How the Hospitality Industry is (going to have to) Adjusting to Consumer Demand
It’s no secret that with more people traveling than ever, the hospitality industry is quickly evolving. To keep up with customer expectations, independent and boutique hotels are expected to go above and beyond in their interactions with guests, the quality of their spaces, and their unique offerings. Gone are the days of hotels being just a place to rest your head. Hotels are quickly evolving to feel more like a home away from home, fully equipped with personalized amenities to make guests feel like more than just their confirmation number. Outlined below are some of the approaches boutique hotels are starting to take to elevate their guest experience to the next level and keep up with the consumer’s evolving needs.
1. Experiential Marketing
By offering experiential marketing activities, boutique and independent hotels are creating a hotel stay that doubles as a memorable experience. Today’s target clientele (hello, millennials) largely place more value on experiences rather than things. Hotels are creating an immersive experience by offering an “all in one” package that transforms the traditional hotel stay to a unique and authentic experience that guests will remember. Experiential marketing can look like anything from adventure tours and excursions, to live music, to pop up events featuring local vendors. Whatever shape or form it comes in, experiential marketing is at the forefront of today’s hospitality trends.
2. Sustainable Travel
With today’s consumers being more eco-conscious than ever, sustainable travel is rapidly developing from a trend into a global priority. The implementation of an eco-friendly approach is presenting itself in a myriad of ways. It’s becoming standard to see hotels taking a paperless approach, offering food grown onsite, eliminating single-use plastic, minimizing water usage and energy, and the integrating the “three-zero-concept”, an architectural strategy which uses local construction materials and skills, prioritizes energy management and lowers emissions.
3. Local Art
Hotels are getting more location-specific with their properties, with each location visually and thoughtfully reflecting its place in the world. The curation of local art, whether in the form of installations, murals, or a visual narrative is undoubtedly a rising trend. Hotel spaces are serving as seamless extensions of its destination, many of them leaning into this trend completely and doubling as a museum. This seemingly subtle trend is effective as it not only enhances the ambiance feel of the space, but also helps hotels to stand out amongst competition as they lend themselves to this form of experiential marketing.
4. Micro-Moments Matter
It really is the little things, especially when it comes to boutique hospitality. Every touchpoint from the moment a guest considers booking a stay to after they check out are significant and should be handled in an effective and personalized manner. It’s all about anticipating a guests needs, and knowing what they want before they realize it. There are many ways for hotels to stand out in this department. Offering helpful information regarding check-in and hotel details days prior to a guest’s stay is important, but expected. To exceed expectations and assist guests in a more personal way, hotels might include a guide to the area with genuine recommendations, offer airport transportation and the connection to a local host. Upon check-in, guests should promptly be given the wifi password and made aware of any pertinent information regarding their stay. Onsite staff should be ready to use customer’s names when assisting them. Guests should be engaged every step of the way, and post-checkout is no exception. Engagement following their departure should be gracious and delivered promptly. More hotels are adopting a 1-tap guest survey where guests can quickly leave feedback in a single tap embedded into the body of the check-out email.
5. Health and Wellness
The wellness industry is another rapidly growing space to watch, especially as it goes hand in hand with travel and hospitality. Hotels are beginning to incorporate health-based approaches and amenities. The ways in which hotels are integrating wellness into their spaces vary from innovative technology, such as on-site gyms are being replaced with on-demand fitness, where guests can work out in the comfort of their own rooms to more traditional amenities like on-site yoga and meditation classes. Additionally, hotel menus are evolving to offer healthy whole foods and juices. Many places are starting to adopt – or upgrade their luxury amenities such as outdoor fire pits and steam rooms.
6. Social Media
Social Media undoubtedly plays an essential role for brands these days, and the hospitality industry is no exception. With 97% of Millenials posting their travels to social media, it’s become an extremely effective marketing tool. Instagram, in particular, is at the forefront of hotel marketing with its over 1 billion monthly active users and 500 million daily active users. It allows them to create a perfectly curated portfolio of their spaces and guest moments to visually communicate the unique experience of staying there. Additionally, with Instagram stories and IGTV, hotels are able to better communicate their personality and connect with today’s modern traveler.
With social media comes influencer marketing. Luxury hotels are working with travel influencers to showcase the most attractive attributes of their properties on their blogs and user-generated content. Word of mouth marketing via influencers on social media has surpassed the traditional self-promotion approach hotels were previously taking.
7. Mobile Apps and Digital Trends
The digital revolution has, unsurprisingly, majorly impacted the hospitality world. With guests being ever-connected, hotels have the opportunity to optimize efficiency for both staff and guests. Mobile integration and hotel apps are becoming increasingly more popular, as they allow guests to easily check their details, instantly connect with hotel staff, and create a smoother reservation. The implementation of mobile apps is taken a step further by adopting push notifications with information about the guest’s stay, and real-time in-app messaging. Options like early check-in, access to special offers, room service, requests for dining or spa services, and check out all make for a streamlined experience for both parties.
Hospitality is one of today’s fastest evolving industries. The expectations of guests are constantly shifting and growing, making it imperative that hotels stay one step ahead of trends. While the implementation of the trends listed above may seem daunting, breaking them down to realize it’s all about the customer’s experience might make them simpler to integrate. Have you noticed any other rising trends within the industry? We’d love to hear about them!