Start the New Year Right: Hospitality Trends for 2018

And just like that, 2017 has passed! We hope you had a wonderful (and profitable!) holiday season, and are excited about the year to come. January is a month for resolutions—an opportunity to reflect on the past year and think of ways to improve in the next. This is just as true for businesses as it is for individuals. We all have room for improvement. So if you’re looking to make some changes at your lodging operation, and are in need of inspiration, here are the top hospitality trends in design, technology, and operations, for 2018.

Design

Biophilic design >> Based on the idea that humans have an innate desire to be surrounded by nature, biophilic design is the newest trend in architecture and interior decor. It’s an aesthetic that—through the incorporation of natural elements—seeks to alleviate stress and improve wellness. As the hospitality industry is forever endeavoring to enhance the guest experience, it’s not a surprise that biophilic design is beginning to garner the interest of hoteliers across the globe. And to good effect; a study conducted by Terrapin Bright Green found that 36% more guests spend time in a lobby with biophilic design features. So what makes a space biophilic? Anything that creates a direct or indirect experience of nature. That includes the incorporation of plant and water features, maximizing natural lighting and using natural colors and materials (just to name a few).

Public spaces >> An emphasis on shared space is the current trend in hotel design. Inspired by the preferences of millenials who spend less time in their rooms and seek out places where they can socialize and collaborate—properties have shifted the focus from in-room amenities to curating comfortable and inviting shared spaces. Many are ditching the front-desk for living-room style lobbies where staff (equipped with iPads) can engage with customers more authentically, and guests can spend time working, reading and socializing.

Technology

Smart rooms >> From phones to socks, it seems like everything we use these days is getting a smart iteration. As the ubiquity of these devices grows, the technology is naturally finding its way into the hospitality industry. This means equipping rooms with things like smart TVs (so customers can stream their favorite content) to personalized climate and lighting control. Guests expect properties to have the same comforts and conveniences they’ve grown accustomed to at home.

Personalization >>Guest loyalty is won by hoteliers that go above and beyond. Now more than ever that means personalization like free wi-fi for the frequent business traveler or cafe recommendations for the coffee lover. Hotels today are using technological solutions to track customer habits and preferences in order to surprise and delight.

Operations

Community connections >>Another characteristic of millennials that is changing the hospitality game? The prioritization of experience over things. Travelers these days are highly motivated to engage with the communities they travel to. For hoteliers, this means it’s a good idea to do the same. Showcasing local artwork, collaborating with local businesses and ensuring staff is knowledgeable about local experiences will create the authentic experience these guests are looking for.

Going green >> Most people these days are concerned for the environment. And in addition to making changes to go green at home, travelers are prioritizing eco-friendly accommodation when on the road. There’s a lot hoteliers can do to fit this bill. Whether the changes are simple (like using more efficient light bulbs) or extensive (like installing a grey-water recycling system), environmentally conscious guests (and the earth!) will appreciate the effort.

 

It’s the beginning of a new year; the perfect time to consider new ways to improve your business. And if you’re in need of inspiration, why not start with these ideas for design, tech, and operations in hospitality. They’re a few of the biggest trends for 2018.

 

A Hoteliers Guide to Targeting Millennials

People have a lot to say about Millennials—some of it flattering, some of it less so. But whatever your opinion about Generation Y (born in the ’80s and ’90s) they’re one that cannot be ignored by marketers in any industry. Now outnumbering baby boomers, and aging into financial independence, Millennials have become a powerful cohort in the consumer landscape. In fact, it is projected they will collectively spend 1.4 trillion dollars every year, by 2020. Considering Millennials have a greater desire to travel than any other generation, you can bet a significant chunk of that spending will find its way into the hospitality industry. With that in mind, it’s a good idea to start thinking about ways you can begin targeting what has been dubbed the ‘Wanderlust Generation,’ to capitalize on this powerful demographic.

What Millennials Want

So what are Millennials looking for in a vacation? When it comes to trip-planning, this generation prioritizes authentic experiences, unique spaces and a social atmosphere. Luckily for you, this places independent and boutique hotels at a distinct advantage!

Authenticity >> Studies show that more than anything else, traveling Millennials are in pursuit of an immersive cultural experience. This generation wants to eat authentic cuisine, explore colorful neighborhoods and enjoy new activities. Cater to this appetite for authenticity by highlighting your community’s character and offering suggestions for the unique local businesses that will stand out in your guests’ memories (and on their social media feeds).

Unique Spaces >> In the past, chain hotels were frequented by guests for their consistency. It was a comfort to know exactly what to expect from a property regardless of location.  Now that potential guests have access to so much information online (including user reviews and virtual tours) it’s much easier to ensure quality. As a result, Millennials are able to focus on seeking out unique properties instead. Make sure to emphasize your hotel’s individuality on your website and OTA profiles in order to appeal to this generation.

Social Atmosphere >> Another significant change from previous generations is a desire for communal areas and social events.  Millennials are spending less time in their rooms and looking for shared spaces to work, relax and socialize. Hotels are forgoing traditional lobbies for an aesthetic more closely resembling a living room or your favorite coffee shop. Consider creating spaces at your property where guests can work on their laptops, read books and play board games.

Marketing to Millennials

As an independent hotel, you have a lot to offer to the Millennial generation. But that doesn’t mean much if you’re not marketing to them effectively. Generation Y interacts with brands and businesses in a very different way than previous generations. To maximize Millennial clientele, make sure your marketing is mobile-friendly, social media heavy, and emphasizes engagement over selling.

Mobile >> 49% of Millennials use their smartphones to plan and book vacations, and most don’t bother trying to navigate a site that isn’t designed for mobile devices. We’ve been talking about the importance of mobile-friendly sites and booking engines for ages.  With Millennials beginning to dominate the consumer market, this advice is only becoming more relevant and necessary. If you haven’t made this change yet, it’s officially time.

Social Media >> Millennials are known for their avid use of social media. If you want to get their attention you need to be targeting them where they are, including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and even Snapchat. Your strategy for these platforms should include plans for your own content (like choosing images that evoke #travelinspo) as well as campaigns to encourage guests to share their own experiences. Consider partnering with social media ‘influencers’ (whom Millennials trust significantly over traditional advertising) by offering complimentary stays or perks for sharing their experience online.

Engagement  >> The use of social media has changed the way Millennials expect to interact with businesses. Marketing campaigns that feel too corporate will completely miss their mark. This generation wants personalized interaction and two-way communication with their favorite brands. It’s a good idea to share, comment and engage with guests regularly on all your social media platforms and inspire loyalty with promotional campaigns and insider info.

The Millennial generation has become an exceedingly important group of consumers. Due to their size and growing spending power, Generation Y has changed the way brands do business across all industries. Start thinking about ways your property can target Millennials and capitalize on this generation of travelers.