As 2020 edges closer, have you reviewed your business’s longer-term strategy and how it aligns with shifts in the market and consumer sentiment?
Looking ahead to the future gives you an opportunity to prepare for major trends and stay ahead of competitors. Consider these trends and the new challenges and opportunities they could bring for your hospitality business.
Technology vendors in the hospitality industry are delivering higher levels of software sophistication. Along with this comes integration with third-party platforms. Seamless integration for hospitality businesses can mean different systems talking together, reduced manual inputs, and enhanced accuracy.
For example, certain catering software systems are designed to integrate with major accounting, payments, and email marketing platforms for a seamless experience for business operating in the catering industry.
Integration measures can also support enhancements on the customer experience side. Easier payments and more payment options with major payment systems, along with more efficient deliveries and logistics could be some of the integration outcomes.
In addition, all-in-one platforms might integrate everything from orders and payments to account management and customer relationship management. These could boost the customer experience as well as the business’s processes and operations.
Sustainability and going green
The value of sustainability seems to be impacting just about every industry, and the hospitality sector is no exception. Consumers appear to expect sustainability, and in response, businesses are reviewing the environmental impact of their processes and supply chain.
Automatically switching off lights, installing solar-power facilities, using sustainable materials like locally sourced toiletries, and reducing single-use plastics could be some of the outcomes.
For the catering industry, the trend towards sustainability could be reflected in efforts like ethically and locally sourced ingredients, reducing food waste, and developing a locally sourced supply chain. Technology can also play a part in sustainability. For example, tools like smart scales could support the reduction of food waste.
Millennials as a rising market
Millennials are a growing market or segment for the hospitality industry. Millennials tend to travel a lot and are early adopters of new technology. They typically enjoy personalized interactions and tend to act spontaneously.
As such, businesses in the hospitality sector could appeal to millennials with things like streamlined check-in, technology features, gourmet dining experiences at modest prices, and food pictures.
As millennials embrace technology and enjoy spontaneity and personalized experiences, offering novel perks like free wine tastings, curated lists of downloadable music, event management software for hospitality and digital concierges could help your business appeal to this target segment.
The customer experience
Potential guest and customer experience trends for 2020 include frictionless, personalized, and private experiences.
Integration of technology (as mentioned above), as well as new technology, could lead to more businesses leading the way for frictionless consumer experiences in 2020.
For example, at the end of the booking stage, businesses might have already collected a lot of data about guest preferences, thanks to business intelligence and AI tools.
This not only allows hospitality industry players to sell more, but also provides frictionless experiences using facial recognition, keyless smartphone app check-ins, smart rooms, digital concierge services, and other tools and features.
Guests can sync their devices to in-room services, for example, and be serviced by robot concierges. These can save time while providing a streamlined experience for consumers.
Consumers might be trending away from larger, busier accommodation options towards private-getaway-type experiences. These could include private chefs and private recreational spaces like pools.
Some hotels have already responded to this growing preference for privacy by including gated communities or private areas for accommodating some guests.
Personalized experiences are already gaining momentum as a trend in the industry. Hotels and other hospitality businesses are using data to deliver more personalized experiences.
Other examples include voice-activated customization of temperature and lighting, along with apps that offer personalized dining and entertainment recommendations for guests.
In addition, consumers might be seeking more social skills and local knowledge from staff. This could be local recommendations for travelers or other information that supports the customer in exploring and experiencing the local community.
Health and wellbeing
Increasingly, consumers seem to be seeking health and wellbeing benefits from their hospitality experiences, whether it’s through catering or accommodation, such as spa or gym facilities, or organic or cooling bedding.
Business and leisure travelers of all ages appear to value health, fitness, and wellbeing offerings. The catering market, too, is becoming more focused on health and wellbeing.
The growing popularity of health spas, saunas, fitness facilities, and healthy food options reflects this growing demand. Caterers, restaurants, and hotels could do well to provide novel options like yoga spaces, air purification, in-room gym equipment, and health-focused menus in the coming years.
Offering personalized or special-requirement diets could be another way to appeal to increasingly health-conscious consumers.
2020 will likely bring new challenges and opportunities for those in the hospitality industry. Anticipating some of the key trends could be a great way to get started on future-proofing your business and preparing for changes in customer preferences.
Luke Fitzpatrick covers fintech trends on Forbes. He is a guest lecturer at Sydney University, enjoys writing about tech and coding.