Cloudbeds

2018 Edition

Introduction

The hospitality industry is ever-changing and the global scene is changing faster than ever before. As a whole, the industry continues to grow and consumers are traveling more than ever.

Every year, we take a look at what we think will affect independent properties and the hospitality industry as a whole. We have a lot to look forward to as new technology enters the market and existing players become more innovative.

2017 was an exciting year for us at Cloudbeds, and we’re ready to take on 2018 head-on. Without further ado, here are our predictions for the hospitality industry in 2018.

Hospitality Industry Growth Projections

Overall, the hospitality industry had a solid 2017 with the ninth consecutive year of positive growth. Every year, STR, a hospitality industry data company, predicts the industry’s growth in five categories: supply, demand, occupancy, ADR, and RevPAR. We use their data as a general benchmark for the industry.

STR measures growth in seven segments, including independent properties. The independent segment is expected to come out on top for ADR and RevPAR growth, +2.8% and +2.7% respectively.

STR 2018 Growth Predictions
For 2018, STR expects to see nominal growth in every category except occupancy, which will experience a minor decline. Much of the decline in occupancy is due to increased supply in the market, rather than a decrease in the number of travelers.

Big Data and Data Protection

Big data has been a buzzword for years now, but we’re finally seeing new solutions reach small to medium-sized businesses. Taking control of your data is the first step to creating better strategies for everything from staffing to rate management. In today’s world where nearly everything happens online, it’s essential to take a look at the data that matters most to your business.

As we head into 2018, we expect to see more big data solutions make their way to the small to medium-sized independent property segment. We expect companies to use the data from your property management system or booking engine to make your data actionable, or at least understandable. While many property management systems offer their own reporting solutions (like Cloudbeds!), some do not, and that is a huge disadvantage for a property of any size.

Big data is great when you can use it to take action – whether that’s tackling a new market segment or adjusting your rate plans to compete against your competitors. However, the biggest concern around big data and the necessary data harboring is the safety around it. Every data harborer’s goal is to keep their customers’ data safe, but that’s easier said than done. In recent years, we’ve seen massive data breaches that have literally put hundreds of millions of consumers at risk – like Equifax and Target.

Because you’re at the mercy of these data companies and the malicious hackers, it’s important to be careful who you trust with your property’s most precious data.

Activities and Lighting Up the Guest Experience

Activity was a trend we predicted for 2017 that played out in a huge way – so much so that we’re carrying it over to 2018. Last year, more than a handful of startups took in more than $200m in funding, and massive players like Marriott integrated their activities and tours segments into their rewards programs.

The activities market, which includes everything from tours to bike rentals, is a multi-billion dollar segment of the hospitality industry that no individual company or entity controls. The current market is so fragmented that there is no “go-to” site to plan a trip beyond where you’re physically staying. Depending on where you’re traveling or the type of experiences a traveler seeks, there are hundreds of different ways to find activities.

The current state of the market means that every player in the hospitality industry is itching to grab this ancillary revenue. From individual properties to OTAs to other third-party companies – there is a massive opportunity to capture travelers’ attention and money.

This year we expect one of the many startups chasing consumers’ attention to make meaningful headway into the space. We’re not sure if too much money will pour into activities-based startups or if those dollars will find themselves elsewhere.

We see two opportunities in the activities market. First, connecting travelers to activities they know they already want to do – like a theme park or sporting event. And second, connecting travelers to entirely new experiences they do not know about. Often these types of activities are unique to the destination and require knowledge of the local area and culture.

Bitcoin

It’s hard to ignore the hype around Bitcoin as it has made massive waves in the final months of 2017. If Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies become more prevalent in day-to-day life, it might be time to start looking for a payment processor that accepts bitcoin or other new-age currency types. Stripe, for example, has already enabled their payment processor to accept bitcoin and Square is testing it with some users.

Bitcoin may be booming right now, but it is a completely unprecedented form of money that may or may not take off. Only time will tell if it will become a stable form of currency.

Overlap of Vacation Rentals and General Lodging

We’re starting to worlds collide in the hospitality industry. The websites that were created for vacation rentals will start to show traditional accommodations and website created for traditional accommodations will start to show vacation rentals. Powerhouses like Airbnb now allow non-vacation rental properties on their site. Other vacation rental sites like VRBO and HomeAway will cross-post listing on larger, non-specific OTAs.

We’re also seeing traditional hotel companies build and purchase properties to rent them out as vacation rentals. The idea of hotels moving into the vacation rental space doesn’t feel like a huge stretch because they’ve had timeshares or similar programs for decades.

As the idea of vacation rentals becomes more mainstream, we expect more consumers to flock to the idea of alternative accommodations. Just like hotels and other traditional properties, vacation rentals come in all shapes, sizes, and price points.

Overtourism

Overtourism is affecting cities across the world in big ways. The most noticeable problems with tourism include stress on the local infrastructure, traffic, and environmental impacts. European cities like Amsterdam and Barcelona are two of the most impacted and have felt the wrath of what overtourism can do to a city.

But what solutions are there to overtourism? Limiting transportation options, increasing prices, marketing, and collaboration between key stakeholders are among Skift’s top ways to deter tourists. And in many cases, the solution seems to be to attract the right type of travelers – those who will stay longer and spend more money at the destination. As opposed to travelers, like those on cruise ships, who may only pop into a popular city for a few hours – congesting the city without contributing much to the local economy.

As we head into 2018, we’ll see how cities around the world begin to deal with over tourism and combat the problems it causes.

Technology In Properties

Technology and hospitality have a lot of different facets. You have the technology properties use to run the property (PMS, CRM, CRS, channel manager, etc) and then you have the technology that guests interact with (tablets, TVs, speakers, etc).

Backend Property Software

At Cloudbeds, we have some insight into how backend property software is evolving. The companies that are building property management systems, channel managers, booking engines, revenue management systems, reputation management systems, and beyond, are evolving. Many of the companies we watch, both within our segment and not, are becoming larger, more reliable, and all around better.

In the next year, we’ll see new features and tools integrated with existing technologies. Many of the small to medium-sized companies in the market face intense competition and the race is on to create the best experience.

We predict 2018 to offer more streamlined software solutions. In a perfect world, this means fewer stand-alone tools and more integrations and all-in-one solutions.

On-Property Technology

As for traveler-facing, on-property technology, we’ve seen hundreds of different ideas tested. From tablets in rooms to giant touchscreen computers in the lobby, many properties want to offer a tech-forward experience, but somehow many miss the mark. The problem, from our perspective, is that most of the technology implemented up to this point are clunky and in addition to whatever device travelers already have.

For example, a giant touchscreen computer in the lobby with information on the local area is only helpful when a traveler is on the property. But, if a property places that information on their website in a mobile-friendly form, it would be available on the travelers’ device – even while they’re trekking the town. Even in-room tablets seem unnecessary in a day and age when most travelers are carrying around at least a smartphone that can perform many of the same functions.

The technology that will survive and thrive in 2018 will be those that act as companions to travelers existing devices. For example, a portable hotspot enables guests to use their own devices while they’re not on the property. An in-room tablet that only works during the time at the property is far less useful, even for those who hang around all day.

Hello 2018, We’re Ready for You

Now the fun begins as we watch hospitality industry trends continue from 2017 and watch new ones emerge in 2018. As we enter 2018, we’re happy to continue our conquest to support independent properties and operators. Join us in the new year as we continue to share our perspective on the hospitality industry