As the year comes to a close, this column looks at trends hoteliers should be preparing for in 2020, which include sustainable accommodations and technology innovations that work seamlessly alongside hotel staff.
Recent research shows the hotel guests of tomorrow will be sophisticated and savvy. Experts predict the next wave of guests will largely engage via mobile, anticipate personalization, expect less human interaction and hope to book at the last second.
A few questions linger: How can hotels ensure the modern guest is satisfied? How critical is it to adapt to new industry trends?
Keeping pace with the wider hospitality industry is one way hotel owners and operators can make certain their business is delivering a unique and excellent customer experience while staying ahead of the competition. It is crucial for hoteliers to stay plugged into industry trends, especially as the New Year quickly approaches.
Below, we will explore some of the noteworthy hospitality trends of 2020, including sustainability and technology.
Sustainability has been one of the most noticeable hospitality trends of recent times, with a growing number of businesses promoting eco-friendly initiatives. In fact, 55% of global travelers say they are more determined than ever to choose sustainable accommodations than they were last year, but the lack of appealing options makes it difficult to put this into practice. Many well-known hotels have made the switch and are now beginning to offer alternatives to single-use plastics, including bathroom toiletries, reusable or biodegradable coffee stirrers, plastic straws and water bottles.
As this ecological trend continues to evolve, hoteliers need to be conscious of not only the brand’s carbon footprint, but also the guest’s footprint during their stay. How many single-use plastics are guests using in their room? Think about laundering towels and sheets, as well as complimentary shower products and other toiletries. What can be eliminated or replaced with a greener alternative? Consider the guest’s carbon footprint when determining where to start on sustainability. This way, the guest can take an active role and see the brands eco efforts first-hand.
Integrating an in-room recycling program for guests to easily dispose of plastic and paper waste or improving water efficiency could be a great and affordable first step in becoming a more eco-friendly brand. Introducing this type of programming can also reduce costs, with some hotel chains reporting a 15% reduction in water usage when switching to water-efficient bathrooms.
Today’s guest is tech savvy and self-sufficient, with expectations to use mobile apps or websites when reserving a room and for the duration of their stay. Hotels need to offer user-friendly and up-to-date technology from the online booking process to the personalization of a room. A recent trend has sparked around integrating smart speakers and voice technology into hotel rooms, allowing guests to easily obtain information and updates with ease.
A recent study by Adobe discovered that 72% of travel and hospitality businesses see a mature digital foundation as very important in the coming years for ensuring personalized guest experiences. However, when it comes to integrating technology in a hotel, it is important to find a balance between human and non-human interaction.
It wouldn’t be wise to create a space where guests never interact face to face with hotel staff. Instead, the technology should work alongside the staff seamlessly. For example, try adapting to mobile room keys alongside mobile check-in, so guests don’t necessarily have to stop at the front desk upon immediate arrival, allowing the guest to interact at their discretion. It is not necessary to integrate expensive technology like virtual reality or robots to make a hotel more tech-friendly and personalized.
A great way to start is by integrating technology that guests already use in their day-to-day lives so it becomes a matter of convenience and helps reduce the learning curve. Start with introducing technology that allows guests to use their own personal devices without the hassle of downloading an app. Try introducing texting software to allow your guests to communicate with your team via mobile or upgrade your television to allow streaming from a guest’s personal device. You can also improve social media channels, update the brands website, ensure mobile check-in procedures are up to date, and customize streaming services so guests can easily access their favorite shows and movies. No matter the technology, strong wireless internet connection while on property is a must for guests today and into the future.
Another noteworthy trend includes curated local experiences. Guests are becoming more interested in unique packages that allow them to live like a local, which is a fairly simple trend to latch on to. Market a hotel brand as a one-stop shop for a getaway destination or local staycation opportunity. Create bundles that offer incentives to visit local restaurants and attractions, and personalize these experiences regularly for the season and type of guests. One example could be offering a New Year’s Eve package that includes an overnight stay, in-suite party favors, dining at a local restaurant, a champagne toast at midnight and complimentary bar snacks for the evening.
Demand within the hospitality industry will continue to increase in 2020, and CBRE Hotels Americas Research forecasts consecutive growth for the U.S. hotel industry throughout 2022. With growth, guests’ needs and expectations will continue to evolve in 2020 and beyond. It’s up to hotel decision makers to identify, execute and meet or exceed those expectations.
Jonathan Webster is the vice president of lodging for Geronimo Hospitality Group, which was founded to provide memorable guest experiences through its genuine service and original brands. The company owns and operates seven restaurants (Velvet Buffalo Cafe, I.d., Blue Collar Coffee, truk’t, Lucy’s #7 Burger Bar, Merrill & Houston’s and Bessie’s Diner), four hotels (Hotel Goodwin, The Delafield Hotel, Ironworks Hotel Beloit and Ironworks Hotel Indy), two golf facilities (Beloit Club and Ironworks Golf Lab), two fitness centers (Bark River CrossFit and be FITNESS), and one event center (Eclipse Center). For more information, visit www.geronimohospitalitygroup.com.
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