Who We Surveyed
What do hospitality customers really want from technology? After more than
a year of disruption, the human touch — assisted and augmented by innovative solutions — is more in demand than ever. We’ve crunched the numbers to
reveal all the ways that guests are redefining “value.”
By Daniel J. Connolly, Ph.D., Professor of Management, College of Business and Public Administration,
Drake University; Jungsun Kim, Ph.D., Associate Professor, William F. Harrah College of Hospitality,
University of Nevada, Las Vegas; and Robert Firpo-Cappiello, Editor-in-Chief, Hospitality Technology
The hotel provides confirmation of when your room was last cleaned.
The hotel offers a flexible cancellation policy up to 48 hours before your arrival.
The hotel has clearly communicated about procedures it is using to manage COVID-19 exposure.
The hotel has placed touchless hand sanitizer stations throughout all public areas of the hotel.
The hotel has demonstrated its commitment to environmental sustainability.
The hotel has extended the time period required between guest stays in a specific room to allow for more "empty" time.
You belong to the hotel's loyalty program.
The hotel has reduced its capacity (fewer guestrooms can be occupied).
The hotel requires reservations for use of facilities such as pool, fitness center, etc.
The hotel uses plastic screens at the check-in counter.
These are the percentages of diners who said the following factors were of moderate or extreme importance.
Powering Hospitality’s Recovery
of survey respondents have travel plans in the next 12 months
plan to travel by car in the next 3 months
We’re seeing a modest return to travel among our survey respondents. Defining “travel plans” as a trip with at least one overnight stay with purchased lodging accommodations, a full three-quarters of respondents are planning to hit the proverbial road (compared with 63 percent in our 2020 survey) in the coming year, providing opportunities for hotels, resorts, and restaurants to welcome back guests and build — or rebuild, as the case may be — customer relationships.
Significantly, 43 percent of respondents plan to travel by car in the next three months, while only 23 percent plan to fly during that time period. We believe these trends support the notion that travelers’ enthusiasm remains a bit tentative, with a desire to stay relatively close to home and perhaps to avoid the expense and perceived inconvenience of air travel. Business travel remains sluggish, with only 5 percent reporting travel plans that are strictly professional.
HT’s 2021 Customer Engagement Technology Study reflects current customer sentiments and preferences around travel, food, and lodging, and we cannot help but see this fresh data through the lens of 2020’s seismic shifts due to the pandemic and economic downturn. Here, we present a capsule Executive Summary of our findings, and we invite you to dive into the full study below for detailed data and “the takeaways,” which deliver insights and interpretations that we believe will help power hospitality’s recovery in 2021 and beyond.
• Travelers are returning to the road, with a solid majority of respondents planning to travel in the next 12 months,
mostly by car.
• Confidence in hotels and restaurants is up, thanks to our industry’s efforts to deliver health and safety protocols and, just as importantly, to communicate and demonstrate those protocols on a daily basis.
• For both restaurant and hotel customers, quality of service (as reflected in positive online reviews) remains a higher priority than technology features, reinforcing that the “human touch” is still at the heart of our industry.
• Although hospitality guests value tech features such as mobile ordering and payments, previewing menus, and contactless transactions, they are ambivalent about paying a premium for them.
• Many hotel guests would prefer no housekeeping or limited housekeeping, demonstrating a sea change in response to the pandemic
• Free Wi-Fi remains a top factor in selecting a hotel.
• When ordering food for delivery, a significant majority of restaurant customers prefer ordering directly from the restaurant, citing factors such as quality of food and fewer mistakes when compared with third-party delivery.
Our survey participants represent a broad demographic of regular hospitality customers:
• Respondents were 52 percent female, 47 percent male, and 1 percent preferred not to identify.
• Respondents represent a range of age groups, with 12 percent ages 18 to 23, 27 percent ages 24 to 39, 24 percent ages 40 to 55, and 37 percent ages 56 and older.
• A full 75 percent of respondents plan to travel within the next 12 months, with 75 percent of them traveling for leisure, 5 percent for business, and 20 percent traveling for both.
• Over the past three years 35 percent of respondents had stayed at a hotel two to four times; 16 percent had stayed five to six times; and 37 percent had stayed seven or more times.
• Hotel guests’ preferences represent a range of property types, with 15 percent favoring economy, 37 percent favoring midscale, 30 percent favoring upscale, and 9 percent favoring upscale; only 7 percent favor alternative lodgings such as vacation rentals,
• Over the past three years, 38 percent of respondents have ordered restaurant food (either dine-in or takeout up to three times per month; 31 percent have ordered four to seven times per month; 14 percent have ordered eight to 11 times per month; and 17 percent have ordered a dozen or more times per month.
• Restaurant guests’ preferences also reflect a range of tastes and price points, with 28 percent favoring QSR, 24 percent favoring fast casual, 31 percent favoring full-service family/casual, 16 percent favoring fine dining, and 1 percent favoring “other.”