Fully digital or dead zones: Hotels want to offer technical convenience

Typing instead of speaking

With the help of computer programs, one can see better how much food is actually needed, Warnecke gives an example. Chatbots answer questions about the trip. More and more customers prefer typing their requests to asking them on the phone. Other houses have tried the use of service robots, such as waiters. Devices with voice services such as Alexa, on the other hand, tend to raise the suspicion that people are listening in. “Many hotels are cautious about that.”

It all starts with the preparations for a trip: Many customers look for offers on the Internet. After two years of Corona, the number of searches for hotels in Germany has risen again – and is even above the pre-pandemic level, says Lutz Behrendt, who is responsible for the travel sector at Google Germany. When searching for “last minute vacation”, the plus is even 1075 percent.

Trends as a result of the pandemic are also visible in the queries, as Behrendt says: For example, people are looking for accommodation wanted that allow dogs or where you can stay more than 30 days – keyword Staycation. “There are a lot of new niche inquiries,” says the expert, who is also expected to be a speaker at the hotel congress.

Hoteliers can counter this on Google with company profiles in which they present their offers in great detail. During the pandemic, new attributes on the topic of hygiene were introduced here, and filter options for ecological standards are to follow in the course of the year.

Association: need to catch up in online marketing

Especially in online marketing and – Many in the industry need to do better in terms of distribution, admits Warnecke, Managing Director of the Association. Basically, all houses have a homepage, but by no means all of them have an online booking option.

Artner vom Öschberghof doesn’t think that’s up-to-date at all. Five people work there in the marketing and digital office. “Being visible costs money,” says the hotel manager. Sometimes a five-digit sum for a good website, appearances in social media or customer acquisition in new countries. Hiring an e-commerce manager could also be worthwhile. “We have to get away from the idea that someone can do it on the side.”

Expenditure on digitization is a sustainable investment, and the effects are not necessarily immediately noticeable, explains Artner. In the end, they help, for example, to save energy, avoid paperwork and improve customer service.

The hotels also want to reduce their dependency on booking portals. 30, sometimes up to 60 percent of bookings come this way, says Warnecke. Just last year, hotels successfully fought at the Federal Court of Justice to be able to offer their rooms on their own website at lower prices than on Booking.com, HRS and Expedia, for example, where commissions are due. The Cartel Senate ruled that the platforms should not prevent this via so-called best price clauses in their contracts.

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