What are the most current hospitality industry trends? It goes without saying that the COVID-19 outbreak and subsequent protection steps have had a significant effect on hospitality in 2020 and has undoubtedly continued to do so in 2021 and beyond.
Some responses to this extraordinary situation have intensified current hospitality industry trends and sparked lasting change, such as attempting to entice patrons back into food and beverage outlets.
Meanwhile, cultural evolution has set new benchmarks for hospitality companies, owing in part to shifted principles in the aftermath of the pandemic’s most acute period and in part to increased customer understanding of all things sustainable and purposeful.
Here are the top ten hospitality industry trends range from required COVID-19 adaptations to accommodating changing customer preferences.
1. Eliminating physical contact
In 2021, the movement towards digital and contactless services has gained new traction. Owing to the increased use of technology-assisted solutions such as mobile check-in’s, contactless payments, voice control, and biometrics, conventional customer-facing services are being revamped.
According to experts, consumers who have grown accustomed to using facial and fingerprint recognition to unlock their smartphones and laptops will soon demand the same comfort in their hotel rooms, for example.
Recent travel restrictions have encouraged the growth of staycations, in stark contrast to previous years booming global tourism trend. Some holidaymakers may be opting to stay closer to home, not only due to restrictions but also for environmental or financial reasons.
3. A unique approach to delivery
With widespread lockdown and rearranged work and childcare schedules, delivery services have taken on new significance this year. Consumers are no longer happy with ordering the same old pizza, Chinese, or Indian takeout. They want to try something different. They don’t want to give up the luxuries of experiencing various venues or fine dining, so they’re trying to recreate the experience at home. Food and beverage establishments allow this by integrating drink deliveries and introducing extras such as mood lighting, QR-code playlists, and unexpected freebies.
4. Technology and automation
This comprehensive, overarching category encompasses technological advancements such as those that have reduced wait times, “outsourced” menial tasks to robots and used big data to improve processes, among other things. AI-powered chatbots have proven to be a valuable customer service asset, both during the booking process and in responding to frequently asked questions about COVID-19 security measures.
The use of management systems to track and maximise sales, customer relationships, networks, and credibility is increasingly shaping operations in general. Even hiring staff via video interviewing has taken off as employers can see potential new team members instead of reading a traditional resume. Solutions that are mobile, cloud-based, and optimised are in high demand.
Guests today have come to expect to be acknowledged and viewed as individuals. Although tools like Mailchimp and Zoho have made customised email marketing available to the masses, ensuring highly targeted audience-specific messages, establishments are going the extra mile to greet their guests personally. Data gives insight into past buying patterns, helping venues customise deals and promotions and automatically deliver similar amenities to previous visits, well beyond simply adding the customer’s name to email greetings.
6. Instagrammable designs
Hospitality businesses are stepping up their game after long recognising patrons’ tendency to take photos and videos, specifically to share on social media. Owners are paying more attention to photogenic table settings and furniture backdrops to capitalise on this free publicity. Meals, drinks or even decor can serve as irresistibly beautiful images or concepts for videos that entice patrons to be share online.
7. Augmented and virtual reality
Following the trend towards visually appealing content, it seems only logical that businesses in the hospitality industry will attempt to capitalise on features like virtual tours, which enable customers to imagine themselves in a digital world. Videos of restaurant ambience, nice little café terraces surrounded by greenery, or beachfront hotel locations, for example, are just the ticket to make a company stand out this year. As is always the case, keeping the entry barrier low is crucial to reaching as large an audience as possible for virtual reality content: allowing content to be viewed on several devices without using a virtual reality headset.
While on-site, visitors should be able to use their trusty sidekick – their mobile – to summon additional details by simply pointing it at real-world artefacts. Augmented reality enhances in-person experiences with graphical or informational overlays. Guests can use the app to access restaurant opening times, ratings, interactive tourist information charts, and even create user-generated content once they have downloaded the app.
8. Essentialism and purposeful interactions
Who would have thought it, but there is now such a thing as travel shame. Minimalism has breathed new life into the tired adage “less is more.” Niche cafes, adventurous destinations, and environmentally conscious venues are in high demand, as are immersive experiences that give back to local communities in meaningful ways.
9. Going at it alone
Many people have accepted the meditative aspect of spending time alone and venturing out into the big wide world unafraid, engaging and making friends to whatever degree suits them in the age of mindfulness. Barriers between staff and patrons are being reduced, interior design choices made to elicit a cosy feeling, and an informal environment being fostered to make solo patrons feel at ease.
10. Long-Term Sustainability
Finally, a new hospitality theme has become a staple of recent years: “sustainability” has reclaimed the top spot. More far-reaching ethical and environmental concerns influence decisions taken at the hospitality management level as a natural extension of avoiding disposable plastics, eliminating excessive paper use thanks to opt-in receipts, and reducing food waste.
What was undeniably a daunting situation for many sectors in 2020 seems to have yielded benefits that will be felt for years to come. The year 2021 has already shown the same and, if not, more innovative spirit.
Posted at 7:30am on Thursday the 17th of March, 2021.
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