Wednesday, January 18, 2017

4 consumer behavioural trends every retailer needs to know

Understanding consumer trends is key for the travel and retail industry to foster a more connected and personalised travel experience for consumers.

A study released by global technology provider, Sabre Corporation, in collaboration with TrendWatching, has revealed new consumer shopping and buying trends emerging among European and Middle Eastern consumers that could present new opportunities for hotels in 2017.

The technology company, which provides hotel reservations, distribution and marketing technology to more than 32,000 hotel properties around the world, undertook the research to help its hotel customers plan business and marketing strategies in 2017 and beyond.

The four trends are: ‘Status Seekers’ - the desire for status and recognition; ‘Local Love’ - taking pride in locality and embracing local products and services; ‘Infolust’ - the appetite for timely, relevant and actionable information exchange to solicit more personalised services; and ‘Post-Demographic Consumerism’ - beyond what the society says consumers are or should be.

“In today’s fast-paced world, emerging consumer trends can quickly go beyond a niche, early-adopter group and impact a large portion of consumers and travellers, across regions, styles and inclinations,” said Richard Wiegmann, managing director and chief commercial officer, Sabre Hospitality Solutions, Europe, Middle East and Africa. “Hotel brands that learn, understand and can innovate around these emerging trends will strengthen their customer relationships by providing experiences that go above and beyond what guests expect. This is the first step for hoteliers to stay up-to-date with changing consumer needs and provide true hospitality.”

Identified behaviours driving change in Europe and Middle East are:

‘Status Seekers’ - The pursuit of status
Consumers want to express who they are and their social status through the brands they consume.  With so many choices available, consuming is as much a statement about who I am as what I have. Hotels that can provide an experience in line with expectations for status will do well. According to JWT, 80 per cent of affluent consumers would choose a luxury experience over a luxury item, a 50 per cent increase on the previous year. What if hotels could convert the luxury traveller’s dream into a reality, rethink the entire stay of their guests?

‘Local Love’ - The importance of local context
Despite globalisation and the internet; place still matters. Whether driven by a sense of pride, authenticity, convenience and/or eco-concerns, ‘local’ products, services and knowledge will forever find favour with travellers. A longstanding challenge for travellers has been finding truly local, authentic, experiences – not globalised ‘versions of’. Hotels can tap into the increasing selection of local, and better quality, options to address this need. Hotels can also show empathy and understanding for individuals, as well as helping travellers to show theirs. The hospitality industry is uniquely positioned to benefit.
‘Post-demographic’ - The death of demographic segmentation
Consumers can no longer be “boxed” by age, gender, nationality. They define themselves as they choose, not as society says they are or should be, and choose products and services with little regard for traditional demographic conventions. Hotels need to think differently about how to market to travellers, and leverage data, insights and social channels to build a better understanding of the individual rather than the “segment”.

‘Infolust’ - The need for relevant and actionable information
Consumers’ desire for truly relevant, useful and timely information is insatiable. They seek products, tools and services that provide the right information at the right time. Help consumers save time while travelling by making your hotel searchable and bookable when they are ready. Make their stay memorable by adding personal touches during the stay, help them discover local activities and places of interest. This real-time communication will help hoteliers build their brand image, increase loyalty, and drive incremental revenue. Travellers want on-demand information and personalisation – but more isn’t necessarily better; relevance and actionable information is a must.

Developments in natural language processing (think Facebook’s Bots for Messenger platform) will facilitate seamless conversational commerce. According to Gartner, by 2020, customers will manage 85 per cent of their relationships with businesses without any human interaction. About 53 per cent of UK millennial would prefer talking to a chatbot to a human when it comes to resolving questions about online shopping.

“Sabre invests significantly in customer data technology and mobile solutions to help our hotel customers become better retailers, focused on delivering a truly personalised experience for travellers. With so many hotels fighting for the consumer dollar, a strong technology strategy can help differentiate you in the market,” said Wiegmann.

Since knowledge of a trend does not always translate into understanding how to leverage it, the study gives hoteliers insights and actions to help them prepare for consumers’ future expectations. - TradeArabia News Service

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