A Recap of TravelBoom’s 2024 Hotelier Study

by travelboom

TravelBoom’s 2024 Hotelier Study takes an insightful look at the current market and industry hurdles and offers solutions for overcoming these challenges. The study surveyed more than 50 hoteliers operating a variety of transient hotels, resorts, bed and breakfasts, and independent boutique properties. Respondents chimed in from across the U.S., Canada, and locales outside of North America about the most concerning issues for the upcoming year and the trends they were noticing. Do you want to know what industry challenges have fellow hoteliers most worried, and gain practical solutions? Read on for a full recap of TravelBoom’s 2024 Hotelier Study:

A view of the pool at a hotel - a top amenity mentioned by hoteliers in the 2024 Hotelier Study

Key Concerns Highlighted by Hoteliers for 2024

The 2024 Hotelier Study made it clear that cost-saving measures and profitable marketing will have renewed importance for hotels this year. Of all the operational challenges identified for 2024, these four topped the lists for innkeepers, owners, and managers: 

1. Staffing Issues

The #1 response of hoteliers surveyed cited staffing as a major operational concern for 2024. Challenges here include rising employment costs (a worry for nearly 100% of respondents) and finding qualified personnel. Both of these issues have led to chronic understaffing which isn’t expected to level out anytime soon. Guests are getting back to pre-pandemic travel habits whether or not employees have returned, so hoteliers may need to evaluate their reputation and employer offerings or lean on outsourcing to help fill in gaps. 

2. The Economy’s Impact on Travel

Though less than half the hoteliers responded that the economic outlook of their property was an issue, half did admit future financials to be a personal concern. This juxtaposition shows how election years can affect people’s spending. While hoteliers’ properties aren’t being impacted yet, every manager should be aware that November’s election outcome may affect travel spending and occupancy rates. 

3. Rising Cost of Commissions

Two-thirds of those surveyed agreed that online travel agency (OTA) competition is a top challenge. Hotels are seeing a near-split between direct bookings (41%) and OTAs (40%), which means a large portion of their profits are being paid out in commissions. Our data suggest a typical hotel could be shelling out more than $380,000 in annual OTA commissions. 

4. Rate Pricing and Management

The Hotelier Study made it clear the hospitality industry is slow to adopt AI-management technology (only a meager 23% of respondents reported using it). This explains why rate management is a struggle for many brands. Too few hoteliers are leveraging AI to integrate data, inform booking trends, and automate room rate adjustments, which means the majority are leaving revenue behind.

Woman standing on a balcony at a tropical hotel.

TravelBoom Takeaways To Overcome Hoteliers’ Challenges

It’s up to hoteliers to respond to travel trends using industry-leading tactics and technology. Though conquering these challenges requires effort, the improvements will help you get ahead of competitors who are facing similar issues. Consult this list of key takeaways from TravelBoom to get started tackling the hospitality industry’s biggest challenges:

Overcome Staff Shortages

Travelers aren’t the only ones reading reviews—applicants use feedback on hiring websites and social media to make career decisions. Reputation management tactics hotels use for guests can offer insights into where to start building better relationships with existing and potential staff. Though hotel managers cannot do much to reduce the cost of qualified employees, reviewing the service stack and internal processes for outsourcing opportunities can help free up resources for new hires.

Embrace Emerging Technologies

Hoteliers should take advantage of modern technology to help automate and streamline operations, especially as staffing shortages continue. Letting go of outdated systems requires making an investment, but using old technology can waste resources and time—yet fewer than half the hoteliers surveyed have adopted any of the emerging hospitality software. Anyone hesitant to invest in technology should remember that remote check-in capabilities, AI-based rate management tools, and an improved customer relationship management system can improve day-to-day functions and the guest experience.

Out-Compete OTAs

Advertising across a wider range of channels, including metasearch marketing, reduces a hotel’s reliance on OTAs and lower commissions. Encouraging direct bookings will take effort, but an experienced hotel marketing partner can offer the tools and experience to make an impact. A website redesign was on most survey respondents’ to-do list for 2024, and accomplishing this will help improve the booking experience to promote repeat business.

Boost Perceived Value When Hiking Rates

Since 75% of hoteliers surveyed said they plan to increase rates to cover rising costs, it is important to remember that the price increase ought to offer some trade-off for guests. Hotel marketers should review the property’s website to see what amenities are missing or understated and adjust how these are highlighted so travelers can see the value of the property. Not only will this help sell the hotel in general, but it can prevent travelers from backing out of a booking due to sticker shock.

Pay Attention To What Guests Want

Our 2023 Leisure Travel Trends Study offered insights into what guests want out of a hotel, and the list is worth paying attention to. Though hotel room tech is a top trend, an in-room kitchen is a feature respondents of the Travel Trends Study identified as a top-three amenity. Since only 11% of hoteliers mentioned a kitchen at all, there is a disconnect between what guests want and what property managers think they want. By prioritizing guest reviews and using the feedback to shape marketing and future considerations for hotel improvements, hoteliers won’t need to rely on assumptions when deciding which features are important to guests.

Improve Loyalty Programs

Hotel loyalty programs influence 68% of travelers, yet only 43% of hoteliers surveyed confirmed they manage a program in any capacity. This has left room for those willing to implement a reward system to gain ground with travelers. Two items guests say they want out of loyalty programs are immediate discounts and property perks, and each of these can be offered by any type of property to help secure bookings.

TravelBoom is leading the hospitality industry with its insightful research and technology. Our creative, data-driven hotel marketing can help any independent property reach its full potential. If you aren’t sure where to start, contact us for a site evaluation or marketing review today.

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