To say 2021 was a rough year for the hospitality industry is an understatement. The hospitality industry was hard-hit by COVID-19 and, in all likelihood, it will take a few years until international travel reaches pre-pandemic levels. But 2022 gets us on the road to recovery! In our classic end of the year round-up, we’ve compiled the biggest trends and challenges for hospitality in 2022.
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.
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! 2022 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 predictive 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.
“Staycations” continue to boom
Between lockdown and leaving the EU, many Brits opted for a “staycation” in 2021. Hoteliers around the world were hoping the situation would reverse in 2022, but staycations are here to, erm, stay. According to Travel Weekly, 83% of Brits who took a staycation in 2021 plan to do so in 2022 as well. In fact, 24% are already thinking ahead and planning their next trip. There are already “thousands of reservations” for 2022, especially for Cornwall, Devon, and Norfolk.
It’s fair to say some factors that may motivate Britons to book staycations – Travel Week mentions “holiday nostalgia”, “less stress than going abroad” along with a desire to “support local communities”, for example – will not resonate internationally. However, travellers are more cautious worldwide and still value free cancellation options. Another study by Booking.com reveals travellers think about which countries are safe to travel to months in advance and take into consideration the destination’s COVID-19 requirements.
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.
Sustainability is an ongoing challenge, and that’s why we keep coming back to it year after year. The demand for eco-friendly products and services is growing, and your guests are no exception. Booking’s 2019 Sustainable Travel Report already pointed out that 55% of global travellers are determined to choose sustainable accommodation, although some were deterred by the “lack of appealing options”.
This means there’s still untapped potential for green and sustainable hotels. Here are 3 changes we dare you to make in 2022:
- 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.