The new business traveller is personified by Millennials and Generation Y. This market demographic is estimated to increase to 78million users by the year 2030 and represents the fastest growing segment in travel spending. Tech savvy, these travellers very often carry three to four electronic devices – this was highlighted in research carried out by Sheraton Hotels in 2012.
Technology: Getting and Staying Connected
This business traveller expects pervasive connectivity and expects it to be free. There is a growing trend to provide free connectivity however others may opt for tiered connectivity (access levels depending on cost). The business traveller is connected all the time.
The distinction between work and play is now blurred and the hotel room increasingly needs to be an office – with technology and furniture to go with it - hotels should meet these needs. When they venture out, Generation Y business travellers use devices in public places to get access to music, food, people and social situations. They like to be ‘alone’ together and to be treated uniquely.
Mobile and Social Media
Mobile and social media are essential tools – if a meeting or venue doesn’t possess a mobile app it is considered behind the times. Meeting attendees rely on apps to customise their experience or to use during their stay in the hotel. Paper is becoming less and less important for communications to attendees.
In addition to connecting with speakers and attendees, in order to maximise lead generation and target marketing, these apps are customisable and can extend customer engagement. All too often they’re built for a one-off, however they should be used to engage the user, pre, during and post event – for various activities for example:
- Speakers send out teasers of their presentation prior to the event
- During an event presentations can be streamed
- After an event speakers can conduct webinars on subjects that arose as topics in the presentations.
Customised Marketing means Proximity Marketing
- A name badge at event has a transmitter embedded in it, and as you walk around the zoo –you get a message asking you if you have checked out the African mammal exhibit
- A proximity sensor picks up your presence, sends you a text to tell you about free lecture/talk at a particular time
Disney is looking at installing these in its theme parks. Big data makes this possible but with a drawback – the integration of the data – to just have one logon and not 11. APX, or accepted practice exchange, offers synchronised data and standardised costs, specifications, billing and labour tracking –we are getting closer to this. Meeting planners can now use Ipads and devices to integrate some of the data which used to be in a paper folder.
NFC – Near Field Communications
This could be when you pass your device over a sensor to pay for things, or use two devices to pass data between each other. Another option for consideration is Geo fencing, to set up an electronic perimeter which means that you can be registered for the meeting automatically, simply like checking into the hotel with your phone and it becomes your room key, similar to how airlines use mobile check-in.
Technology and Client Expectations: Summary of Key Insights & Trends
- Mobile applications and a solid presence on social media are a requirement –to enable effective listening and to engage with your audience.
- Customizable apps and applications – add value by extending their use for pre, during and post event and conference experiences.
- Technology – consider its use for enhancing client experiences, improving operational processes for delegates, extending audience engagement. This could be Big Data and its integration, personalisation, Near Field Communications, Geo Fencing.
- Consider customised marketing – personalisation – such as providing music a client likes, playing when they check into the hotel room, menus based on client preferences, a newspaper pushed to the client’s device – based on customer data.
- Gamification: Use games to involve your audience and focus on ROE: Return on engagement. Your audience wants to be involved and engaged. The collective intelligence of a room always supersedes the one of the speaker on the stage – this is also a way of collecting data in a low key way. Radisson Hotels have released the hotel industry's first mobile game (Rad Hotel) to simulate real-life hotel management; which allows you to be the hotel general manager and be graded on how well you satisfy your clients and deal with problems. Creative solutions will occur due to audience engagement.
- Hybridisation: All meetings will be hybrid – they will have part live and part virtual experiences put together. Pre, during and post will be hybridised in terms of real and virtual.
The good news is that real meetings are not going away. People want to interact with real people. It’s the experience and the experiential hunger we should be aware of as we construct hotels, venues and facilities, in order to meet the needs of increasingly sophisticated, tech-savvy and demanding business tourism and travel audiences.
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