Analysis Shows Hotels Are Not Losing Share to AirBNB

AirBNB has been regarded as the great disrupter in the hospitality sector, but a new study shows that – for all the hype – AirBNB is not taking marketshare away from hotels.

The study, compiled by Smith Travel Research using AirBNB source data, offers critical insights into the true market penetration for the room-sharing service.

Among the key findings:

  • AirBNB has 2.3 million listings, far more than the world's largest hotel company, Marriott (1.1 million). However, much of AirBNB's inventory is available only in peak-season, not year-round.

 

  • Airbnb has higher peak-season occupancy because its users skew more heavily to leisure. Hotels have much higher year-round occupancy due to the diverse nature of their business (leisure, business, and group).

 

  • The markets with the highest hotel occupancy also have AirBNB's top occupancies. A deeper analysis shows that AirBNB is capturing excess demand, not shifting share.

 

  • Even on highest compression nights (hotel occupancy >95%) hotels are growing compression ADR faster than ever – at 35% in 2015 – with ADRs far exceeding those of AirBNB.

 

Jan Freitag, senior VP of lodging insights for STR, said that hoteliers are not at significant risk to lose share to AirBNB.

“I think the overall message is that the U.S. hotels industry continues to break demand records,” said Freitag. “We are selling more rooms than ever before on an annualized basis. In 2014, we had a demand record. We had another demand record in 2015. We expect in 2016 we will also top the number of rooms sold. Room demand has been higher than it has ever been.”

The Five Profiles of Chinese International Travelers

Hotels.com has completed its fifth annual survey of Chinese travelers and – among other insights – developed the five profiles of Chinese who plan to travel internationally in the coming year. While the resutls show that 92% of Chinese travelers plan to increase or maintain their travel spending in the coming year, the survey also five profiles of Chinese international travelers:

Five Profiles of Chinese International Travelers Revealed

To help the industry cope with these more independent and diverse travelers, the Chinese International Travel Monitor 2016 reveals five travel personas that Chinese travelers fall into.

1. Detailed explorers (25%): Born in the 60s and 70s, they are innovative and optimistic, like to learn and explore and to plan their trips down to the last detail.

2. Cautious connectors (25%): Also born in the 60s and 70s. They come from lower-tier cities and responsible family people and travel to bond with loved ones. They prefer safe, family-friendly hotels.

3. Experience seekers (17%): Tend to be born in the 80s and 90s and be from top-tier cities. They like stylish hotels and professional advice on local cultural activities. They travel to enrich their experience, being independent and ambitious.

4. Indulgers (12%): Most likely born in the 80s, they travel to indulge themselves and to demonstrate their power. They tend to stay at higher-star hotels and go on adventurous local tours.

5. Basic pleasure seekers (21%): Millennials born in the 90s. Unlike other groups, more of them are women than men. They are aesthetically minded and travel for non-material enjoyment, seeking value-for-money accommodation.

 

Chinese millennials spent 27 percent of their income on travel, according to survey data – the highest proportion among all Chinese travellers. The hoteliers’ survey showed that the number of Chinese millennial guests (aged under 35) increased 12 percent, slightly more than the median increase of total Chinese guests (11 percent). This trend reflects the growing demand – and opportunity – for hospitality internationally.

“Leadership Qualities” vs. Competence: Which Matters More?

Stanford’s Lindred Greer has published an interesting new study which seeks to answer one of the great leadership selection queries: Will an organization achieve peak performance with a highly competent leader or one with the strongest leadership qualities?

From the Harvard Business Review, the short answer is that the leader's competency – perhaps above other factors – has the greater impact on the success of the team.

In one group of teams, influence was aligned with competence: the person who knew the most about the task to be done led the team. These groups performed best.

A second group of teams shared power – they were relatively non-hierarchical. This group did not perform as well as the first, but they did outperform our third group of teams — hierarchical teams with a randomly chosen leader.

We replicated these findings in the field, by the way. We studied 49 teams at a publicly held Dutch company; the teams were auditing finances in search of tax evasion and fraud. If the team leader didn’t have a deep, technical understanding of tax fraud, he or she led the team badly astray.

This is simple to understand in more everyday examples. Would you prefer an airplane captain with vast experience or one who effortlessly rallies others to the cause? Of course we want someone who can fly the plane expertly. And that is Greer's greater point: depth of experience and expertise allows highly competent leaders to make difficult decisions and mentor others to success.

So… easy, right? Not so fast. Studies show organizations demonstrate a bias towards high leadership dynamic over high skill in selection, even when similar selection has led to failure.

In the end, executives must remember to hire for purpose. If we strive to build highly successful teams that achieve difficult goals, then the leadership for these teams must be exceptionally skilled.

Simply stated: competency matters.

Top Travel Trends for 2016

This week, TripAdvisor released their annual list of top travel trends for 2016 (PDF). Hidden in the results are a few very interesting details that not only apply to 2016, but hint at travel trends that may have a longer tail for both hotels, airlines, and OTAs.
2016 Travel Trends

Top Travel Trends for 2016

Trend #1 – Seeking new experiences

Globally, 69% of travelers plan to try something new in 2016, including cruises (20%) and adventure travel (15%). A key travel trend in the data is that 17% will try solo travel for the first time in 2016. It will be key for hoteliers to anticipate the unique needs of solo travelers and catering to this emerging trend.

Trend #2 – Spending more because it’s “worth it”

One in three travelers plan to spend more in 2016 than they did in 2015, with nearly half (49%) of respondents doing so “because I or my family deserve it.” To capture these increased revenues, hotels must differentiate themselves with travel packages that focus on unique experiences, such as the "romantic kidnapping" and picnic at Namale Resort.

Trend #3 – Choosing destinations based on culture, special offers

Travel trends continue to point to the importance of targeted online marketing to focus buyers on your destination, with 21% choosing a destination because a hotel had a special offer or package. One in five global travelers have picked a destination because they saw it featured on television. In 2016, turn your marketing and social media team loose to create visibility for those key items that make your market a "must see."

Trend #4 – Staying cool and connected

While free wi-fi continues to be a critical buy factor for most travelers (46%), many travelers relate that they require "super-fast" wireless internet access (26%); 11% are willing to pay a premium to get the speed they need to stream movies and connect in high-definition.

Trend #5 – Rising room rates (and optimism)

Industry analysts and hoteliers are confident that 2016 will bring higher rates, with 47% of global hoteliers initiating rate increases. This travel trend should lead to capital improvements and enhancements for many in the industry. Despite these reinvestments, 65% of hoteliers expect profits to increase next year, as 2016 should give the industry a new baseline for both ADR and profitability.

Trend #6 – Managing reputations online

Given that TripAdvisor initiated the survey, it's not surprising to see reviews carrying a focus in 2016. I was surprised, however, to see only 59% of hoteliers planning to invest more in online reputation management in 2016. I anticipated this number to be much higher and see this as a travel trend that will go higher in future years. There is simply too much at stake for service providers to not actively manage these channels.

TripAdvisor insights on Hotel Guest Engagement

TripAdvisor has compiled a study of guest engagement and found several key factors that drive hotel guest engagement on the review site.

Among the key findings, management responses to TripAdvisor reviews can drive bookings on the site by more than 20% Click to Tweet. Specifically, hotels that responded to guest reviews were 21% more likely to receive a booking via TripAdvisor than hotels that did not respond to reviews. And properties that respond to over 50 percent of their reviews further increase their likelihood of receiving a booking inquiry by 24 percent over those that did not respond.

In addition to creating guest engagement, management responses to reviews seems to have a "halo" effect of higher review ratings. Hotels that regularly responded to reviews from guests have consistently higher reviews as well. From the study:

0% response rate = 3.81 average review rating
5%-40% response rate = 4.04 average review rating
40% – 65% = 4.05 average review rating
65%+ response rate = 4.15 average review rating.

Additionally, hotels with photo displayed on the TripAdvisor site saw a 138 percent increase in guest engagement vs. properties without photos. And for those hotels with more than 1000 photos, the guest engagement factor is a 203 percent increase over those with no photos.

As past studies have shown, the impact of guest reviews on both hotel ADR and RevPAR are significant, so any increase in reviews represents a very meaningful impact for hoteliers and management companies.

In a release, TripAdvisor for Business President Marc Charron tied guest engagement directly to management/owner engagement on the website. "Looking at the results of this study, a clear theme emerges: the more engaged the business owner, the more interested the traveler," said Marc Charron, President, TripAdvisor for Business. "It’s no secret that traveler want to see pictures and read reviews of a property before making their booking decision. What’s really key is the upward trend in average review ratings, traveler engagement levels and booking inquiries on the site, the more frequently a hotel owner responds to reviews. Taking part in the conversation and demonstrating that the owner cares about feedback has a very real and measurable effect on converting a traveler from a casual browser into a potential guest."

Three Luxury Hospitality Reads for the Week

Here are three short, compelling reads regarding luxury sales and marketing in the hospitality segment. I found each of these very poignant for guest service and hotel sales in our industry:

 

Twenty percent of Virtuoso's customers drive 71% percent of sales
This statistic speaks to the old adage of how important it is to take care of your best customers, especially in the luxury hospitality segment.

Biggest risk to luxury brand dilution? Partner Offers
A new study finds that luxury brand cross-marketing is a dangerous tightrope, bringing in new customers when done well but risking market share for both brands when poorly executed.

Four Seasons Hotels are active on 393 social media channels
Is there an effective limit to the "be where your customers are" mantra that has driven CMO and social marketing? Also, is there a limit to the effectiveness of "be where your customers are" in the luxury segment?

 

Interested in seeing more about luxury hospitality sales and marketing? Follow me on Twitter

Want to Connect with more Customers? Stop being a Morning Person!

I can't believe how many emails I receive every weekday morning that ask this key question:

"Do you want to connect with more customers?"

And the answer, of course, is "Well, yeah! Don't we all?!"

A study by GetResponse.com suggests that the timestamp on emails might be as important as your message.

GetResonse analyzed more than 21 million customer emails and found that while almost 50% of all emails arrived in customers inboxes before noon, customers opened a much higher percentage of mails sent between noon and 6pm.

Additionally, the study found that 23.63% of emails are opened within one hour of when they are received. The number falls by half in the second hour and more than 90% after five hours. Clearly getting your email into your customers hands during the business day is key.

So, does this mean I have to stop being a morning person? Well, maybe not. But, if you are connecting to customers via email, you may have increased success if you time your message for receipt between 12 noon and 6pm.

Though highly, highly unscientific, my own study finds that the best time to send a handwritten card is… ALWAYS Click to Tweet.

The One Problem that Costs Hotels the Most Customers

If you consider the number of problems that can befall hotel customers during a stay, it can be a bit overwhelming.

Angry Hotel CustomersBroken remote controls. Plumbing problems. Noise from adjoining guestrooms. Incorrect orders from room service. Room key issues. HVAC issues. Kids running in the halls. Not enough chairs at the pool. Slow service in restaurants. Incorrect room type at check-in.

And the list goes on and on.

Studies show that product problems account for nearly sixty percent of all guest complaints.

But there is one problem – over and above all others – that causes not only dissatisfaction, but a complete break in a hotel customer's trust.

What could negatively impact hotel customer loyalty so greatly? According to data-analysis firm Market Metrix, staff-related problems in hotels can lead to a whopping 26.2% drop in guest loyalty Click to Tweet.

Service problems, on the other hand, make up a much smaller portion of reported problems, but have a much more dramatic impact on guest loyalty. Just look at staff-related problems in the table below. They are only 4.7% of reported problems. But staff problems punch way above their weight causing loyalty to plummet by over 26 points when they do occur.

On the other hand, the nearly 60% of hotel customer complaints COMBINED only account for a 12% drop in hotel customer loyalty.

This study begs the question: With such a large number of guest product complaints, how much time is your hotel spending to fix staff problems?

Television remotes can be replaced, but a disengaged hotel customer may be lost forever.

 

New Study Shows Hotel Reviews Drive Rate & RevPar

A new study from the Cornell School of Hotel Administration details that hotel reviews posted on social travel websites, such as TripAdvisor and Travelocity, positively impact a guest's willingness to book reservations at a premium rate for a reviewed hotel.

"The Impact of Social Media on Lodging Performance," by Chris K. Anderson found that the number of reviews as well as the willingness of consumers to assign credibility to hotel reviews has increased over time. Anderson also found that a 1-point increase on Travelocity's review scale – such as increasing a hotel's review from 3.3 stars to 4.3 stars – drives an 11.2 percent premium in a hotel's rate, while still maintaining occupancy and market share.

Given these results, it's increasingly clear that hoteliers must dedicate resources to monitoring their social reputation, actively review online hotel reviews and invest further in guest experiences on-property to create engaged guests. (Read more on who writes hotel reviews)

Beyond Travelocity, Anderson determined through regression analysis that a 1-percent gain in a hotel's social media reputation is worth 0.89% in average rate lift and a 1.42 percent increase in RevPar. Click to Tweet

The full social media impact study is available online from the Cornell School of Hotel Administration.

Who writes hotel reviews?

Travelers today are innundated with resources to assist in planning trips. Among the tools are first-hand "unbiased" published on the major booking sites, including TripAdvisor, Booking.com, Expedia and others. 

But, have you ever wondered, "Who writes these reviews, anyway?"

Olery, a reputation management company, has taken a stab at answering that question and the answers are pretty interesting. 

Generally speaking, Olery found that hotels receive about 300+ reviews per year on average and that 46% of travelers post hotel reviews. Reviewer demographics skew slightly towards female guests, with a plurality of reviews being written by 35-49 year-old guests.

Interestingly, guests on vacation and leisure travel – those who are spending their own money – write the majority of hotel reviews.