Top 10 hospitality trends for 2017
Each year, hotels have to adapt to guests’ evolving desires and expectations for their visits. Most industry trends point to an emphasis on personalization and authenticity in 2017.
1. Unique experiences
Guests are eager to discover unique destinations and experiences and are less interested in predictable, generic vacations. A unique experience could mean viewing natural wonders that are threatened by ecological change or attending a workshop with local artists.
2. Local food
Guests increasingly look for food that reflects a hotel’s local environment, and hotels are forging relationships with local farmers, vintners, and distillers. Some hotels are offering guests cooking or mixology classes or tours of vineyards.
3. Artificial intelligence
Hotels are using artificial intelligence, robots, and chatbots to automate some concierge services and other functions. Guests are used to interacting with technology and appreciate the convenience of automated service, and the artificial intelligence allows hotels to gather valuable data on guests’ preferences.
4. Continuing high occupancy
Thriving business has some in the hotel industry wondering how long the good times will continue. Skift reports that CBRE Hotels and Fitch Ratings both project that conditions in the industry will be similar in 2017. CBRE expects a very slight decline in occupancy of just 0.1 percent, and it predicts an increase in the average daily rate of 3.3 percent.
5. More competition from the sharing economy
Tammy Farley, President and Co-Founder of the Rainmaker Group, predicts that hotels that were previously unaffected by alternative accommodations like Airbnb will have to start paying attention to this form of competition in 2017 (Hospitality Net). Hotels can win consumers away from alternative competition with strategic pricing and personalized service.
6. Lifestyle brands
Brands that associate themselves with a desirable lifestyle have an advantage in attracting millennials, who are less likely to prefer uniformity than older generations. Lifestyle brands differentiate themselves by creating a sense of community or shared identity among guests.
7. Pet-friendly accommodations
Many guests now expect to be able to bring their pets with them when they travel, and hotels are welcoming them with perks like toys, water bowls, and beds. Pets are usually subject to a few restrictions, like weight limits, and additional fees.
8. Hotel openings in Cuba
Since the U.S. relaxed its restrictions on travel to Cuba in December 2014, tourism there has taken off. The number of visitors to Cuba in 2015 was 17 percent higher than in 2014, and many new hotels are in development. The Cuban government offered foreign investors 59 opportunities to contract with Cuban companies to build and manage hotels in 2015; this was up from 33 the previous year, according to Skift.
9. Feedback from social media
Hotels are no longer relying on comment cards and are instead asking guests to share their opinions online. Examples of crowdsourcing campaigns include Fairmont Moments, through which Fairmont guests share their stories; Travel Brilliantly, which invites Marriott guests to submit ideas for improvement; and It’s Good Not to Be Home, a Hyatt Regency campaign focused on business travel.
10. Rewards for loyalty
Hotels are trying to draw consumers away from online travel agencies, which charge commissions, and to get them to book reservations directly with the hotel. Discounts for members range from 2 to 10 percent off usual rates, and some hotels match the lowest rates consumers find on other websites. Members may also be eligible for extra benefits like free Wi-Fi in their rooms.