The last couple of years were all about getting back on track for the hospitality industry after the COVID-19 dark ages (2020-2021). But there’s still a long road ahead and we’re excited to be part of it. Let’s wrap up 2023 and take the highway towards 2024 and its biggest trends and challenges for the hospitality sector!
Smart rooms are here to stay
This is one of the trends that gained traction during COVID-19 and it’s probably here for the long run. Modern “smart” hotels make routines more convenient (and safer). But that’s not the reason why they’re the future of hospitality. When guests can adjust everything to their liking with ease, it creates a better customer experience.
One of the greatest trends within this wider trend is voice recognition, which almost deserves a spot on this list on its own. Although this technology is still in the early stages of development, voice control has great potential to deliver the ultimate customer experience. Guests will be able to make a restaurant reservation, change the room temperature, or ask for directions with a simple voice command.
RIP “staycations”, welcome back vacations
“Staycations” were all the rage in the last few years. Thankfully the trend is as done and dusted as Prison Break and vacations are officially back.
For instance, North Americans are open to international travel more than ever, with 62% of them searching for trips abroad, according to a study by Destination Analysts.
The hospitality and travel industries seem to be on a nice, upward trend that will be able to restore the health of the sectors and an all-around positivity is spreading through the professionals in these areas.
Sustainability as a major decision factor
COVID made people more aware of environmental issues and the role we all play in them. The energy crisis and gen-z now being old enough to travel on their own just reinforced what was already a trend: sustainability is more important than ever before in History.
The Global Destination Sustainability Movement Index is growing in importance, the next FITUR – arguably the largest Tourism event in Europe – will be focused on sustainability and surveys clearly show that sustainability is a concern for most travellers, although 43% of them say that they rarely or never manage to travel sustainably.
This means there’s still untapped potential for green and sustainable hotels. Here are 3 changes we dare you to make in 2024:
- Cut down on single-use plastics, including miniature shower gel and shampoo bottles. If you insist on using individual packages and not refillable bottles, look for plant-based bottles or recycled plastic.
- Source food from local farms and provide vegetarian options to decrease your carbon footprint.
- Install a vertical garden to offset emissions and bring nature to your hotel.
📝 You may also like: ESG, FOMO and FM: interweaving the acronyms without desperation
We need to talk about cybersecurity
When was the last time someone phoned your reception, asked if you had a room available, and booked a suite? And, even if that happened, where did their personal data and payment details go? These days, most guests book and pay for hotels online. Even travel agencies work online! Everything is stored somewhere on your computer.
Surprisingly – taking into consideration that hotels deal with quite sensitive data – cybersecurity hasn’t really been tackled in the hospitality industry. Now, lo and behold: according to PwC’s Hotel Outlook report (2018-2022), hospitality has the second-highest number of cybersecurity breaches — only behind the retail sector, if you’re curious.
Even big hotel chains, like Hilton and Marriot, have experienced extensive credit card data breaches. But better late than never! 2024 sounds like a good year to work on your hotel’s cybersecurity. Stop using legacy systems and implement software that’s regularly updated, has a strong firewall, and helps customers avoid phishing attacks.
It’s time for a smart system
We’re Infraspeak! Of course, we must discuss data and facility management. Sometimes “data” sounds like an abstract concept and you can’t grasp how it would actually change the way you work. But hotels can benefit tremendously from data to forecast trends and improve their guests’ experiences.
When you open your inbox, don’t you like to receive emails that are relevant to you? We’re sure you do. But the only reason we can guess you’re interested in hospitality trends is because we’ve previously collected that data about you. And before you say that’s disturbing – would you rather receive emails about the bathtub curve (totally unrelated to guests slipping and falling in the bathtub)?
Now, there’s no reason why you can’t offer the same personalised experience to your guests. Collecting data about what guests do or don’t do, order or don’t order, the services they use or don’t use, can help you understand which experiences they value the most, or what they may like or dislike in the future, and what kind of offers may tempt them to book again.
Taking it to our expertise – maintenance – you can gather data about HVAC equipment to understand what’s the room temperature your guests prefer, and how long the equipment must be running before they arrive. That’s a specific example of how data can help you provide a better experience and cut costs at the same time.
It’s all about the experience
“It’s not about the end, it’s the journey”. Well, it’s not about the destination, it’s the experience. Experiential holidays are one of the biggest trends in tourism, and many people are choosing “experiences” and “retreats”, often supporting local businesses, over mass tourism. Previously, only luxury hotels used to cater to the “experience niche”, presenting themselves as an experience on their own.
But “experiences” have since been democratised by dozens of platforms that connect travellers with locals, like withlocals.com, showaround.com or even AirBnB experiences. Online experiences, launched during the pandemic, were AirBnB’s fastest-growing product to date. Experiences bookings themselves increased nearly 7 times from 2017 and 2018.
A recent survey by Skift, AirBnB reminds us, said that “69% of respondents would rather spend more money on better activities than in a nicer hotel room (31%)”. Almost the same percentage said they “want to come back having experienced something new” (65%) and only 35% said they wanted to come back “feeling rested and recharged”.
If your hotel is too focused on location, it may be a challenge to adjust to these experience-seeking guests. But it’s not too late to join the bandwagon, and you can partner with local guides and other local businesses to help them discover, enjoy, and experience their destination to the fullest. Help them build the memories they’ll treasure for life!
Even for conferences and meetings, you should be able to offer innovative tools to impress your clients and make those corporate experiences memorable with the right event management software.
Upskilling is the new hiring
The current labor shortage crisis, caused by a combination of factors including an aging population, the popularity of remote work due to COVID-19, and the trend of quiet quitting, is costing all sorts of companies money in increased wages and salaries, as well as supply chain disruptions. To avoid overpaying and ensure a good fit with new hires, many companies, including the ones in the Hospitality sector, are choosing to upskill or reskill their current teams.
This not only helps employees feel valued and increases their value to the company, but also improves productivity and well-being within the business. Training current staff can be a cost-effective way to address the labor shortage and meet the evolving needs of your business.
Embrace Maintenance 5.0
Maintenance is one of the most challenging tasks in hospitality. Several teams and assets to deal with, whilst maintaining customer satisfaction rates up and having all those sweet reviews of your business.
Infraspeak’s Housekeeper App allows you to stay informed about everything that is happening in one simple, yet powerful dashboard. The status of each asset, the schedules of the maintenance teams, SLAs compliance status, you name it.