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07 May 2024

Top 10 Trends in the Hospitality Industry in 2024

Top 10 Trends in the Hospitality Industry in 2024

What are the latest trends in the hospitality industry? As a testament to its resilience, agility and innovative spirit, this article reflects today’s increasingly dynamic hospitality industry in terms of its long, medium and short-term evolution. Discover the industry's adaptability and forward-thinking approach, shaping its trajectory in the face of challenges and opportunities, while staying attuned to the latest hospitality trends. 

Best-selling author, Will Guidara, claims “We are entering into a hospitality economy” – suggesting that what underpins the essence of hospitality, (service excellence, human interaction, personalization and the co-creation of memorable experiences), is actually what many sectors of industry are desperately in need of today.

As we charge at break neck speed towards an ever-more digitalized society, the hospitality industry stands out as the successful hybrid that balances the implementation of tech innovation for improved operations whilst preserving the human need for connection, authenticity and real-life discovery.

With statistics predicting a healthy expansion of the sector (e.g., the bleisure and wellness markets on the up, room demand set to reach an all-time high, booking.com as the most valuable tourism brand in the world, and new positions opening up in the sector), we can confirm that the hospitality industry is poised for a significant transformation in 2024.

So what new trends are emerging? Driven by interlinked factors, including technological progress, evolving consumer preferences and a deeper focus on sustainability, hospitality businesses can capitalise on emerging opportunities to enhance guest experiences and position themselves for long-term success.

10 hospitality trends 2024 - Elevate experiences, embrace evolution 1. Workforce empowerment: Transforming challenges into opportunities

Over the past two years, the industry's biggest challenge has not been attracting customers but rather finding and retaining staff. To address this issue, many hotel groups have begun to make improvements, and there has never been a better time for newcomers to the industry to negotiate better working conditions and salaries.

Today, many hotels offer their staff free or low-cost accommodation, increased wages and reduced peak-time working hours. They also invest in training programs to motivate staff and allow mobility up the corporate ladder. Empowered employees not only have a positive impact on how guests feel and their decision to become repeat guests, but also help attract other employees to build a cohesive, high-quality workforce.

2. Artificial intelligence and technology: Choosing the best tech to revolutionize hospitality

As Chat GPT celebrates its first birthday, we can only surrender to the fact that, like it or not, we have entered into an AI-accelerated world, and consequently, the pace at which the industry adapts has become a pressing issue. But which forms of AI best harness hospitality stakeholder outcomes?

Contactless services: Effortless technology, impeccable stay

Embracing contactless technologies is about redefining the hospitality experience to cater to modern travelers, not just adapting to the pandemic-driven shift toward touchless interactions. Contactless services simplify the guest journey by reducing wait times and physical contact points. Mobile check-in, digital keys and voice or tablet-controlled room automation allow guests to move seamlessly through the hospitality experience. The citizenM hotel brand has pioneered this minimum-fuss check-in and room experience with a hugely successful UX-friendly app.

Other popular tools such as WhatsApp allow hotel staff to remain in constant contact with customers during their stay, respond immediately to requests and thus provide bespoke services. It also streamlines operations by reducing the need for face-to-face interactions and human error, improving service delivery and lowering the burden on a scarce workforce. In line with contactless services, hospitality companies need to prioritise data privacy and security, putting solid safeguards in place to protect guest information against cyber threats.

Technology-driven innovation: Beyond boundaries

At the heart of technology innovation is the ability for managers and employees to centralize information at all times. Migrating to a fully cloud-based solution is a first but essential step. This enables real-time sharing, better service orientation and personalisation of the guest experience, improving all hotel departments.

Robotic systems (as used in the Henn-na Hotels in Japan) optimise processes and increase efficiency in back-of-house operations such as housekeeping or F&B outlets, reducing staffing requirements and allowing managers to respond to problems in real-time and with accountability.

The use of augmented reality helps with staff onboarding, allowing new employees to be put in real-life situations and trained before even entering a room. Pedagogically speaking, as practiced at EHL in the Virtual Housekeeping class, AR provides a more interactive and complete learning environment. Augmented reality also allows hotels and airlines to market themselves in an ad hoc style - an innovative and sustainable approach. Potential customers can better immerse themselves in the facilities and make more informed decisions.

Hyper-personalization: Tailored moments, lasting loyalty

In a world of commoditised practices, guests are increasingly looking for personalized experiences that cater to individual preferences and aspirations. In the hospitality industry, hyper-personalisation means relying on technology-based micro-segmentation to tailor each guest interaction to real-time needs and behaviours. For example, eliminating 'deadlines' such as check-in/check-out/F&B closing times, knowing whether a customer wants to be accompanied through check-in or do it contactless, personalizing room temperature, lighting and amenities or tailoring F&B options promptly and accurately. At Fauchon l'Hotel in Paris clients suggest the menu and define their portion sizes. From a hotel perspective, this enables better dynamic pricing strategies, higher guest-spent for experiences, or tailored loyalty programmes with commercial partners.

3. Culinary experiences: Putting experiences, authenticity and the senses first

The desire to experience rather than simply consume means that experiential dining has today evolved in new ways. Hotels are now required to offer a range of dining options to cater to different customer tastes and, when correctly done, can become a culinary destination where the restaurant is at the heart of the experience and not just an extension of the hotel. A good example is the Grand Resort Bad Ragaz in Switzerland which boasts seven restaurants, three bars, a bistro, a café and a sushi takeaway, (plus an array of Michelin stars and GaultMillau points), unsurprisingly making it a mecca for traveling gourmets.

Experiential design can also allow customers to taste food in a multi-sensory environment that stimulates all the senses, not just the taste buds (e.g., Ultraviolet by Paul Pairet in Shanghai). Some hotels have started to provide experiences even on a smaller and more dynamic scale. E.g., They offer four-hand dinners (an invited chef cooks with the in-house chef), organise kitchen parties (clients eat in the kitchen), or have a front-cooking area. Specialist cooking classes can complement this. The key here is to offer a unique experience like how to make your own gin, cook local food, or bake bread with the experts.

Another trend relates to children. A menu of unimaginative, standard food à la burger and chips is no longer enough; parents want their children to eat healthier, globally-inspired food with high-quality ingredients. Adding world food or plant-based products and packaging them in innovative ways will make for happy families likely to return.

A final significant trend in the food sector is off-premise dining and digitalisation. Although customers have returned to eating in restaurants since the pandemic, a large proportion mix on- and off-premise dining. Restaurants need to cater to this clientele to increase revenues, as takeaways are no longer limited to fast food but also exist for traditional and even fine dining. This means that restaurants need to reorganise their workflows and operations to cater to in-house diners and delivery, alongside designing appropriate, creative, high-quality packaging and optimising delivery or collection methods to be easy and inexpensive without competing with traditional delivery platforms.

This can also include ghost kitchens focusing only on food production for delivery and takeaway. Post-Covid, ghost kitchens have become an increasingly popular trend in the restaurant industry with statistics showing that they are projected to be a $157 billion market by 2030. As of 2021, there are over 100,000 ghost kitchens operating worldwide.

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