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.
Hotel Show’s latest post in January focused on the Top 10 Things you didn’t know about Nikki Beach Resort & Spa Dubai. True to its title, I did not know that the reclaimed island was one of the best surf spots in the country. But they had not updated the hospitality trends, so we took it upon ourselves to look into each one a little bit closer.
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.
Our personal research has shown 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 2017 survey based on Bank of America data showed that millennials showed the most growth in travel-related spending over the last year, to the tune of a 31 percent increase over the previous year. And you probably didn’t need us to tell you, but it seems they are posting pictures of their visits on social media. According to Internet Marketing Inc., 97% of millennials post photos of their trip—and impressions of the experience—when traveling.
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 addition to an explosion of mobile apps to track loyalty points, streamline check-in and open doors, more properties offer virtual reality to preview a property. Marriott Hotels offer VR Postcards through room service and Best Western allows visitors to preview their destination. That could make picking a venue a lot easier in the future.
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.
More than 75 million visitors traveled to the U.S. in 2016, according to statistics from U.S. Travel Association. That number is expected to rise to more than 83 million by 2020. The U.S. is the No. 1 inbound destination for long distance flights in the world.
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.
The wellness industry is now $3.7 trillion worldwide. Healthy meetings have continued to be a popular tropic and a requirement in new hotel projects. MGM Grand recently announced it would be working with health and wellness guru Deepak Chopra to expand the Stay Well Rooms concept into new meeting space in Las Vegas.
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.
Today, even event management has become integrated from sign-up to check-in, participation and follow-up. Event apps, RFID badges and push notifications make communications efficient, personalized and real-time.
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.
Sustainable sourcing has become one of the catch phrases and following the supply chain back to the source and measuring the impact all the way along the line has become an important part of measuring an event’s environmental footprint.
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 social media coordinator; creative lead, events and experiences; menu planner; audio-visual technician; and yoga instructor.
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.
We now have the #Hotelfie, augmented reality ads and room service virtual reality goggles (see above). We have come a long way.
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 disastrous Fyre Festival in May showed how quickly news about a poorly executed $12,000 per ticket event on a remote island in the Bahamas can travel. And the $100 million lawsuit wasn’t far behind. Social media means there is no longer anywhere to hide.
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.