Meetings, conferences, large scale events and weddings offer an untapped opportunity for the hospitality and travel industry to build customer loyalty and boost revenue. But Industry players will need to act quickly, because newer competitors such as Airbnb are quietly positioning themselves to disrupt the meetings space not just by opening their doors to business travelers, but by actively promoting themselves to the meeting market.
In November, Airbnb launched its Business Travel Ready program that identifies specific listings with a Business Travel badge. It certifies that the hosts are providing additional amenities suitable for business travelers that both attendees and companies require. Although it doesn’t provide a meetings-specific section on its website yet, that could change any time—the company is already promoting its business platform to meeting and conference planners.
Business travelers, wedding guests and other event participants are increasingly taking advantage of the choices travel provides. From booking a spa visit to adding personal days to a business or event trip, travelers want more ways to personalize their travel decisions. They also increasingly expect digitally-powered customer experiences in room and on property during their hotel stays. Digital is part of people’s daily lives at home and at work. They also expect digital when they travel.
Groups of travelers attending the same event are likely to have common interests, which gives hotels a springboard to personalize on-property meeting and event experiences. For hotels hosting conferences and large weddings, digital could prove to be the critical competitive advantage, making them an attractive option for guests, particularly millennials, and event planners alike.
Opportunities to take advantage of digital might include:
Central hub. Customized trip planning portals for large corporate clients and microsites for weddings can help guests discover hotel services and personalize their experience.
Navigation. Digital signage and mapping apps can help guests navigate through large hotels with ease and find meeting rooms and other amenities without needing to use paper maps or ask staff for directions.
Connection. In the digital age, guests want to be able to connect with each other quickly and easily. Free access to a modern Wi-Fi network and in-room technologies, along with an event microsite, can help guests connect.
Experience. Digital room service robots, room service that reroutes when guests move to a new location, robots serving appetizers at events—delivering innovative digital experiences is no longer something hotels can just dream about. Guests expect and want a mix of digital basics and digital cutting edge, and they are sure to share their experiences on social media, good or bad.
By knitting digital capabilities together into a digital strategy, hotels can raise the bar on the digital experience across the entire customer lifecycle, transform guest experiences, drive greater loyalty and deliver improved business performance. Considering the digital needs and expectations of meeting and event guests is a great place to start.