Self-service is no new trend. In fact, it’s been around for decades! Everyday tasks that we don’t even think about in 2020, like filling up our own cars at the petrol station, were once the jobs of dutiful employees.
Things in the self-service arena have come a long way and are changing more rapidly than ever, with technological advances moving at the speed of sound due to an ever-growing demand. When it comes to the travel industry, accommodation providers are facing a similar phenomenon, with vacationers increasingly seeking out tools that will aid in improving the efficiency and overall experience of their adventures. For a large part, this movement can be credited to a certain, tech-savvy demographic that is taking the tourism world by storm – Millennials.
As a collective, Millennials now represent the largest generation to date, making up around 31% of the world’s population, according to Bloomberg. They’re steadily redesigning the way the industry works, placing as much value on convenience as experience in a world where technology reigns supreme. The cohort also harnesses an estimated $200 billion worth of spending power, which presents a pretty convincing reason to pay special attention to their needs and wants when it comes to travel trends.
So how can your business apply the power of tools like self-service to capture the attention of the technological generation? Let’s find out!
Make it mobile…
Mobile technology continues to play a growing role in tourism as the number of Millennials travelling increases each year. Unlike their predecessors, this generation of explorers favours using handheld devices to conduct their research and make their bookings. In fact, 74% use their smartphone to carry out initial research for their holiday or trip, and 66% of Millennials use their phones to finalise bookings (Condor) – those are some pretty significant stats. Because Millennials have honed in on the art of multitasking and are masterminds when it comes to fulfilling on-the-go tasks, it’s essential for businesses within the tourism sector to ensure their booking process is optimised to suit the needs of this audience.
The first step is implementing a highly-responsive website and Booking Engine design that will adapt seamlessly to whatever gadget the customer is using. A whopping 86% are disappointed by their experience with Online Travel Agents (OTA) whilst using a mobile device (Condor), so doing things the right way, and creating the most user-friendly experience possible, could very well put your business in a favourable position.
But it doesn’t stop once everything has been booked…
Think about apps…
The need for user-friendly services continues throughout your guest’s stay. For younger generations, apps are a necessity, not a luxury. 90% of young travellers use mobile applications for maps, airlines, weather, and Social Media when travelling (Condor), so there’s no time like the present to start thinking about how you can employ an app to better your business and boost guest experiences. For example, NewBook’s GuestAssist App allows customers to self-manage their stays, make changes to their bookings, access property information, retrieve access codes, and more… anywhere, anytime.
Utilise new technologies…
Self-Service Kiosks have been a “thing” for a while – you may have seen them most commonly at airports, shopping centres, or grocery stores, but did you know that they’re being used more and more within the accommodation business? The benefit to guests comes with the ability to navigate through their stays on their own terms.
Self-service eliminates the human element and with it, the need for queues and long waiting times. Rather than lining up at reception, guests can check-in or out using a Check-In Kiosk whenever they want. They can also use them as an information point to access things like property specifics and maps, plus book appointments, make changes to their reservation, or even process payments. This allows your guests to take control of their own stay and streamline their entire guest experience, which as we know, is ever more crucial to our Millennial pals. Plus, with no human contact required, kiosk machines are especially handy (and especially safe), particularly as current events have spurred a greater interest in contactless customer service.
Explore Artificial Intelligence…
Most Millennials communicate more often digitally than they do in real life (Liveperson), so while concepts such as Artificial Intelligence may seem daunting, the reality is that things like chatbots may be more familiar to your customers than expected. A huge 63% of people actually prefer to message a chatbot rather than talk with a human when communicating with a business (Chatbots Magazine). So, what makes them so special?
Chatbot software can be integrated easily into your website or Facebook page and can help your guests with bookings, payments, general enquiries about your property, local area attractions, Wi-Fi details, activities, facility hire, and more, offering your guests a superior level of responsiveness and assistance. The valuable aspect from a business perspective, comes with their instantaneous, 24/7 service that will cost you a fraction of the price you would typically pay to employ a customer service team. They can also capture data from conversations, track insights and gain feedback through simple questions, which can help you to improve on various aspects of your business (not to mention they never take sick days). Better still, chatbots like NewBook’s NEW.B.I.E AI Chatbot, can handle multiple enquiries at the same time, relieving pressure from staff and freeing up time to focus on improving face-to-face guest interactions or complete other tasks.
Self-service presents a wealth of advantages to business owners, from substantially reducing costs to assisting with managing operations. For our end-users though, self-service is key. With more Millennials jumping on the travel bandwagon, there is a growing appreciation for streamlined, user-friendly tools, which are evidently becoming the go-to way for accommodation providers to make their mark. So… are you on board?