The hospitality industry is not immune to many of the meta-trends that are dominating and changing world markets. So why does it seem that so many hospitality brands are gripping firmly, eyes shut tight, to the ways of the past? Perhaps some established brands simply can’t adapt quickly enough to shifting technologies and needs. Maybe it’s risk-averse stakeholders. Whatever the reason, unfulfilled demands and growing trends offer many opportunities for market inventors to take the lead.
Count on smart rooms and chatbots as two of the biggest coming trends in hospitality. While these existed last year, they’re seeing wider adoption and more effective usage in 2018. For example, NoMo SoHo recently became the first hotel in North America to introduce handy, a brilliant smartphone system for guests that allows them to easily contact the concierge, control appliances, enjoy free local data, and get recommendations from a single smartphone interface.
Bots are also growing in popularity, with companies like SnatchBot offering one-stop solutions for hotels looking to leverage the inhuman patience and constant availability of bots. Prospective guests can now get answers instantly from a bot without having to “pick up” the phone that they’re probably already using (study finds 82% of Millennials research on mobile). Bots also provide valuable data: if a hotel notices that 70% of their bot interactions regard pricing, they might need to revamp their site’s “Rates and Fees” page.
Millennials are traveling more than ever, and they’re clamoring for authentic, sustainable experiences. That affects the hospitality world in at least two big ways. First, it means that Millennials are seeking out new and obscure places to vacation. While old standbys like London, Paris, and Bangkok still boast enormous draw, Millennials are also popularizing less traditional spots like Ulaanbaatar, Reykjavik, and Ha Long Bay.
Additionally, Millennials are travelling more than any other generation. Consider that, together with their desire for venturing into new landscapes, and it’s reasonable to assume that Millennials will continue to move beyond the traditional tourist hubs and bring the tourism industry into previously uncelebrated places.
The second way that Millennials (and members of Gen Z) are changing travel is by demanding experiences that are authentic and sustainable. About 75% of US travelers in 2018 seek out different cultures, foods, and adventures, according to a study by MMGY. Their vacations are often centered not around relaxation and luxury, but around authenticity and wanderlust. They’re looking for a transformational experience in another world—whether that means trekking through Patagonia, wild swimming off the coast of Croatia, or sipping craft kombucha in Portland.
It’s no secret: traditional hotels have been losing to home-sharing startups like homestayin, Couchsurfing, and of course, Airbnb. But so far, 2018 has looked like a potential reversal in this trend. MMGY’s study on American travelers found that while 41% of respondents were interested in home sharing accommodations in 2017, the number dropped to 33% this year. That’s even lower than 2016 levels of 37%. Travelers cited quality of accommodations, privacy, and location as some of the downsides of home sharing. None of this is to say that home sharing is going away, but it does suggest that industry growth may have leveled off as it reaches adoption by the late majority.
An additional twist in the home sharing industry? Giants like Marriott are jumping into the mix. In April of 2018, Marriott announced that it would be running a six month pilot with Hostmaker, a London-based management company. Marriott is curating homes that are sure to please guests, with fully-stocked kitchens, laundry machines, full baths, and more. “Welcome Wizards” replace front desk people, greeting guests and helping them find their way around the city. Marriott is trying to provide a more welcoming, less stressful experience than the standard in home sharing —which, you probably know, can often be neither welcoming nor stress-free.
Common and Co-Working Spaces
One last trend to keep an eye on in coming years is a rising emphasis on shared areas. Hotel owners are trying to get guests—particularly Millennials—see value in the hotel beyond their private quarters. When given the opportunity, guests seem interested in coming out of their rooms to work and socialize.
Consider the Dutch hotel chain citizenM. Their new Times Square location features a large open area split into sections for reading, socializing, and more.
“It’s almost like an all-suite hotel,” said citizenM cofounder Robin Chadha in an interview with Metropolis Magazine. “We have one type of room, but we have this communal space where our mobile citizens can gather to work, eat, drink, or even just watch TV. We’re focused on their behavior and what is important to them—what luxuries they do not want to compromise on and what they can live without.”
As location-flexible jobs continue to become more common, co-working spaces in hotels are a logical next step. Take NEST, for example. It’s a cutting-edge co-working space—integrated right into the Dubai TRYP hotel.
“Those using coworking spaces are typically the younger generations who favour workplace flexibility and who are more often than not looking for travel and excitement in the way they work,” writes Victoria Lawson of The Hotel Stories. “The entrepreneurial and collaborative set up of these new age offices also enable workers to connect easily with like-minded individuals, setting up a fluid experience where work can combine with social activities, networking and more.”
Like so many other industries, hospitality is heading towards some major changes in the coming years. Organizations that can stay ahead of these trends—and even spark shifts of their own—stand to gain the most from revolutions in technology, shifts in value, and our increasingly connected world.
About Trevor Stauffer
Trevor unites a passion for clarity with a love of beauty in his approach to writing.
His academic mastery of great writers gave him a strong foundation in classical writing skills, and his time teaching English in Spain taught him to strip language down to a basic, universal essence. For Trevor, writing isn’t just about communicating well – it’s about communicating beautifully.