Room letting website Airbnb could reduce hotel revenues by 5-10% by 2020 and small meetings are on the rise. These are two of the predictions for the year ahead from industry association HBAA’s Technology and Innovation (TI) Committee.
TI Committee chair Caleb Parker (CEO of MeetingRooms.com) announced the association’s industry predictions for 2016 at a members’ meeting at Leicester Tigers conference and events venue recently.
“Now is an exciting time in our industry,” said Parker. “We’re seeing a lot of change happening, which creates fear for some. But most of the innovation we’re seeing enables a better guest experience and will ultimately grow the market. To me, that’s something we all need to embrace.”
Parker added that the sharing economy will be on the HBAA’s radar to ensure members have the support needed to be proactive and implement new processes and technology to stay competitive.
Examples of HBAA members’ own technological advances were outlined at the meeting, including NH Hotel Group’s video collaboration and remote connectivity, along with holographic projection for 3D presentations and live streaming for remote delegates.
Also mentioned was the £2.2m investment by QHotels to upgrade their Wi-Fi offering; and Village Hotels’ replacement of their legacy property management system (PMS) with a new cloud-based platform enabling better guest experiences.
Parker predicted free Wi-Fi would become the norm in hotels, regardless of star rating and said venues would update their ability to host more virtual and hybrid meetings.
Parker also pointed to an increased demand for small meetings and claimed that 76% of enquiries last year were for fewer than 30 delegates according to VenueDirectory.com. Venues were embracing online booking tools to support the increase demand for small meetings, Parker said.
Another trend identified by the HBAA’s committee was that entrepreneurship was on the rise, yet 50% of the 5.5m UK SMEs do not have their own office space.
And, taking a page from the Airbnb book, Parker said venues would create a personalised look and feel, giving guests the feeling they are engaging the local team instead of a static brand.
Serviced apartments and hotels would also look to Airbnb to drive bookings, Parker predicted, and said that agents, TMCs and in-house travel managers would include Airbnb accommodations in their list of offerings.
HBAA Chairman Leigh Cowlishaw, added: “As technology continues to dominate the way in which we interact, book, view, feedback and compare business travel and meetings, it is increasingly important for the HBAA to serve up and share with the association and wider industry, technology developments that will change and enrich our experiences and support our choices and behaviours.”