competitive market, you need your guests to feel like they're part of something more personal and provide them with the opportunity to really interact with the brand.
Puzzle Partner Ltd. · 20 Jun
HospitalityNet has long established its reputation as the hotel industry's leading news portal for hospitality professionals and leaders. However, where did it all begin? Who was the pioneering mind behind this dominant showcase of hospitality leadership? Perhaps more importantly, where is it headed? What does the future of hospitality publishing hold? Recently, I had the opportunity to sit down with Henri Roelings, the Founder & CEO of HospitalityNet.
Puzzle Partner Ltd. · 28 Mar
The last few years have been a whirlwind of innovation for hospitality technology. Despite its longstanding reputation for being resistant to change and slow to adopt technological evolution, the industry has made impressive strides toward reinventing its future. And yet, the gradual implementation of the latest advancements is only half the battle.
Puzzle Partner Ltd. · 13 Mar
Regardless of the industry, content marketing has long since been touted as one of the key differentiators to a company's long-term success. After all, it's one thing to have a great product or offering, but it's another to have a great product or offering that is effectively packaged to the masses from a trusted company that seems to have everyone's attention. But when it comes to establishing credibility, generating positive hype and growing your brand and business, what is the name of the game? We place so much emphasis on content marketing — and rightfully so — but what style of content and what method of delivery will play the most integral role in getting a company from point A to point B? What will move the needle the most, and most effectively translate the value proposition of a company (and those who run it) to current and prospective customers? We also must consider the current economic climate, where consumer trust is notoriously hard to earn — and far too easy to lose. Media has become the least-trusted institution. But if content represents the conduit to which brands can connect with their audience, how can companies shift past media distrust to establish their brand or offering as a trusted source? It's within this discussion that we realize the importance of thought leadership. What exactly is a thought leader?
Puzzle Partner Ltd. · 6 Feb
It's 2019, and I would argue that there have never been more marketing-related "buzzwords" battling it out for conversational real-estate across thought leadership articles, webinars, white papers and more. Whether it's agile marketing, catering to the 'age of the consumer,' hyper-personalization, or the mobile age — there are plenty of commerce-related silos to get lost in as industry leaders seek out the trends and methods which can best benefit their respective brand and industry. This brings us to one of the latest terms, which was coined by Uber's Chris Messina in 2015 — conversational commerce. In layman's terms, conversational commerce is represented by consumers interacting with businesses through popular messaging and chat apps, such as Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, WeChat, or even through voice-activated assistants such as Alexa or Google Echo. As we've watched the rapid growth of the mobile journey over the last few years, this market shift comes as no surprise. Modern consumers, while still expecting access to high-touch service models, have an evident penchant for digital communications and self-service. Simply put, mobile devices have become the predominant device of choice across generations, and represent an opportunity for instant, convenience-driven interactions with brands. The gradual evolution to text-based commerce seems like a natural step for hotels and travel brands, with modern consumers effectively leading the charge. If you're already feeling apprehensive of this digital-centric approach to modern commerce — consider the following:
Puzzle Partner Ltd. · 21 Jan
TripAdvisor, the world's largest travel site, has long since become a trusted online hub for online feedback around the globe. In fact, amidst the rising popularity of social networks and, by virtue, the influx of social feedback from consumers, TripAdvisor has accrued over 702 million reviews delving into the service/experiences offered at the world's leading hotels and travel listings. That's right… 702 million. This includes 136,000 destinations, 1.2 million hotels, and 975 attractions. Talk about a comprehensive glance at the travel and hospitality realm, with valuable guest-centric insights conveniently showcased while prospective travelers begin their trip planning process.
Puzzle Partner Ltd. · 8 Jan
In a marketing landscape where content is king, you might think it's just a matter of creating and distributing great content. After all, if great content is what every consumer craves from the brands they favor, delivering it should be the easy part — right? But in fact, that's not the case at all. While content is undeniably an integral piece of any modern marketing strategy, business leaders are quick to realize that the curation of valuable and timely content is only half the battle. Back in the day, big brands had to buy an ad or film a TV commercial to get their product in front of their target market. In today's market, advertising has evolved beyond print ads and commercials to include social media, influencer marketing, articles and thought leadership, integrated marketing activations and so much more. Although this means that brands don't necessarily have to pay for ad space or TV commercial spots as they did in the past, much of the other media formats are still, in fact, paid. Existing within what we call a "pay to play" marketing landscape, brands today are primarily working with social media platforms that have set algorithms for content prioritization, and large media brands and publications that have a robust readership. In other words, free exposure is hard to come by, especially when working within platforms or publications that can leverage the value associated with their (substantial) exposure. This is where paid, earned and owned media comes into play. Let's break it down:
Puzzle Partner Ltd. · 5 Nov
Industries across the globe are witnessing the consumer transition into what we like to call the experience economy. Perhaps influenced by the impressive buying power and sheer numbers of the millennial generation, modern consumers are showing a definitive preference for experiential purchasing over material goods. As the Harvard Business Review describes it "within an experience economy, a company intentionally uses services as the stage, and goods as props, to engage individual customers in a way that creates a memorable event." This puts the travel and hospitality industry, specifically, in an exciting position to maximize influence and guest connections. It's not necessarily about B2B or B2C anymore, or even the best 'deal' on paper — it's about the creation of value, and a company's ability to demonstrate that they share values and beliefs with their target consumer. This becomes especially evident as we embrace the consumer-generated push for sustainable commerce and, even more-so, sustainable travel and eco-friendly hospitality. This past year, it found that 84% of Canadian travelers have a desire to go green on future vacations and then two-thirds (64%) said they intend to stay in an eco-accommodation in 2018, which is an increase from both 2017 and 2016. Even further, 58% of Canadians said they would pay at least five per cent more on their travel to ensure it had a lighter environmental footprint. This allows them to feel good about the accommodation they've selected, while also engaging in locally relevant experiences. Millennials are also noted as being twice as likely to support brands with strong management of environmental and social issues and expect brands to not only manage their impact but communicate it. Still not convinced? Studies show that 43 million U.S. travelers are "ecologically concerned" and 70% of travelers prefer hotels with sustainability credentials With this in mind, popular destinations around the globe are looking for ways to limit the environmental footprint/impact that tourists may have on the surrounding environment, heritage sites and local populations. Further, hotel properties within those destinations are striving to reach a new standard of sustainability across each touchpoint of the guest experience. We've rounded up some of our favorites: 1. QO Amsterdam
Puzzle Partner Ltd. · 18 Oct
Witnessing the gradual advancement and disruption of technology and services is an exciting, and sometimes industry-altering concept, as our world continues to evolve at a seemingly rapid pace to meet modern demands. Generations today know (and love) the likes of Netflix and Crave TV, for example, but many of us also remember the popularity of Blockbuster video — a formerly successful business model which now, doesn't even exist. And those of us who used to cling enthusiastically to our flip phones whilst playing 'Brick Breaker', likely upgraded to iPhones with their robust connectivity capabilities and exciting, modern updates. What about MSN or AOL messenger? Kodak photography? Dial-up internet, and wall-mounted landline phones? Our world is ever-changing, and while the needs of consumers are, ultimately, the drivers of that change — sometimes it feels like we are wide-eyed spectators along for the ride. The hospitality industry is no exception, as we look back to a (relatively recent) time when the concept of entering a hotel room without a key card seemed entirely futuristic and out of reach. The hospitality experience was largely impersonal and, more often than not, in need of a drastic update. But as of 2018, things are different. Hoteliers have their ears to the ground as they work to understand and anticipate modern guest expectations, continuously offering more creative and personalized travel experiences. Amenities are robust, hyper-personalization is the norm, upgrades boast a discernible wow-factor, the mobile experience is prioritized and, for perhaps the first time ever, hotels are actively getting ahead of technological trends. With this in mind, we've taken a look at those hotels which are positioned to offer the most innovative and ambitious experiences to their guests in 2019 (and beyond). Embracing the Lobby Evolution with Vibrant Design: The Hotel Silken Puerta Am érica Modern travels have demonstrated an obvious penchant for unique, Instagram-worthy aesthetics within the hotels they frequent. In the case of Hotel Silken, nineteen of the world's best architects came together to create unique rooms on every floor. Think white caves, sharp lines, red lacquered walls and a focus on business and b-leisure travel with 1000-person capacity meeting and event rooms. For the Tech-Savvy Traveler: Yotel Yotel prides itself on offering everything the modern guest needs, and nothing they don't. Each room is a small, but perfectly-formed cabin to ensure guests can enjoy their stay without exhausting their budget for leisure while visiting major, tourist cities. Yotel appeals specifically to the tech-savvy traveler craving efficiency, with electronic check-in terminals, a robot named Yobot to take care of your luggage, space-saving motorized beds, motion-activated air conditioning, super-fast Wi-Fi and innovative design. The Budget Traveler's Shangria-La: Citizen M Citizen M has created a reputation for itself as a leader in the modern hospitality space by adopting to a low-cost, high-end design property model. Rather than investing in reception, concierge or room service, Citizen M offers a self-service model with self-check in and living room-inspired lobbies. Check-in and check-out take one minute, with your invoice automatically mailed to you. Each room is notoriously stylish and decked out with high-tech upgrades, king size beds, free on-demand movies, unlimited Wi-Fi and more. The hotel also employs ambassadors rather than front desk staff, which are there to help you find whatever you need (but otherwise, they leave you alone). Embracing the Mobile Revolution: Hilton Hotels The mobile experience is one which simply can't be ignored within the hospitality realm — a movement which becomes ever-apparent when looking at Hilton's efforts to ramp up their mobile guest journey. With technological innovation in mind, Hilton guests can now unlock their rooms using their smartphone, whilst Honors members can also select exact rooms they want, order room service, chat with hotel representatives and more through their phone. Marrying the Past with the Future: Effleston Square Pimlico Effleston Square Pimlico appeals to our desire for cutting-edge technology, while staying true to historical, British flair. The exterior of the property mimics that of a striking 19th Century Grade II listed historical facade, while the interior offers keypads to control music and lighting, user-controlled frosted shower walls and flat-screen TVs embedded in bathroom mirrors. Even better, each guest is provided with an iPad that connects them with a concierge service, all from the comfort of their room.
Puzzle Partner Ltd. · 2 Oct
In the past, the travel and hospitality industry has been notorious for its resistance to incorporating new and innovative technology into the mix. There have been some early adopters but where other industries were quick to embrace technological change and practices, we were seemingly always one (or more) steps behind. And yet, this year our industry has — perhaps more than any year previous — welcomed disruption from technology solutions and movements positioned to transform every phase of the guest experience. This marks an exciting era for hospitality and becomes even more apparent as we look to the frenetic landscape of travel technology acquisitions and investments. In 2017 alone, over 65 acquisition deals worth 17 billion USD were made in travel technology. This number has increased drastically from 18 deals in 2013, as emerging tech solutions continuously attract new investments and acquisitions. Deloitte has even stated that technology acquisition is now the number one driver for M&A activity in its M&A Trends Report for the year. Why now? As the travel and hospitality sector shifts towards decentralization and becomes more competitive, companies are eager to stay ahead of the curve with the help of strategic acquisitions and the delivery of innovative solutions. After all, once a company has matured, the best way for them to continue on a path to substantial growth is to increase market share from a competitor through the acquisition process. To call attention to this industry-wide momentum, we've rounded up some of the most exciting travel and hospitality mergers and acquisitions that have recently made headlines. StayNTouch purchased by Shiji
Puzzle Partner Ltd. · 22 Aug
Loyalty begins with a smile. It sounds simple enough however it can be a challenge to receive a smile in today's hectic, overly self-indulgent environment. We focus on selfies, Facebook, Instagram and have slowly lost touch with what is most important, creating face to face relationships that can last the test of time.
Puzzle Partner Ltd. · 14 Aug
Nashville is known for many things; live music, nightlife, food, and from August 15th until 17th that list expands to include the Hotel Data Conference (HDC) hosted by STR. A yearly, sold-out event staple in the hospitality industry, the conference covers over 20 exciting, insightful presentations, industry outlooks, tips, trends, and so much more. Taking place at the Omni Nashville Hotel, attendees can expect to join in on conversations with industry leaders and panelists and leave with data-backed insights to enhance their hospitality offering in 2018 and beyond. After all, with the trend of hyper-guest personalization continually gaining traction across our industry, the intelligent utilization of data is quickly becoming the key to a hotel's success and longevity.
Puzzle Partner Ltd. · 17 Jul
There is a great deal to be said about attending Kindergarten. It is the beginning of one's educational journey that will hopefully have a lasting impact on his or her life. If the career journey you have chosen is within the hotel technology industry, then the impact of Kindergarten will likely be even more significant. I am not suggesting that at the tender age of 4 or 5 you will start to code the next great guest engagement platform. Nor will you be given the educational value that will ensure you fully understand API's or XML Schema. However, at the core of what we learn in Kindergarten are some guiding principles that will always impact the hotel tech industry. First, let's take a look at the basic curriculum framework for Kindergarten which focuses on some very basic elements of communication, the understanding of community, and continuous learning. Below are the main components of today's Kindergarten classes:
Puzzle Partner Ltd. · 28 Jun
This past week marked another successful HITEC, the culmination of which left hospitality experts with a lot to think about as it relates to industry-wide innovations positioned to make major waves in 2018. One of the more notable discussion points is the mainstream integration of voice-powered assistants (AI technology) into hotels. In fact, Amazon.com Inc recently announced that it has partnered with Marriott International Inc to help increase guest access to amenities with Alexa, through its voice-controlled device Echo, in an attempt to expand its presence in the hospitality industry. This is an exciting prospect for hotels, as implementing Alexa in a hospitality setting could assist in a personalizing room settings, ordering room service, housekeeping, calling the concierge and so much more. Of course, in the same excited breath that we speak to the potential conveniences which Alexa (and other voice-activated tech) can provide, we have to consider the on-going concern of data security. Especially with the recent implementation of GDPR, the protection of guest data and the proper attainment of documented consent for all data collection should be paramount. However, voice-activated devices are admittedly trudging into uncharted waters, as their ability to gain uninhibited access into user's conversations and preferences comes into question.
Puzzle Partner Ltd. · 6 Jun
Dear Mr. Bezos, Amazon has long-since established itself as the fabric that holds together a world of consumers looking for an easy, effective and value-oriented environment to purchase almost anything - except for travel. As a veteran of the hospitality and travel technology industry, I believe Amazon should extend its footprint and offer travel and hotel products to deepen its relationship with customers and position itself as the ultimate end-to-end travel ecosystem. Though Amazon has offered flash deals and travel-related services in the past and Amazon Destinations tested the waters briefly, you have never really taken a true leap of faith.
Puzzle Partner Ltd. · 30 May
According to a recent survey by Forbes, B2B customers progress more than 70% of the way through the decision-making process before engaging a sales representative. This stands as an alarming realization for some companies, as they may find themselves resorting to aggressive last-minute sales tactics and discounts in an attempt to seal the deal within that final 30%. And, yet — for those who truly understand the value that content brings (holistic, value-focused and cadence-savvy content, specifically) brings, these findings come as no surprise.
Puzzle Partner Ltd. · 24 Apr
The travel and lodging industry has evolved into an undeniably exciting space. Rife with new technology, aesthetically impressive social media pages acting as travel inspiration for millennials and a rise in boutique accommodations. This change and ensuing competition are continuously on the horizon.
Puzzle Partner Ltd. · 17 Apr
Gone are the days in which CEO's can expect to remain a faceless, behind-the-scenes force of the company. Think Richard Branson, Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos – and the growing list of rock star C-level execs. Within a dynamic industry landscape, CEO's across all verticals are stepping up to become the driving market force behind their brand, openly advocating for their company's values, culture, and intellectual capital. A company's brand is often an extension of their chief executive's reputation. Many CEO's have nurtured the organization's products and services from initial conceptualization, to the (sometimes uncertain) beginnings and through to those first indicators of success and consumer-driven momentum. As a CEO, you're committed to the long-game. Positioning yourself as an industry thought leader will give your company a sought-after voice, create a competitive edge, build customer loyalty and ultimately boost revenue. Effective thought leadership establishes a company as both customer-focused and innovative while demonstrating a clear sense of direction and industry expertise. An active thought leadership strategy can even act as the catalyst that helps CEO's to test new ideas. We're entering a new era of consumer and industry engagement that focuses on company leadership. Thought leadership is the driving force of this new era. Not sure where to begin? We can help.Thought Leadership is About Expertise, Not SalesThe first step to effective content marketing lies in the understanding that brands need to give, before they expect to receive. The problem with most content marketing strategies today, is that they clearly demonstrate a one-dimensional intention: to sell. Sales pitch after sales pitch, blogs become a long-form, copy-rich version of unimaginative banner advertisements. Essentially, you're not providing them any value, before asking them to give you something (their business). You're expecting them to invest in you, without investing in them, first. Unfortunately, this mentality fails to understand the dynamics of successful consumer courtship in 2018. Consumers today are experts at sifting through content across various platforms and, as a result, their engagement is entirely selective and often dismissive to this transparent, sales-driven approach.When it comes to most products and services, customers remain loyal to companies they trust. You want your company to be seen as having mastered your industry and offering, continuously bringing new and relevant expertise to the table. Delivering innovation is also key to ensuring that the viewership understands that you have a full grasp on the future.
Puzzle Partner Ltd. · 21 Mar
Today's world is constantly changing, and the travel and hotel industry is facing many technological challenges and intense competition. When competition is at such a fever pace, innovation is everything. Across various platforms and specialties, we are seeing the enthusiastic embrace of ambitious thought leaders, entrepreneurs and start-ups who are fearlessly carving out their vision of the future. In the past, there were yearly events that enabled travel and hotel technology providers to showcase their current solutions to prospective buyers. Now, due to the rapid change of technology and its impact on the industry, annual conferences and events have included innovation award segments within their regular program that are dedicated to the change-makers that are transforming the technology used by hoteliers. Within these competitions and events, industry professionals are granted the opportunity to display their latest innovations to panels of experts, earning exposure and praise across the hospitality landscape. This past year has been an eventful one for our industry, with no shortage of educational events, thought leadership panels and conferences to showcase the technology which will enhance hoteliers' internal processes and deliver a better guest experience. We've rounded up some of the highlights to give you an idea of what is to come and which travel and hotel start-ups to keep an eye on. Phocuswright 2017 InnovatorsFor nearly 25 years, the Phocuswright Conference has invited qualified attendees to 3 different competition stages (Launch, Summit and Battleground) to showcase some of the most exciting new technology our industry has to offer. The winner of the Travel Innovation – Startup Category takes home a check for $100,000 USD.