It is essential for owners and marketers to keep pace with the latest hotel trends, because new technology, shifting social attitudes, demographic changes and emerging economic realities are all fundamentally altering how hotels and their customers do business. The outbreak of COVID has added to this, affecting customer priorities and forcing hotels to adapt. In this article, you can learn more about the very latest hotel industry trends for 2021.
16 General Hotel Trends & Specific COVID Related Trends
Hotel industry trends can be separated into two categories: general hotel trends, which are relevant at all times and which you will need to continually monitor, as well as specific COVID -related trends, which have emerged as a direct consequence of the coronavirus global pandemic and its effects on both the travel industry and hotel management.
7 Hotel Trends Linked to COVID
The following hotel trends are all specifically linked to the threat of COVID and have come about as a result of its various effects on the hotel industry and on travel as a whole.
1. Emphasis on Safety and Hygiene
The threat of coronavirus has forced hotels to place a much greater emphasis on both safety and hygiene measures. While these things have always been important, they are now the basis by which many customers will make their booking decisions, because hotel guests are keen to minimise any unnecessary risks associated with travelling.
New hygiene and safety measures need to be implemented, meaning increased cleaning, the provision of hand gel and, in some cases, requirements for mask-wearing in shared spaces. These steps also need to form a key part of your hotel marketing, so that customers are aware of your efforts and so that guests feel safe during their stay.
Please check out “Tips to Highlight Safety in Marketing & Guest Communication” for more further details.
2. Demand for Contactless Payments
Contactless payment is an example of a hotel technology that has been around for a while, but which has gained extra significance against the backdrop of the coronavirus pandemic. This is because contactless payments limit the number of surfaces customers need to touch, protecting them and helping to keep your employees safe at the same time.
In addition to health and safety benefits, contactless payments offer convenience, allowing customers to make payments more easily and much quicker. Offering customers the ability to make contactless payments in as many areas of your hotel as possible can also be an effective way to enhance your cross-selling efforts too.
3. Food & Beverage Home Deliveries
The COVID pandemic has accelerated the existing trend of people gradually moving away from going to restaurants and instead ordering home deliveries more frequently. One of the more interesting hotel trends has involved utilising this information to make extra income by offering food and beverage delivery services too.
Some hotels are competing with even the very best restaurants by focusing on providing experience along with their food and beverage deliveries. Examples of this include providing a scannable QR code connected with a romantic Spotify playlist, or offering freebies, like candles or complimentary menu items.
Customers are also increasingly concerned with sustainability, so it can be a good idea to utilise eco-friendly packaging wherever possible and avoid adding any unnecessary single-use, disposable plastic items.
4. The Deployment of Hotel Chatbots
Chatbots are another of the major hotel industry trends to be aware of and they can be especially useful within the context of the coronavirus outbreak, where staff may be absent due to requirements to self-isolate, and where office hours may be restricted or reduced, in order to ensure employees are kept safe.
One of the best things about chatbots is their 24/7 availability. They can be used to increase direct bookings, provide automated support through the booking journey and they will be able to interact with customers swiftly, in multiple different languages. Chatbots can also assist with upselling, cross-selling and follow up efforts too.
5. Increased Use of Hotel Robots
The growth in the use of robots ranks among the most fascinating hotel trends, with different companies using robotics for different purposes. Some hotels have deployed robots in concierge roles, where they welcome guests and provide important information, or where they can serve as the first point of contact for customer service purposes.
Yet, other hotels have gone further, using robots to provide room service, to carry luggage, or to assist with cooking food. With COVID firmly in people’s minds, robots can also be used to reduce customer-to-staff contact and for housekeeping purposes, helping to clean rooms, kill germs and generally boost hygiene levels.
6. More Widespread Use of Voice Control
Another hotel trends that can be used to reduce customer contact with surfaces is the adoption of more voice control technology. This technology can be used within hotel rooms, for example, in order to control everything from the room temperature to the channel on the television.
Voice control has the added benefit of helping to improve the customer experience through convenience. Smart speakers or voice-controlled hubs can potentially be used by customers to access information from the internet or contact the front desk. You can also promote the use of voice control technology in your marketing content.
7. Implementation of Virtual Reality
When it comes to technology solutions that have grown as a result of COVID, virtual reality must also be discussed. This allows users to experience a realistic digital version of a real-world location, and this can be crucial for convincing customers to complete a booking, especially if they are feeling hesitant due to the pandemic.
Virtual reality tours can also be vital for generating bookings for weddings and business events, because these tours allow customers to experience the facilities without needing to travel to see them in-person. Tourists can also potentially experience nearby tourist attractions, national parks, and hotel rooms. Modern VR tours can usually be carried out through a web browser, while the experience can be improved further if a VR headset is used.
9 More General Hotel Trends
Some hotel trends may come and go, while others become permanent fixtures. It’s vital to stay on top of industry trends in order to reap the benefits of early adoption. Here are nine hotel industry trends that are set to become increasingly relevant in the immediate future.
1. Mobile Check-In Technology
Mobile check-in technology allows guests to benefit from a key-less entry method, removing the need to wait around at reception and obtain a physical key or key card. Instead, using a mobile app, contactless check-in is available and hotels can send users a unique entry code, which will allow them to gain access to the property and even their room.
This can help to streamline the check-in process and allow for more seamless arrivals and departures. As the check-in technology requires guests to download the hotel app, this can also be used to deliver important customer information or even promotional messages, allowing your hotel to easily up-sell or cross-sell too.
A further benefit of mobile check-in technology is the absence of physical keys, which avoids situations where they are lost, damaged or stolen. Instead, everything related to room entry will be controlled via a smartphone.
2. Capitalise Fully on Voice Search
Voice search is one of the biggest emerging trends within the travel industry in general. The rise of smartphone assistants like Siri and Alexa, and the growth of the smart speaker market, have both helped to increase the number of voice searches being carried out. This has then shifted customer expectations as a result.
Now, customers want the ability to book a hotel room using their voice alone. For this reason, it is important that both your website and your booking engine are optimised to allow these bookings to occur. Failing to provide this option can result in other hotels taking guests who may otherwise have booked with you.
3. Smart Hotels
Smart hotels are hotels that incorporate the Internet of Things (IoT) into their operation, using smart devices and systems to streamline the day-to-day running of the hotel, make things more efficient and improve guests’ experience. A smart hotel might use internet-enabled HVAC systems to fine-tune the temperature and ventilation in each room for maximum comfort and minimum energy waste. Smart hotels may also allow guests to use technology such as phone apps or voice control to operate heating and cooling, lighting and entertainment systems more easily. As more and more people make use of smart technology in their homes, smart hotel rooms are likely to see higher demand.
Sustainability has become one of the more popular hotel management trends in recent years, as today’s environmentally conscious customers demand choices that are in line with their personal ethics. At the minimum, modern consumers often require that their hotel be as energy-efficient as possible. Increasingly, however, consumers are searching for hotels where eco-friendly planning is a core feature. From ecologically friendly construction materials to passive heating or cooling and renewable energy sources, the eco-hotel trend looks set to be with us for a long time. Fortunately, this trend is good for hotels too — eco-friendly initiatives often mean lower running costs in the long term.
Customers don’t like to feel that they’re just another anonymous statistic on a hotel’s balance sheet. Greater personalisation in a hotel’s marketing makes consumers feel valued. It’s also more effective, targeting individuals with the precise offers that are likely to be most interesting. Personalised marketing can be directed towards specific users — for example, a guest who had previously spent their summer break at a hotel can be contacted the following year to suggest they book another stay — or it can be aimed at consumers who fit a certain profile and meet a particular set of conditions.
6. Artificial Intelligence (AI)
Artificial intelligence is one of the most important hotel industry trends right now, transforming the sector in subtle but important ways. More and more businesses are using AI to handle some of their customer services, with simple but powerful chatbots providing support, fielding queries and even taking care of the entire booking process. Combined with machine learning, these bots can be very effective in improving customer experience. Other applications of AI include data analysis, making sense of information about customers and formulating marketing strategies. AI can deal effectively with large amounts of data that would overwhelm human analysts.
7. Bleisure Travel by Millennials
The under-40s tend to be a fairly frugal demographic with a work hard, play hard approach to life. These traits have driven one of the most talked-about hotel industry trends to date: so-called bleisure (business/leisure) travel. Combining business and work with leisure travel, bleisure travel represents the best of both worlds. Whether they’re extending a work trip to take advantage of the possibilities offered by a destination or just squeezing in a little sightseeing before or after work, Millennials are finding savvy ways to explore the world without taking time off work. Online work makes bleisure travel even more popular.
8. Healthy Food & Drinks
Modern travellers are increasingly health-conscious. A trip for work or leisure is no longer treated as an excuse to ditch healthy eating habits. Instead, today’s consumers are looking to hotels to provide healthy food and drink options. This is often combined with another of the top hotel industry trends today: local cuisine. Locally sourced produce is very popular with consumers today, as are regional recipes; this can often make for culinary experiences that are both healthy and very enjoyable for your guests. A healthy drinks menu should include sophisticated non-alcoholic options, as these are increasingly in demand
9. Augmented Reality (AR)
Augmented reality (AR) is a close cousin to virtual reality. Where virtual reality replaces the real world with audio and visual input to create an immersive experience, augmented reality simply adds virtual elements to the real world. This could mean, for example, a smartphone app that displays listings, opening times and other information over the business or attraction that a visitor is looking at. Hotels can use AR to provide interactive maps and information about services such as spas, gyms, restaurants etc. Hotels are also using AR games to make their guests’ visits more enjoyable and memorable.