A focus on experiences, expert local knowledge, and ease of online bookings are paramount to providing guests with experiences going forward

The modern traveler is discerning, tech-savvy, and motivated by visually inspiring and authentic experiences—but capturing their attention isn’t always easy. With endless resources available online, the expert recommendations that hotels and hosts can provide are often overlooked by guests in favor of websites that appeal to their contemporary tastes and digital browsing preferences. 

With the interests of hoteliers and hosts in mind, ATLIST surveyed over 200 travelers across all price points—from budget (<$150/night) to super-luxury ($900+/night), with more than 25 travelers per price band—about their preferred ways to discover and book activities and experiences while traveling for leisure. 

With many properties embracing new hospitality technology for 2020, we’ve shared some insights from our research to help hoteliers and hosts better understand and cater to their guests.

Guests look for accommodations that provide them with an experience that aligns with their aspirational identity

For today’s traveler, a hotel is so much more than just a room—it’s a space that embodies a lifestyle and a persona that inspires them.  With the uncertainty of COVID impacting travelers’ comfort with flying and traveling long distances, the idea of “getting away” has taken on a meaning beyond just physically being far from home.  Travelers want to experience “getting away” in an inspiring environment, even if they’re not physically far from home.  Whether they are intrigued by the idea of life as a yogi, a bohemian artist, or a gourmet chef, guests are attracted to accommodations that they can personally identify with and dream from.

91% of travelers we surveyed agreed that the hotels they choose to stay at closely reflect their tastes and style as travelers. Guests who spent more than $400 per night were more likely to strongly agree with this statement.  With so many choices at their fingertips, luxury travelers are looking for a full, immersive experience, from cohesive decor and landscaping to unique activities, that captivates their imagination. 

Guests feel a strong connection to the hotels they choose, but less so with the concierge

Given how strongly travelers agreed with the statement that they look for hotels matching their style and tastes, it is surprising how dissatisfied most travelers are with the way they currently can access high-quality, personalized recommendations for on and off-property experiences from their hotels and hosts.  

69% of the travelers we surveyed said that they “never” (14%) or “only once in a while” (55%) ask their hotel concierge for recommendations. 

At the luxury price points, we did see more enthusiasm for the concierge, but even at the $900+ price point, 56% of respondents said they “never” (16%) visit the concierge, or did so “only once in a while” (40%). With a wealth of information available online, the majority of travelers across price bands said they do not rely on their concierge consistently.

Guests value local knowledge and curation, but inefficiency, lack of price transparency, and uneven levels of taste undermine trust in the concierge

Among the travelers we surveyed who self-identified as someone who “frequently” or “always” consults with a hotel concierge, 52% said access to local knowledge is the primary motivation. However, travelers across all response groups did not think the concierge consistently helped them save time.  Tedious back-and-forth coordinating of times and schedules with a middleman between activity providers and guests, plus little help from technology, seems to be a key issue.

36% of travelers who said they “rarely” or “never” visit the concierge cited lack of price transparency as their main hang-up. Price was less of a concern for super-luxury travelers, who more often cited bias, taste, and inefficiency as common complaints. 

When it comes to projecting the right level of taste, properties that can provide more context and rich storytelling behind their curated recommendations will see a more favorable response from travelers, who don’t always trust an off-the-cuff recommendation from a junior team member anymore. 

Captivating visuals, descriptive feedback, and insider tips all factor into projecting on-brand recommendations, which can be done more consistently through a website than at the concierge desk. 36% of respondents said written reviews play the most important role when booking travel activities and experiences, while 28% said photos do.  Hotels and hosts that start to take written recommendations and photos into their own hands through insider tips and high-quality photos will build more trust with guests.

Many guests depart without fully understanding all the possibilities they could have experienced through their hotels

When it comes to activities, services, and experiences, most travelers struggle to decipher all the activity options available to them not only in their destination but even at the property they’re staying at.  57% of our respondents said “understanding what all the possibilities are” is the most difficult aspect of trip planning.  

At the mid to high price points ($400+/night), travelers feel less encumbered by budget. They have many options to choose from, but often feel like they have a hard time getting a lay of the land and understanding what all the possibilities are, both on and off-property. At the highest price points ($600+/night), the exclusivity of an activity and the ease of booking also play a role in travelers’ decisions.  

Post-COVID, digital touchpoints will be critical to showcase the full range of experiences available to guests

Hotels have experimented with several digital solutions for guest engagement, from in-room iPads to custom apps, but our survey showed that a mobile-friendly webpage is still the most effective option. 

Compared to the 83% of guests whose top choice is browsing a webpage on their own phone or computer, only 4% of travelers said they prefer to browse an app on a hotel’s iPad, and 2% said they like to read pamphlets printed by their hotel. Downloading a custom app seems to be a chore for travelers, who may not want to clutter their phones with one-time-use apps, while pamphlets are easily misplaced and feel unfriendly to the environment.

While digital touchpoints are important, they are best coordinated with human interactions at the luxury price point.10% of respondents still said they preferred speaking in-person with a concierge. Guests at the highest price point ($900+/night) demand accessibility in all formats: in-person conversations with their concierge as well as seamless web browsing experiences.

How can hotels appeal to the modern traveler post-COVID?

As the needs of travelers evolve post-COVID, properties are increasingly offering their guests self-service options for check-in, requests for housekeeping, and other logistics. But to enhance the guest experience and increase revenue, they should also empower guests with digital ways to browse their local recommendations as well as book in-house activities, services, and experiences online. 

Not only do digital booking platforms connect guests with curated recommendations, tailored to their tastes, but they also support a smooth and direct conversion funnel. Guests can independently browse and schedule activities via their preferred method—a webpage that they can visit on their phone or computer—while still accessing the expert local knowledge and insider tips curated by the hotels they love.  Providing local recommendations on a custom map is another great way to add a digital team member to your concierge desk.

To learn more about our survey insights and how an online activities concierge can save you time, increase revenue, and boost guest satisfaction, book a one-on-one meeting with our team


Survey respondent demographics

Average amount spent on accommodations per night when traveling for leisure: 

<$150 per night: 34

$151-250 per night: 70 

$251-400: 46

$401-600: 26

$601-900: 28

$901+: 25

About us

ATLIST is a web platform which helps independent properties (hotels, inns, bed & breakfasts, vacation rentals, and more) enhance the guest experience and maximize profit. ATLIST empowers property managers to digitize their activity concierge services through mobile-friendly web pages and automated online reservations. This puts guests in control of designing and upgrading their stay with ancillary services, special deals, and activities, while increasing revenue and providing customer data to their hosts.