Travelers in the United States, United Kingdom and Australia will not be accepting of dropped standards in their hotel accommodation, in spite of the challenges faced by the hotel industry over the past year, new research by SiteMinder, the world’s largest open hotel commerce platform, has found. On the contrary, SiteMinder’s Changing Traveler Report 2021, based on the survey responses of more than 800 holidaymakers in each country, shows that expectations are higher than ever before for 3-in-5 Americans and at least 1-in-2 travelers from the UK and Australia.
SiteMinder’s research underscores heightened expectations among consumers with pent-up demand for travel experiences, after a year of travel disruptions and restrictions. Compared to pre-pandemic times, 78% of travelers in the U.S., 61% of travelers in the UK and 60% of Australian travelers say they plan to travel the same amount or more, which SiteMinder says illustrates the need for hoteliers to remain optimistic about business but also work smarter in order to meet the higher standards now expected of them.
“While the last 18 months have been challenging for accommodation providers, our findings show that traveler demands over the coming year will be unrelenting and hotel guests will not be forgiving of dropped or otherwise average standards,” says SiteMinder’s senior director of global ecosystem, James Bishop. “There are material consequences for hotels that aren’t prepared, including lost business, a tarnished brand and the dreaded negative online review, which is the last thing hoteliers need after the year they’ve endured.”
Positively for accommodation providers, SiteMinder points to the many travelers who support their personal data being used to better their stay. Roughly four-in-five American (80.52%) and Australian (79.23%) travelers, and more than three quarters of those from the UK (77.59%) are not opposed to their personal data being used to improve their stay, which SiteMinder says provides an open opportunity for hoteliers to meet the new highs in standards that are now expected.
“To keep pace and ensure their reputations remain intact, hoteliers must continue to elevate their offering and look to technology to help them through such things as automation and guest data, which gives the ability to understand guests better and personalize communications,” says Bishop. “Importantly, hoteliers must consider their customers’ end-to-end experience, which means assessing every touchpoint, from their website and payment gateways, to their check-in process, to the minute those guests leave the building and tell their family and friends all about it. Those hoteliers that lean on technology to remain diligent, are the businesses that will be rewarded during this critical time of recovery.”
Direct bookings continue to rise, but trust remains a challenge
When it comes to booking preferences, SiteMinder’s research reveals the continued growth of direct bookings – a trend first found through SiteMinder’s recent study of the world’s top hotel revenue makers. Consistent throughout the U.S., UK and Australia, direct reservations via a hotel’s website, phone and email remain the most popular booking methods, with a notable year-on-year increase in popularity of 11% in the U.S. and 6% in Australia.
Despite this, only 31% of American travelers, 15% of those from the UK and 12% of Australians say that they trust their accommodation provider “a lot” while paying for their stay.
“For hoteliers today, there’s a growing need to offer a seamless experience online and think about their brand presence holistically. It isn’t enough to have a compelling hotel website if the payments portion of the booking process doesn’t feel secure. Hoteliers need to solve for every point of friction and this is the critical role of technology that applies best practice in online commerce for hotels,” says Bishop.