The 10 trends that are shaping the hospitality industry

1. Bleisure travelers & hotel workspaces

Working remotely has today become commonplace for many employees and is forecasted to become more than just a passing trend. A shift accelerated by the global public health crisis, an unprecedented number of high-profile companies – with big tech companies like Twitter, Facebook, and Amazon leading the way – announced that they will adopt a hybrid or flexible approach to working remotely. In 2021 alone, the percentage of workers around the world that are permanently working remotely was expected to double.

This means that hospitality venues are being used as make-shift offices for bleisure travelers, as well as locals seeking a change of work environment. This is a great opportunity for hotels and F&B venues to capitilize on the trend and adapt their offering to meet the needs and wants of this emerging segment; ample plug sockets, free high-speed WIFI and great coffee are good starting points. 

2. Holistic hospitality, health & well-being

Preventative medicine and self-care are undisputedly trending right now due to the COVID pandemic. The wellness industry is transforming into a booming trillion dollar market and hospitality venues are well positioned to take a large piece of the pie, especially those with existing spa facilities.

In addition to the usual beauty and relaxation spa offering, there is rapidly growing demand for health diagnostic technology and bespoke treatment plans delivered by experts who conduct personal or group sessions to develop vitality, healing, stress management, emotional balance, mindfulness and better sleep

3. Digitalized guest experiences
Apps are increasingly important in the way hoteliers manage the services they provide to their customers and can now control many aspects of the guest cycle and experience. Needless to say, the trend towards digital and contactless services has gained new momentum since 2020. Traditionally, customer-facing services are being given an overhaul thanks to the more widespread use of technology-assisted options, such as mobile check-in, contactless payments, voice control and biometrics.

Consumers who have become accustomed to unlocking their smartphones and laptops using facial and fingerprint recognition will soon come to expect the same convenience in accessing their hotel rooms. Unfortunately for the establishments looking to welcome them, these upgrades may be costly to install and maintain. If you want to stay ahead of the curve, we recommend you dig deep and make the investment.

4. Personalization

Today’s guests have grown to expect to be recognized and treated as individuals. Establishments are going the extra mile to personally greet their guests, while tools such as Mailchimp and Zoho have made personalized e-mail marketing accessible to the masses, ensuring highly target audience-specific communications. Far beyond simply adding the customer’s name to email greetings, data provides insight into past buying habits, enabling hotels to tailor their offers and promotions, and automatically provide similar services to previous stays.

Technological platforms such as CRM and CEM use big data to create one-to-one interactions between the guest and the host at scale. AI-powered chatbots have proven to be a customer service asset both during the booking process and in responding to recurring questions.

Hotel operations more generally are increasingly shaped by the use of management systems to monitor and optimize revenues, customer relationships, property, channels and reputation. Not to mention the rising importance of integrated messaging, predictive analytics, customer profiling and middleware, which seeks to connect any disparate systems. 

5. Experience economy & essentialism

Customers request both extreme personalization and unique experiences. This could very well lead to the death of the travel agent and the rise of the independent traveler.

Travel guilt is real. Minimalism has reinvigorated the otherwise somewhat dusty saying “less is more”. Travelers are decreasingly seeking lavish displays of wealth, preferring instead to spend wisely, purposefully and make a positive impact on the world. Unique experiences that give back to local communities in meaningful ways are in demand, as are niche properties, adventurous holidays and relaxation retreats.

6. Asset management strategy
The asset-light approach has become prevalent in the industry. The separation between the management of operations and real-estate assets now allows hospitality companies to focus on their core business, thus improving efficiencies.

It however induces additional complexity and potential agency problems, explaining the emergence of new types of jobs, such as asset managers. In addition, new job profiles have emerged following the increasing complexity of the hospitality industry. In parallel, the need for quantitative competencies (for forecasting, budgeting, etc.) has also increased.

7. Solo travel
In the age of mindfulness, many have embraced the meditative value of spending time alone and venturing out into the big wide world unencumbered, interacting and making friends to whatever degree suits. In an effort to make solo travelers feel comfortable, barriers between hotel staff and guests are being lowered, interior design choices made to evoke a sense of homeliness and an informal atmosphere cultivated. This, along with a less stark divide between guests and locals, encourages a feeling of hotel community.

8. Sustainability

A hospitality trend that is both current and a hallmark of recent years: “sustainability” once again assumes its position. A natural extension of avoiding disposable plastics, eliminating unnecessary paper consumption thanks to opt-in receipts and reducing food waste, more far-reaching ethical and environmental considerations are shaping decisions made at the hospitality management level. Decisions about things as simple as which towel rails to install during renovations have disproportionate repercussions when implemented at scale. Simple eco-friendly switches include replacing miniature toiletries with larger, locally sourced dispensers, choosing ethically produced bedsheets made from organic materials and reducing energy consumption with smart bulbs, etc. Vegetarian and vegan options also harbor well-known environmental advantages.

9. Virtual & augmented reality

Following on from the orientation towards visually appealing content, it seems only natural that businesses in the hospitality industry should seek to capitalize on features such as virtual tours, conjuring up a digital environment for consumers to picture themselves in.

Videos providing 360-degree views of restaurant ambiance, café terraces enveloped in greenery or hotel beachfront locations, for instance, are just the ticket to make an establishment stand out this year. As ever, keeping the access threshold low is key to reaching as broad an audience as possible with virtual reality material: making content accessible on a variety of devices, without the need for a VR headset.

Once on site, guests should be able to whip out their trusty sidekick – their smartphone – and simply point it at real-world artefacts to summon up additional information. Augmented reality uses graphical or informational overlays to enhance in-situ environments. Once they have downloaded the respective app, guests can use this tool to access restaurant opening times, reviews or interactive tourist information maps or even create user-generated content. 

10.  Traveling less (& Staycations)

Travel restrictions in 2020 and 2021 have facilitated the rise of the staycation. Even with international travel opening back up, between airline price hikes, Covid testing requirements and the complicated bureaucracy involved in going abroad now, many deem foreign travel either too expensive for a big family vacation or not worth the hassle for the weekend breaks of the past. Hence, opting in favor of the staycation trend instead, or simply travelling much less than pre-pandemic levels. 

In fact there is a multitude of reasons vacationers may also be choosing to stay closer to home, such as for environmental or budgeting reasons, with this year having seen a marked uptick in holidays spent more locally. Lucky for those who live in an already tourism-rich, picturesque country with a pleasant climate.

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