What can you expect next time you check in? Read on for 11 expert-forecasted trends.
1. More direct booking for hotel rooms
Online travel agencies (OTAs), such as Expedia, Priceline, and Orbitz, might offer consumers a lower price when acting as the middleman for lodging reservations, but skimpy customer service and hefty cancellation fees can be a real hassle. Hotels are putting more effort and resources into trying to get customers back via direct marketing, customer loyalty rewards programs, member rates, and other desirable perks for travelers who book through hotel websites.
2. More private lodging options
Along with fighting to take back their business from online travel agents and booking sites, hotels have to contend with “home-sharing” sites like VRBO and Airbnb. In order to compete, hotels will continue to add alternative lodging options to their variety of accommodations for guests seeking more privacy.
“Some hotels are getting around this by creating private spaces or gated communities adjacent to their own business to accommodate this ever-increasing need from guests, whilst they still have access to all the amenities of the hotel right at their fingertips,” reports Hotel News Resource.
3. More reliance on travel agents
Luxury travelers are looking to have their vacations tailored exclusively to them. As Ricardo Orozco, VP of Operations at Solmar Hotels & Resorts, predicts that in 2019, “luxury travelers will rely more on travel agents; this is a trend that we’re already experiencing,” notes Travel Market Report.
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4. Better technology
Tech-savvy guests expect rooms to have reliable and lightning-fast high-speed internet, which can be costly for hotels. Additionally, some hotels are equipping guest rooms with tablets, voice assistants, motorized curtains, automatic lighting, and noise-canceling functions.
Even the beds are getting smarter to provide guests with the most comfortable sleep experience possible. As bed designs continue to evolve, they will automatically adjust to known guest preferences simply by recognizing the guest via smart device.
Facial recognition systems integrated into guest contact positions can allow every staff member to greet guests by name and see relevant information about that guest. This lets the staff member maximize the personalization of encounters. "Think 'Google contacts' that can display all of this information instantly for each guest in the system database," suggests Rex Warren, PhD, professor in the College of Hospitality at Johnson & Wales.
5. A focus on sustainability
As consumers become increasingly aware of reducing their own carbon footprint and living as green of a lifestyle as possible, this will be reflected in their lodging choices. Hotels are implementing initiatives that help their properties be as carbon-neutral as possible, whether that’s eighty-sixing the use of plastic straws in the bar or having lights switch off automatically when guests leave rooms.
Hotel News Resource reports, “eco-friendly practices are becoming the norm in the hospitality industry. People now expect it. Accommodation providers are now starting to consider the environmental impact of everything they use.”
6. Increased emphasis on guests’ health and well-being
Hotel News Resource reports that the wellness tourism industry is currently estimated at $563 billion. Travelers are increasingly expecting more from their accommodation than just a comfy bed. Many vacationers seek out resorts and hotel properties that cater to wellness experiences by providing:
- World-class health spas
- State-of-the-art fitness centers
- Yoga retreats
- Private saunas
- Vitamin-based shower water
- Air purification systems
- Healthy food and drink options
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7. Scaled up eco-tourism
Eco-friendly travelers seek out vacations that are dedicated to giving back to the environment just as much – if not more – than they take, according to Sustainable Travel International as cited by U.S. News. In stark contrast to commercial mass tourism, low-impact eco-tourists visit relatively undisturbed natural areas to reunite with nature and experience the fragile, pristine beauty.
8. Expanded “voluntourism”
Traveling in order to volunteer your time is a trend that continues to thrive. Many tourists seek out voluntourism opportunities that let them step into helping roles in local communities abroad, such as teaching children, building houses, or providing medical or dental care. Working with wildlife, environmental conservation efforts, and microfinance are also popular ways to engage in impact travel.
9. Continued focus on millennial influence
The disruptive millennial generation is having a number of effects on the hospitality industry. Their love for the sharing economy is contributing to the constantly rising popularity of the HomeAway, VRBO, Craigslist, and Airbnb vacation rental market.
Because millennials would rather spend their money on experiences than objects, investing in adventure travel and unique, immersive cultural experiences is a high priority for them. Forbes notes that this thirst for thrill-seeking adventures and extreme vacations has made activities such as heli-skiing, canyon-jumping, white-water rafting, and rock climbing more popular than ever.
10. More truly all-inclusive resort properties
Travel Market Report forecasts the ongoing rise in popularity of all-inclusive properties. “Hyatt’s foray into the all-inclusive market was followed this month by Hilton, and Hard Rock Hotels of Mexico and the Dominican Republic have ‘ditched resort credit to bring guests a vacation experience that is truly all-inclusive,’ including deeply discounted experiences like golf, spa treatments, tours, and excursions.”
Many of these resorts are focusing on the couples’ market with plentiful adults-only sections (including separate pools, restaurants, beaches) within one property or going the route of totally adults-only properties. Mario Cruz, concept manager for Original Group, told Travel Market Report: “Just as 2018 was the year of multigenerational travel, 2019 will be about couples and adults. More hotels are catering to adults in kid-free environments.”
11. More catering to foodies
As was the case in 2018, travelers this year will continue to base their destination decisions — at least partially — on the types of food and beverage options that are available. According to the Journal of Travel & Tourism Marketing, tourists consider food experiences just as much as they consider climate, accommodation, and scenery when traveling. Food tourism, a.k.a. culinary tourism, locations are limitless. Some of the most popular currently include food trucks, street vendors, farm-to-table restaurants, vineyards, and wineries.
Dawn Gillis, World Travel Holdings product manager, told Travel Market Report: “There’s a big focus on dining options/restaurant variety, food quality and diversity, cooking classes and demonstrations, foodie events, and fresh organic produce from on-site gardens and greenhouses.”
Wondering what a hospitality degree might do for you? Learn more about how you can leverage your passion for travel, tourism, sustainability, or hospitality into an undergraduate or graduate degree and a new career. Johnson & Wales University College of Online Education offers an exciting array of hospitality degree programs. Please complete the “Request Info” form on this page, call 855-JWU-1881, or email: [email protected].