While 2020 wasn’t the year we had all hoped for, it certainly was the year that sparked the most growth and change.
At least one good thing to come out of it was the surge in domestic tourism, with the hotel industry in Dubai experiencing a 107% increase in the number of room nights sold to domestic visitors compared to 2019 (Arabian Business, 2020).
The hospitality industry is undergoing somewhat of a revolution and customers are increasingly mindful and conscious when choosing where to spend their money.
So what exactly will it take to attract these new age customers?
We’ve done our research and summarized the top 3 key trends in 2021 that the hospitality industry should be aware of.
1 - Technology and Integration
Now more than ever, hospitality professionals are forced to offer services that require minimal to no physical contact.
This includes payment, menu card offerings, reservations and check ins. Innovative and technological solutions is now defined as the norm in the industry and professionals must retrofit existing solutions to contactless methods to attract conscious consumers (Revfine, 2020).
Restaurants and hotels should fully transition into contactless payments at all transaction points. With 383 million existing global Apple Pay users, establishments should offer payment options that facilitate digital wallets (Statista, 2018). This also reduces the time involved in collecting payment and increases checkout or transaction efficiency.
Voice Search & Control
Voice search is increasingly being integrated onto user smartphones and company websites should reflect on this emerging trend ensuring that details are being captured when engaged in user voice searches on prominent search engines. Voice controlled devices such as Alexa are also emerging as room amenity essentials to control Air Ventilation and lighting, in turn reducing the frequency of physical touch.
These interactive bots should be integrated as the first point of contact for users when human agents are unavailable. This interactive solution will allow for capture of potential customers and their interests, such as reserving a table at a restaurant, COVID regulation queries, closing hours and other general inquiries.
Due to the global pandemic, site inspections and physical tours are downsized. To tackle this issue, virtual HD tours of facilities and venues should be available for guests looking to book a hotel room, meeting space or even a restaurant.
Following the trend of contactless payment, mobile check-ins should be available especially at business or city center hotels. This feature reduces time spent at check-in desks and allows for a seamless room transfer for guests who wants to reduce human-to-human contact.
2 - Sustainability
A recent survey conducted by HotWire has showcased that more than 47% respondents ditched products and services that violated personal values and were not eco-friendly (BusinssInsider,2020).
Additionally, 6% of US customers are now vegan which is a 500% increase from 2019 (PlantProteinsCo,2020). US retail of plant-based food items have also seen an increase of purchase of 11%.
This upward trend in mindful customers have urged hospitality and restaurant professionals to upgrade their offerings to better cater to these customers.
Organic and Vegan Food Menu
Regardless of the cuisine served at your establishment, vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free options are vital in your menu mix. The global vegan food market is set to be valued at 24 billion US dollars by the end of 2025 (Statista, 2020).
The global gluten free food market value has also been set to increase substantially due to increased awareness amongst customers, particularly Millennial and Gen Z customers (Statista, 2020).
Eco-friendly Takeaway Packaging
The food service delivery market in the UK is valued at 8.5 billion GBP and the competition is tougher than ever (Statista,2020). To capture the market, a key way to differentiate is by providing eco-friendly menu items as well as conscious packaging.
Over 50% of customers are more likely to spend their money at your restaurant if you practice sustainability, according to the US National Restaurant Association. Eco friendly packaging was also named as the top trend in this report (Restaurant.org, 2020).
3 - Smart Space Utilization
Several renowned hoteliers have expressed innovative use of property space as a key way to maximize revenue during periods of low or restricted demand. This creative use of space will be essential in 2021 where the future of international travel is still uncertain.
Customers are now shifting away from closed door spaces to more well-ventilated outdoor spaces in the light of the pandemic. This shift in interest should be catered to and capitalised upon by hotel and restaurant owners, both for event and social purposes.
The work-from-home trend is one set to continue well into 2021, with many companies finding it a more attractive long-term solution.
Hotels and restaurants should adapt their space(s) to cater to this new market, including upgrades in Wi-Fi, power outlets and functional furniture, as well as attractive offers to keep them coming back.
Day rentals of hotel rooms during low demand periods are also a great way to maximise your revenue (Forbes,2020). Round-the-clock housekeeping, gym and swimming pool facilities, guest room amenities and much more are now at the reach of customers who are required to work remotely, offering a productive space with the added leisure benefits.
The Senior VP of Operations Accor, Mr. Dhawan, has found a new way to tackle energy costs: “Guest rooms are allocated on certain floors, and non-occupied guest rooms floors are adjusted and optimized to save energy costs”. This smart way of utilizing guest floors and adjusting energy distribution accordingly is a great way to manage your expenses, especially during low demand.
The hospitality industry is changing and the main aim for hoteliers and restauranteurs is to stay in tune with these new customer demands. By optimizing and revamping menu offerings, integrating technology into the experience and finding creative ways to maximise your spaces, you will be set for a successful 2021 and beyond.
About the Author
Fida Faisal is a hospitality graduate trying to navigate her way through life in a true Gen Z manner. You can find her at a café with her friends trying to decode life’s biggest mystery: where do lost socks go?
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