56% of UK guests prefer to check-in with hotel staff in-person, compared to 49% of guests globally 73% of Brits prefer to pay with their card at hotels, with digital wallets far lower at 17%, but this changes substantially for international visitors. Globally, 34% of guests say having their preferences acknowledged as a returning guest is important for driving loyalty.

LONDON: 27th September 2023  Planet, a global software, payment, and technology solutions firm, today announced the findings from its latest guest sentiment poll conducted across 19 countries. The report provides important data and insights to hoteliers as to what domestic and international guests want from their stay, from booking through to check-out, including their payments preferences.

Even before booking, hotels need to do more to make themselves an attractive option Browsing on a mobile is second nature for many people and applies for booking hotel accommodation. 59% of consumers globally browse online for hotel reservations; this rises to over two-thirds (66%) in the UK.

It’s especially important for internationally focused hotels, with travellers from the UAE (69%), the USA (69%) and China (82%) – all of which are important source markets for the UK – saying they browse on their mobile when booking a hotel.

UK hoteliers need to make sure they have a mobile-optimised website to appeal to a broad potential customer base. While 73% of UK guests always book a hotel online, 61% opt to use online travel agencies (OTAs) to make their bookings. The main reason given by UK guests for choosing not to make their reservations directly on a hotel website is that they don’t want to pay in full up-front (35% in the UK vs 29% globally).

Hoteliers looking to grow direct bookings should therefore consider offering preauthorisations or deposits on their websites to help ease the pressure UK guests are facing on their discretionary spending. Offering a range of payment options is required to appeal to a global audience.

The research shows that 73% of Brits prefer to pay with their card at hotels, with digital wallets much lower at 17%. Only 24% of UK guests said it is very important when paying for goods and services in a hotel that payment methods other than credit/debit cards, such as digital wallets, are offered.  But this changes for a global audience, with over a third (35%) wanting to use alternative payment methods – particularly German (60%) and Spanish (49%) guests – while Chinese tourists strongly prefer Alipay or WeChat Pay (84%).

Globally, consumers also have a strong preference to pay using their preferred currency for hotel reservations (48%), at check-in (39%) and for spending during their stay (19%). Offering a variety of payment options and currencies therefore equips hotels to cater to the differing preferences of international guests.

Hoteliers need to tailor the hotel stay experience to build loyalty Over half (56%) of UK guests prefer to check-in with hotel staff in-person, so still demand a traditional face-to-face greeting and hotel service. Yet at the same time, they want this to be a quick process; one-fifth (18%) say that they always need to complete forms at the front desk when they check-in with hotel staff, which takes away from the initial guest experience.

Similarly, at check-out, 52% of Brits say that a quick process with no queues is the most important element for them.  Globally, the research suggests more of an appetite for digital-led experiences. Fewer than half (49%) want to check-in with a person, but a third (32%) prefer to check-in via their smartphone; this is unsurprisingly more so the case for 25-34 year-olds (37%). Investing in the right level of automation for the check-in, and -out, process is crucial in being able to tailor it to different needs and so there is less time spent on paperwork and more time for staff to focus on delighting guests.  Automation and data capture from these processes, including payments data, can also help to boost loyalty by creating tailored experiences.

At the moment, almost a fifth (18%) of UK guests say that when they return to the same hotel, staff never recognise them as a returning guest and for a quarter (24%), none of their details were saved on file. However, for the same percentage, having their hotel stay preferences being acknowledged is important in driving future loyalty. This is even more important for visitors from the US (48%), China (42%) and Italy (35%).

Commenting on the findings, Lennert De Jong, President of Hospitality at Planet said: “With hotel owners starting to look ahead to next year, they’ll be thinking about where they should invest and who to partner with to help them deliver an amazing guest experience that wins hearts and minds of domestic and foreign visitors.

“Fundamentally, hoteliers need to approach this planning from an end-to-end perspective, from booking through to ongoing loyalty – each part of the chain is important and if one drops, it can impact the entire experience.

“As such, integration by connecting payments and software holds the key to creating seamless customer journeys, empowering them to wow their guests.”

About the survey

The survey was conducted by Censuswide on behalf of Planet. 6,559 consumers in the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Spain, the Nordic countries, the United Arab Emirates, the United States, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Singapore, China and Italy who have stayed at a hotel in the past 12 months and do so more than once a year were surveyed via an online link in early May 2023. Survey topics included hotel booking habits, Wi-Fi and payment preferences.