2021 HOSPITALITY TRENDS 2nd March 2021
COVID-19 has affected every sector across the globe, and the hospitality industry is among the hardest hit. McKinsey 2020 Research suggests that recovery to pre-COVID-19 levels could take until 2023—or later. On the other hand, peoples’ need for physical experiences, social engagement along with the rising interest in wellbeing are inspiring the potential of hospitality experiences to come. Find out here the consumer habits that are driving the future of hospitality.
HEALTHSTYLE: HEALTH & WELLNESS IS THE NEW LUXURY
It’s evident that peoples’ wellbeing has taken a hit amid this health crisis whether physically or mentally. It has also forced us to re-evaluate what’s important, in other words, ‘Health is Wealth’. While hotels had begun to tap into wellbeing, the pandemic has further highlighted the value of health thus accelerating this trend.
The wellness trend fundamentally relates to people prioritising their health, translating into increased interest in physical and mental health activities. With people wanting to keep up their health and therefore, their fitness routine during travel, many fitness and wellbeing brands are entering the hospitality market or are forging partnerships with hotel and travel brands. Luxury hotel brands COMO Hotels and Resorts, Kamalaya, Aman Resorts, Belmond and Six Senses Hotels & Resorts have led the way in ‘healing holidays’, ‘restorative retreats’ and ‘wellness-focused getaways’ Wellness-led luxury environments beautifully balance bespoke, holistic treatments with nature-inspired settings. Programmes address modern stress management, weight loss, nutrition and life transitions for physical, mental and spiritual renewal.
The US market for sleep-supporting products grew 30% in 2020 (Natural Products Insider, 2021), an upward trajectory expected to continue in 2021 according to STYLUS – this February, Aman is leveraging this interest with its sleep retreat. Guests receive a personalised activity schedule every morning, combining yoga classes, nature time, cold-water immersion therapy and lectures on sleep science. With the rise of personalisation, we are noticing the increase in bespoke wellness experiences inspired by guest goals’, from curated menus by nutritionists to a carefully selected series of activities will become essential. AMAN is especially well known for its ‘Individual Wellness Immersions’ that provides retreats from 3 nights to 14 days, all tailored to your goals and guided by various health professionals.
CURATED HOSPITALITY: CUSTOMISING THE STAY TO PERSONAL NEEDS
Curating personalised and unique experiences has always been a major ambition for hospitality. However, with today’s ever-growing expectations, for guests to rate their stay as exceptional it will take more than just covering the basics. Focusing specifically on each guests’ needs, wants and tailoring the services accordingly is where the difference can be made.
This can be approached in various ways and combine data collection, in-person personalised packages and digital customisation processes. Larger hotel chains and groups are largely focusing on data, for instance Accor is focusing its strategy around tailoring the on-property experience referred to as “sparkle stories”. Marriott uses its Bonvoy app to offer hyper-personalised recommendations around in-destination offerings. Moreover, the elite members of Bonvoy can receive a dedicated ambassador to help plan their travel and cater to their needs one-on-one.
The four-star Hotel Lugano Dante in Switzerland offers online check-in and provides a portal called “My Page” for guests to customize their experiences with 150 options. From tailoring the room with baby-related services, to wellbeing features including humidifiers, yoga mats and work-amenities such as printers, desktop screens etc. It also allows the guest to customise their mini bar contents and bed-features allowing ultimate control over their stay. Guests will no longer simply want to book an identity kit room for a flat rate; they will also want to be able to decide on the amenities they wish to fill it with.
SMART HOTELS: HIGH-TECH HOSPITALITY
Smart Hotels is a new hotel category that is likely to continue to grow, especially with digital transformation apace. World smart hospitality market to grow from $6 billion in 2019 to over $12 billion by 2025, the market is driven by the rising internet penetration and growing inclination towards IoT which are encouraging the hospitality segment to offer smart solutions to their customers with the use of digital technology (Smart Hospitality Market, Forecasts 2020-2025)
For hospitality brands that aim to provide convenience, tech-infused personalisation and a functional place to stay, smart-hotels have great potential. As contactless payments, AI chatbots, VR assistance and voice search become intrinsically linked to our daily lives, smart hotels will evolve to become a relevant norm.
Some innovative examples include, YOTEL Singapore Orchard Road Hotel, a contactless hotel stay that includes self-check in and out kiosks, robots performing room-service tasks and delivering to the room’s doorstep. The rooms are similar to ‘futuristic cabins’ and include intelligent features such as the adjustable ‘SmartBed’, Technowall, adaptable mood lighting and smart TV.
Another interesting hospitality experience that aims to integrate smart features to its existing offering is Wynn Resort in Las Vegas. To offer the utmost convenience in engaging with its various facilities such as its shops, concerts, restaurants, spas and current events, the resort has created an app so guests can browse, book, click and collect at the touch of a finger. However, what elevates it further is their partnership with Amazon’s Alexa across its 2000 rooms, allowing guest voice commands including adjusting music, lights, temperature, curtains and information such as news and weather.
Smart hotels are ultimately convenient personalised hospitality experiences. The innovation in this category should not be ignored, as these are the properties that will establish the new trends in hotel experiences.
HYPER LOCAL: THE DESIRE FOR LOCAL TRAVEL EXPERIENCES
Consumers have shown interest in discovering destinations from a local perspective and staying in less touristic environments. Offering experiences to discover cultures, cuisines, history and art from a local standpoint will be fundamental when travel for leisure returns.
The eagerness to explore and discover new things will be at an all-time high post-lockdown. Yet, with travel probably remaining limited for some time and uncertainty lingering, people will be inclined to choose shorter and close-to-home stays but still carry out local experiences
In many ways, Airbnb successfully approached this by building a bridge between local hosts and guests. Understanding the desire for local and authentic experience, Airbnb has elevated its game by creating a hub of local experiences that can be booked in addition of the stay.
With the ambition to create an experience that is truly memorable, OMO Hotels in Japan curate’s specialist tours for their guests showcasing the best their local neighbourhood has to offer. They describe their neighbourhood as the hotel “resort”, meaning a stay in their hotel is as much about experiencing the local area as the accommodation itself. The OMO “Rangers” lead tours ranging from exploring local cultural sights, the best sake bars, sports events or even DJ lessons. They provide some niche tours of the city, with titles like “Trendy gourmet spots recommended for women” and “A tour of retro Japanese spots with speciality shopkeepers”- a hotel that really knows its city.
Using a digital tool AccorHotels’ Mercure brand prides itself on creating properties that are firmly rooted in their local destinations. A while back they launched a Facebook Messenger chatbot named Mercure Bot to help guests discover ‘local stories’. Mercure Bot provides digital concierge services and has conversations with guests to help them discover local gems. The bot can keep track of location details and stories from all over the world and with the recommendations requiring geolocation in order to work, the hotel gains valuable customer data in the process. A strong initiative that allows the brand to accompany its guest throughout their journey.
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