Editor’s note: We wrote the following story in July 2015 and it has been one of your favorites ever since so we thought we would go back and let you know what has changed. The updates are highlighted below, and a few of the findings ended up surprising even us.
The Hotel Show, which stages business to business events for the hospitality industry, has identified what it believes to be the Top 10 trends impacting the hospitality industry in 2015.
In advance of the Independent Hotel Show, the authors named professionalization or leveling up of hotel management—including an increase in the number of women in senior roles and streamlined technology solutions—as a major trend. “While departments such as room service, or the concierge desk, will be pared back due to lessening demand, social skills and local knowledge will be called upon more by guests, who want to feel they’ve landed in a healthy community rich with experiences.” Smart rooms, an emphasis on public areas as a community hub also received shout outs.
1. Catering to millennials
Millennials (those ages 18-34) are expected to represent 50% of all travelers to the USA by 2025, according to the Cornell Center for Hospitality Research. Companies need to define their strategies based on this demographic group’s personality traits and habits—they travel a lot; are early adopters of technology; like personalized interactions and are spontaneous. Hotels will want to please them with easy check-in and gourmet dining experiences at reasonable prices. In return, satisfied millennials will actively promote their businesses on social media channels.
Smart Meetings’ personal research found that travelers of all ages seem to enjoy easy check-in and gourmet dining at reasonable prices. Who knew? But more to the point, a 2018 Future of U.S. Millennial Travel report based on a Resonance Consultancy survey of U.S. 20 to 36-year-olds found that 85 percent put a priority on venturing out of their comfort zones and learning new things. That ranked right behind dining (91 percent) and fun attractions (90 percent).
2. Tech explosion
The majority of guests today are self-sufficient, tech-savvy travelers who are comfortable using apps or mobile websites. Hotels need to make sure their offerings are up-to-date and user-friendly. At business meetings and conferences, travelers expect hotels and conference centers to have high quality tech equipment and a knowledgeable support staff.
In the meeting room, planners are leveraging cloud-based digital registration and event app tools to deliver greener, more personalized experiences. From chat to VR and AR, tech has gone from gee-whiz to must-have as a tool to understand attendee preferences.
3. Influx of international visitors
International leisure travel is on the rise—Dubai International Airport has become the busiest airport in the world. Hotels must be able to provide services in a multitude of languages, and tailored experiences properly suited to the culture and unique needs of their international visitors.
U.S. Travel Association has warned that the U.S. is not keeping pace with global long-haul travel expansion. In the United States, international inbound travel is expected to continue to grow at a rate of 2.2 percent while the same traffic worldwide is estimated at 6 percent.
4. Increased emphasis on health and well-being
Guests today are taking charge of their health; hotels are responding with well-equipped fitness centers, pools and spas. Increasingly, travelers are expecting innovative wellness options. In addition to healthy food options, growing trends include lighting that energizes, air purification, yoga spaces, in-room exercise equipment and even vitamin-infused shower water.
Wellness tourism is estimated as a $563 billion industry. From MGM Resorts and Wyndham Hotels and Resorts’ Stay Well rooms to Pullman’s focus on sleep, food, sport and spa, and Hilton’s Five Fee to Fitness program that puts the capability of a gym in the guest room, the hospitality industry has made it easier to stay healthy on the road.
5. Need for seamless technology
Seamless connectivity across platforms and devices is growing more important. Many hotel groups are offering mobile check-in and digital concierge services. At Aria Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, guests are issued high-tech cards that detect their presence and unlock the door before they even reach it.
Everything is smart these days. Smart rooms, smart badges and smart phones are all connected to share information and make getting what you want when you want it easier than ever. Look for facial recognition to unlock clickless access to just about everything.
6. Sustainability rules
Eco-friendly practices are becoming the norm, as properties focus on renewable energy resources and water scarcity. Many hotels are installing solar panels and updating systems so that air conditioners and lights automatically switch off when guests leave their rooms.
Considering the environmental impact of everything from plastic straws to leftovers has become an essential part of an event professional’s job. Venues are making it easier than ever to track food chains, reduce waste and minimize greenhouse gas footprints.
7. New roles for staff
Many travelers seem to prefer technology to human beings—they want to check-in digitally and don’t mind if a robot delivers room service. This will give staff the opportunity to focus on more personalized service, as opposed to rote tasks.
A quick search for hospitality jobs includes the titles such as social media coordinator, creative lead, events and experiences, audio-visual technician and yoga instructor. To qualify for these more specific roles, many are opting to pursue industry certification.
8. Destination promotion
The explosion of social media is causing hotels to become more involved in destination and self-promotion. Many are featuring guests’ images and tweets on their websites; some are even using the material in their advertising campaigns.
The #Hotelfie, augmented reality ads and room service virtual reality goggles are now “things.” Planners can visualize spaces in multiple destinations without leaving their computer.
9. Real-time damage control
If a hotel guest is dissatisfied, he or she can easily complain on Facebook, Twitter, Yelp or TripAdvisior. Hoteliers must be able to quickly respond. Engaging with customers and responding to their needs through these public forums help maintain positive guest relations and drive future bookings.
The world witnessed TanaCon in real time when 20,000 people showed up for a YouTuber’s event at a venue that holds 5,000, leaving thousands sweltering in the Southern California sun.
10. Unique perks
With so many brands to choose from, properties need to find a way to stand out. Some are offering free daily wine tastings in their lobbies or bars; some are incorporating sophisticated informational screens in bathroom mirrors; and others are giving away curated set lists of downloadable music.
This is the year of the public living room as hospitality properties scramble to create comfortable spaces for informal gatherings in lobbies, restaurants and entries.