U.S. hoteliers expect pricier rates for travelers ahead of the fall travel season, as nearly half (47%) expect rates to go up higher this year compared to the same time last year, while only 16 percent expect comparatively lower rates, TripAdvisor reports.
The latest TripAdvisor Industry Index offers insights into hospitality industry trends as well as isights into the accommodations' business outlook. It also suggests how they are engaging with travelers on social and mobile platforms and their plans to offer eco-friendly programs.
Highlights from the TripAdvisor study:
Bright Business Outlook for U.S. Hotels: The U.S. ranks fourth in the world for hotels with the best business outlook, while Greece ranks last, according to respondents' answers to a number of questions gauging the perceived health of their business. Indonesia was first, followed by Brazil and Russia.
Larger Properties Most Profitable and Optimistic: Thirty percent of U.S. accommodations reported to have been extremely or very profitable within the last six months, up from 27 percent when TripAdvisor conducted its last Industry Index survey in Dec. 2011. By comparison, 24 percent of accommodations in the Caribbean and 21 percent in Canada indicate they have been profitable in the last six months.
Across North America, larger properties (with over 50 rooms) reported to be more profitable than smaller properties (with 50 or fewer rooms). In the U.S., 34 percent of larger properties indicated that they had been extremely or very profitable, compared to 24 percent of smaller properties.
In the U.S., accommodation owners' economic outlook has diminished slightly, as 62 percent now expect the economy to improve, down from 65 percent in Dec. 2011. Economic outlook, however, appears to vary by property size: 67 percent of larger properties and 57 percent of smaller properties expect economic conditions to improve a little or a lot in the next six months.
Mexico and Caribbean, Not U.S., Best Place for Hotel Jobs in North America: According to the survey, a greater percentage of Mexican (21%) and Caribbean (20%) hoteliers plan to increase the size of their staffs than their counterparts in the U.S. (15%). In the U.S. plans to hire have dropped down from 27 percent, according to TripAdvisor's Dec. 2011 survey.
Outside of North America, hoteliers in India (39%) and Brazil (34%) are reportedly the most likely to increase the size of their staffs, while hoteliers in France (6%) and the UK (8%) are least likely to add new employees.
Room Rate Rankings - Who's Increasing/Decreasing Rates ahead of Fall: (Note: Rate trends compared to same time last year)
Top 5 for Lower Rates:
1. Greece – 58%
2. Spain – 43%
3. Italy – 37%
4. Australia – 32%
5. New Zealand – 29%
Top 5 for Higher Rates:
1. U.S. – 47%
2. Brazil – 42%
3. Russia – 42%
4. Indonesia – 37%
5. Turkey – 35%
Special Offers and Deals - How U.S. Accommodations Win Guests: (Note: Special Offers used most often to attract guests)
Top 5 Special Offers:
1. Discounts of rooms – 58%
2. Special amenities (e.g., free Wi-Fi) – 44%
3. Free parking – 31%
4. Rewards points – 30%
5. Free newspapers – 20%
Twelve percent of U.S. accommodations do not offer any special offers.
What's with free Wi-Fi? 93 percent of U.S. respondents report offering free in-room Wi-Fi Internet access while 17 percent of the respondents who do not currently offer free Wi-Fi, plan to do so in the next six months.
Social Media Rankings Show U.S. Falling Behind: (Note: Rankings based on respondents claiming to use social media to engage with travelers). Ranked #13 in the world for usage of social media to attract travelers, the U.S. (69%) trails behind Malaysia (89%), Indonesia (84%) and Mexico (83%) who all topped the charts.
In the U.S., 70 percent of hotels and 69 percent of B&Bs reported using social media to engage with current or potential guests. Overall, across property types and sizes, respondents cited industry research/reports (57%) and staying current with the competition (30%) as the top reasons why they are using social media, while posting deals (64%) and responding to guest feedback (58%) were the most common responses for how they are using these sites.
Thirty percent of respondents monitor mentions of their property once a day with 56 percent reporting that internal staffs manage monitoring responsibility. In both cases, these were the most common responses.
Eco-Friendly Programs - 'Win-Win' for Hotel Budgets and Environment: (Note: Rankings based on respondents claiming to offer eco-friendly practices). Ranking #7 in the world for eco-friendly practices, U.S. hoteliers (81%) are staying ahead of their counterparts in Mexico (75%), but trailing behind Canada (91%). The most common eco-friendly programs are towel/linen reuse (82%) and energy efficient light bulbs (78%). When asked why they offer eco-friendly programs, respondents cited cost reduction (66%) and industry trend (51%) as their top rationales.
Conclusions: "The TripAdvisor Industry Index underscores the current economic climate, as hoteliers in North America, Asia-Pacific and Latin America are all approximately twice as likely to report being profitable in the last six months that hoteliers in the EMEA region," said Christine Petersen, president, TripAdvisor for Business.
"What's encouraging is the traction accommodations are making in the areas of online, social and mobile marketing. While currently only a quarter of respondents offer programs to engage with mobile device users, we expect this number to grow, especially since a separate TripAdvisor survey confirmed that 44 percent of travelers plan on using their mobile phone or smartphone more as a travel resource during trips this year," Petersen said.