7 industry trends that every hospitality employee should pay attention to in 2018
The hospitality industry is always evolving as guests seek out new experiences and destinations, and hotels introduce new features and perks to stay competitive. In 2018, watch for these trends that are poised to shape the industry.
Hotels are increasingly turning to robots to deliver items to rooms. One of the latest hotels to jump on this trend is Luma Hotel Times Square, which announced in December that it’s offering a robot butler from Savioke that navigates to guest rooms carrying requested items. Robots are also performing some housekeeping, storage, and transportation tasks in other hotels.
Chatbots, which are computer programs that can interpret and respond to guests’ questions and requests, are providing guests with personalized service. For example, InterContinental Hotels Group offers a chatbot through Facebook Messenger for some of its Hotel Indigo properties; the bot can handle some customer service requests and recommend activities and excursions. As artificial intelligence capabilities improve, expect more hotels to harness this technology to provide instant, customized service that’s responsive to guests’ needs and preferences.
3. Virtual reality
Virtual reality gives people an immersive experience using headsets and other gear; to the user, it appears that they’re at the center of the virtual action. Marriott has used virtual reality to provide guests with immersive in-room experiences and to create postcards that tell a story in three dimensions. As this technology is adopted more widely, expect more hotels to implement virtual reality in their marketing campaigns, guest rooms, and public spaces.
Micro-rooms, also known as pods or capsules, are compact accommodations that offer just enough space for a bed and basic necessities. While micro-rooms clearly won’t appeal to all travelers, they’re growing in popularity among those who want to save money or to have a novel lodging experience. Pod Brooklyn is a recent addition to this niche.
5. Direct booking
Hotels aim to increase direct bookings because online travel agencies cost hotels money—and because when guests book directly, the hotel gains valuable data on guests’ preferences. Hotels will likely continue to ramp up their loyalty programs and rewards in an effort to draw guests to their sites.
6. Sustainable energy
Travelers are conscious of the impact their trips have on the earth, and hotels are responding with environmentally sustainable developments. Recently InterContinental Hotels Group announced the development of a property in Dubai that will be powered exclusively with solar energy. And Hyatt is contracting with sustainability management company Ecova to help manage energy for its headquarters and hotel properties. In the year ahead, other hotels will likely explore ways to conserve energy and to obtain energy from environmentally responsible sources.
7. Wellness programs
Wellness means more than just a gym, and the trend toward offering healthy activities shows no sign of slowing down. Hotels are encouraging in-room wellness; for example, JW Marriott has partnered with The Joffrey Ballet to provide on-demand exercise videos incorporating ballet techniques, and The Gates South Beach provides in-room meditation chairs. Expect hotels to introduce more creative wellness programs in the months ahead.