It seems that we had just rung in the New Year a few days ago yet, we’re already finishing out the month of February in 2018! If you haven’t already taken a tropical vacation into the warm weather to escape the frigid Philadelphia chills this winter then you are most likely planning your next trip in the near future. Below we’ll discuss some of the hottest hotel and travel trends you can expect to find this year as you discover new and exciting places.
Location, Location, Location
The travel and the hotel industries are changing to keep up with what consumers want. With new competition like Airbnb, hotels need to be able to offer more of what travelers are looking for or risk losing business. One trend that is continuing to grow is an emphasis on local experiences. With the growing popularity of Airbnb’s “Experiences” option when planning a trip more booking services are trying to add similar options to their platforms. Even hotel chains such as the Marriott may add their version of “experiences” soon offering guests the option to find various activities they can partake in.
Various hotels are upping their game when it comes to “showcasing local” rather than keeping a cookie cutter look to their buildings.While many have witnessed and possibly enjoyed the trend of eating local foods, this trend seems to be branching further out to apply to artisans and retailers. Many today, especially millennials who are a driving force in the shaping of the hospitality industry, are prioritizing social responsibility and sustainability. Therefore, travelers may base their choice of accommodations on the feel of the hotel and whether or not they can experience what the local area has to offer rather than just take advantage of the amenities the hotel offers.
Look for several hotels to add small touches to the decor which could feature local artisans and a change from the mass-produced look of a building to the more regionally appropriate decor. Restaurants and food are extremely important as well. Local meat and produce take a high priority as the farm to table trend continues to grow in popularity.
With today’s advancements in technology, hotels are expected to offer high-tech and convenient amenities to their guests. Expect to see rooms becoming smarter as all the major hotel chains test out different versions of technological advancements to fulfill the wishes and desires of all their guests. The Hilton Honors app is working to provide users with the ability to control their TV, lights, and temperature from their phones while many other hotel chains have their rooms equipped with Amazon Alexa to give the guests voice-activated control of many room settings.
Offering mobile keys and online check-ins will become a more common practice in major hotels as more and more chains become tech-savvy. WiFi coverage should be expanded in hotels to meet the ever-growing demand placed on networks and to ensure each guest can access the internet at any time. WiFi access is one of the biggest expectations that guests have when checking into a hotel. Expect to see more use of Artificial Intelligence by companies in the hospitality industry as well. Marketing companies now have an abundance of technology at their fingertips to better assist their customers. There are chatbots that are more affordable and very effective at assisting customers, especially when many people want to avoid speaking on the phone. These bots can also quickly and easily integrate all the information received to a hotel, giving enormous amounts of usable data to the hotel to help manage a reservation.
Mobile apps have changed the way people around the world function and traveling is no different. Google has a travel assistant app call Trips which used AI to assist in booking reservations, flights, taxis and can even help create an itinerary of things the user might enjoy doing all based on historical data. According to Google, the app will soon be able to make even more predictive suggestions as the company further develops the technology.
With the improvement of technology and the current climate of our world, it is almost a guarantee that security improvement will be a top priority for anyone in the hospitality industry. Many companies are going to be investing in data privacy to ensure that guests payments and personal information is secure, which can be increasingly difficult as mobile and social technology continues to grow and encompass every avenue of our lives. IT budgets will most likely increase in most major hotels and more extensive measures may be taken to deter sophisticated hackers from accessing data.
Along with the improved security and upgraded technology, many hotels are working to make staff and manage more accessible to their guests. Mobile apps may assist in this with allowing guests to order things directly to their room while texting features could be available to speak directly with a manager when an issue is more urgent. Logging into things using usernames and passwords will likely be eliminated in exchange for a more simple single touch system where devices are recognized and remembered when a guest returns.
Sharing Is Caring
Millennials will continue to influence the industry, especially when it comes to design. We expect that the local element will be taking center stage and incorporated into many hotels but space will also be affected. Baby Boomer travelers tended to prefer checking into their rooms and working alone while ordering room service. Millennials, however, gravitate towards social interaction. Shared spaces are popping up and becoming far more mainstream and many hotel rooms are shrinking in size to accommodate the desires of much of the younger generation.
Everything Comes At A Price
All of the new upgrades and personalization in the hospitality industry are great but they come at a price. In many urban areas, additional fees are being applied to hotel bills that are intended to cover things such as WiFi, parking, and additional amenities. These fees, in fact, are quite commonplace in places such as New York City, Chicago, and Los Angeles and are expected to branch out even further as upgrades continue to take place. Many are comparing these fees to resort fees yet they are popping up in areas where you are not likely to find any resorts.
In addition to added fees, many hotels may soon be changing their cancellation policies. In general, most major hotel brands would give a guest 24 hours to cancel or change a reservation without penalty. Major companies are rethinking this policy and may be giving guests less wiggle room to change their plans, at least without paying for it. The new timeframe may change to 48 hours or even 72 hours prior to a reservation to change or cancel plans and some fees may apply. In order to save money and stress, be sure to read and be acquainted with your hotel’s cancellation policy in advance. With all of the new apps available, you should be able to easily compare hotel options with a simple touch to your phone so you can decide not only if the price will work for you but the cancellation policy as well.
Beware that hotels are changing how they work to obtain and retain customers. A big focus will be on loyalty to a chain rather than booking by comparing prices. Some travel booking sites, such as Expedia, will do away with price match guarantees as hotel chains work to gain direct bookings by offering more loyalty rates. Be sure to do your research to get the best price and experience when you travel.