The hospitality sector, once a $600 billion industry, has become one of the hardest hit since the pandemic began. As air travel has plummeted and social distancing has become the norm, industry leaders are finding new ways of adapting to a new market.
New behaviors, new insights
The use of adaptive technology can capture new trends and generate new insights into what is driving changing customer needs.
A recent SparkBeyond study found that differences in terms used in listing descriptions during a one-year period significantly impacted room bookings.
In Q1 2019, customers typically searched for room listings in relation to:
- Distance to/from airports
- Public transportation such as buses or trains
- Local attractions and cultural events
- Restaurant recommendations
One year later, property listing terms included:
- Hygiene and cleanliness procedures
- Kitchen facilities and appliances
- Food storage spaces
- Cooking utensils and coffee machines
Data comparisons from one year during the same time period shed new light on an evolving market. Shifting priorities for vacationers and business travelers spotlight how outdoor activities are no longer a priority, while indoor activities and amenities have become the primary focus.
These new behaviors are becoming the main deciding factor for hotel room and rental property bookings. Other factors such as proximity to buildings, number of floors in the property, and larger vs. smaller rooms are also influencing the buying decision.
AI may be the secret sauce
So how can hospitality leaders adapt to a drastically different market? Gaining insights into new customer behaviors is critical, but the vast unknowns present a challenge that can be difficult to navigate.
AI and advanced analytics may be the key.
By identifying subtle patterns and correlations in data, AI can pinpoint the signs of emerging trends. As a recent use case, we found that property listings which included words like “disinfect” and required no minimum number of nights had higher booking rates.
Advanced analytics uncovered the root cause of this insight: customers are paying closer attention to hygiene standards, while flexible policies make it easier to commit during times of uncertainty, making this particular room description an attractive option. This insight led to the creation of “disinfection as a service” as a new trend for hospitality chains.
Updating business models for new customer needs
Incorporating advanced analytics allows hospitality chains to customize their guest offerings with more personalized services.
With the rise in remote work changing traditional business practices, a new niche market has come to light: hotel rooms as business centers. As Forbes recently noted, a number of hotel chains are converting rooms into personal work spaces.
Services such as WiFi, designer coffee service and in-room dining, unlimited printing, and smart TV access give guests premium benefits as a unique alternative to working from home.
Utilizing geospatial, census, and demographic data can provide hoteliers with detailed data they can use to target these and other potential customers. AI solutions can provide insights into regions that are either more active or less active in a given time period. This can be used as the basis for developing new pricing structures and added amenities.
SparkBeyond is uniquely positioned to help hospitality leaders and their data science teams rapidly adapt to new trends and customer demands. The AI engine tests millions of hypotheses per minute, asking questions a human analyst wouldn’t consider and reaching beyond the limitations of human intelligence. These capabilities are more critical than ever before.