Happy 2017! Now that the holidays are well behind us, the resolutions have been made (and for some, they’re sticking!), it’s great to take some time and look ahead to the latest innovations in the hospitality industry. There are so many trends to watch for if you’re a newly hired graduate, or someone taking in a trip with your family. The ever-expanding world of hospitality continues to grow and amaze individuals.
Here are a few things you should look out for this year:
1. Mobile devices will be used as door key in hotels and resorts.
Have you heard about Magic Bands at Disney World? It’s fascinating that a function as simple as a door key could undergo so much evolution. But the tool that once started as a carefully shaped piece of metal quickly turned into electronic key cards, and is now set to shed its physical form altogether. The next evolution of the hotel key transforms into data on a guest’s mobile device. Some hotels have already started implementing this technology by visually scanning a code like many airports now do with plane tickets. For many individuals, this will be a welcome advancement because over the years, cell phones were to blame for deactivating those key cards in the first place!
2. Technology lounges will pop up everywhere.
Airline check-ins. Local information guides. A place where guests can get out of their rooms but still access Wi-Fi to relax or get work done. The argument for the marriage of technology and hospitality continues to grow every year, and savvy hospitality businesses are transforming these guest desires into stylish semi-public lounges where guests can remove themselves from the hustle and bustle to get work done. Many guests are even beginning to include these kinds of technologies in their online hotel search criteria, so hospitality businesses that lack them may eventually find themselves at a disadvantage.
3. Mergers and acquisitions will continue gain momentum.
In 2016, the hospitality industry saw a swarm of consolidation with Marriott International’s acquisition of Starwood Hotels & Resorts (the biggest merger to date!), Accor Hotels’ acquisition of Fairmont Brands, MakeMyTrip’s acquisition of Ibibo and the most recent Louvre Hotels Group’s acquisition of Sarovar Hotels. The consolidation and acquisitions will certainly continue this year. There are several international chains that are keen to expand into India and a few domestic brands are adding new properties, which will set the pace for more deals. If you’re looking to break into the hospitality industry this year, it’s an important piece of information that you will need when looking at large conglomerates and parent companies.
4. The need for more personalized experience will grow without paying the concierge-level fee.
As individuals spend their hard earned money, they are looking for a personalized concierge experience for their travel; both professionally and personally. Guests will expect a more concierge-level stay from the time they book their room until they check-out. Hotels and hospitality companies are training the staff to think outside the box and create more of a localized experience for a guest visiting a new town. Local venues provide a greater connection to what makes a town special and really enhances the experience during a guest’s stay. It’s a nice twist to an otherwise familiar world for the road warrior who often feels lost in the crowd.
5. The edible resort will blossom.
And finally, my personal favorite — it’s all about food in 2017!
Farm-to-table and ocean-to-plate experiences are now well established on the traveler's’ wish list throughout the world; local produce and indigenous eating experiences are expected and no longer hold a novelty factor. Working with local partners, resort management are harvesting and bringing the produce to the resort’s restaurants and farmers’ markets within the resort’s village hub. Then, the rest is given away to those in need in the greater community. At the Bellevue Hotel in Cikat, Croatia, the flat roofs of the hotel have been transformed into fragrant herb gardens and you can wake up, throw back the curtains and see kitchen staff picking herbs and salad stuffs for use in the restaurant; a much more personalized experience when guests can see where and when their food is picked.