The travel industry is ever evolving.
Why? Because human behaviours are constantly adapting to their environment; due to trends, circumstances, people of influence. As a result, booking and guest behaviours adapt too, and so must hotels to remain competitive.
Not all changes in the industry are sudden, and very few are unpredicted. Most are subtle tweaks to the way hotels will need to attract and retain their customers.
But, no matter how small these evolutions may seem it’s vital you understand what they will mean for you. So, here we’ve collated some of the predicted trends for 2018 to give you our take on how these changing behaviours are likely to impact small and boutique hotels.
Hotel receptions have been given an overhaul in recent years and the days of queuing to be served at a front-desk are predicted to be behind us. Check-in areas designed to feel like a lounge are the latest trend, with the aim of guests feeling comfortable, relaxed and taken care of as soon as they enter the hotel.
With payment systems quicker than ever and so much of the form filling being done online or on mobile there’s no need to “pay at the till”, and so many hotels are greeting guests with a comfy seat and a drink on arrival. For smaller boutique hotels this fits perfectly with the existing customer experience and is much easier to implement than it is for larger properties.
You don’t need to go to the extreme of pulling out your reception desk, but do you have the space to ‘soften’ your check-in area, or could you welcome guests in the lounge on arrival?
For larger hotels, this makes sense. Tech can make operations super-quick and seamless, but it can often feel unnecessary for smaller properties. However, as the trend continues to dominate the market smaller-scale activations are emerging and giving boutique hotels the opportunity to tech-it-up!
Tech isn’t just relevant to operations it can be key to guest experience too, and in particular in-room tech can change the perception of your property drastically.
From remote controlled lighting to voice-controlled hubs like Amazon’s Alexa, these lower fee applications of tech allow guests to play around with the latest gadgets, making their experience with you more memorable.
As hotels have become more innovative, experimental and playful, guests expect much more than just a room. They’re looking for an experience, one that they’ll want to tell their friends, family and social media audiences all about.
A comfortable bed and a powerful shower won’t cut it, these days guests practically burst through the doors of their room expectantly, waiting to be surprised and delighted.
One of the most powerful ways you can impact your guest experience is through personalisation.
There’s a reason this concept continues to top the charts of travel trends year-after-year. Simple touches such as a personal note in their room or a gift waiting for them on arrival can transform their experience with you and, most importantly will meet their growing expectations!
For a guide to activating a personal experience for guests pre, during and post stay, check out our blog The Importance of Personalisation.
You probably see first-hand that many guests live experiences through their phone lens! The faster content is shared and consumed the more people are naturally sharing micro-moments of their lives with their social media networks.
As a result, guests are seeking experiences with a view of how it will translate online; where can they take photos, will there be an opportunity to live stream, what will people think of the experience, will they be jealous, will they want to try it themselves?
Granted, many guests don’t go to this extreme, but taking the time to think about how your hotel will be ‘shared’ is vital as the majority of guests will have their smartphone or camera to hand in your hotel, and that recommendation of your property has huge value to your business.
Highlight photogenic areas of your hotel or create staged photo opportunities. Think about your décor – are you on-trend, can you accessorise, do you have unique and quirky ornaments that will attract attention and photograph well.
Spend time looking on Instagram and you will soon see the content that guests are naturally capturing, learn from that and tailor your experience.
Find more top tips here in our guide to Creating Instagram Moments.
One of the most surprising predictions for this year is that turn-down service is set to become optional in many hotels. From a cost perspective, this seems like a good idea. You can manage the service efficiently and plan for required resource.
However, from an experience perspective, this trend surprised us. In an era of live streaming, Air BnB and Uber Pool, it seems surprising that guests are seeking more privacy, but reportedly that’s the case.
Less guests are seeing the service as a luxury and instead see it as an invasion of their space and so it will be interesting to see how hotels react to this in 2018.
As we know staycations in the UK are on the rise, and set to continue to increase, so the advice being shared with hoteliers is to now focus on the experience you’re offering in order to capitalise on this opportunity.
If people are opting to holiday in the UK then they will be seeking the unique experiences, adventures and indulgences that they often head overseas to find. The pressure is on for UK hotels to think outside of the box now.
If your property is in an unusual setting then you’re already on to a winner with holidays on boats and barges, in treehouses and tipis, or even lighthouses and windmills becoming booked up across the country. Without the benefit of a unique property to work with there are still plenty of ways for you attract guests.
Be playful with your interior design, food offering, local experience partnerships. There are plenty of ways for you to create a USP for your hotel. Once you find your story, then shout about it!
These days, everyone’s a foodie. Chef’s have become celebrities, food critics have become bloggers and food photographers have become social media influencers. Eating is about more than just the taste, it’s an experience, a story, an event.
This trend gives you plenty of opportunities to get people talking about your hotel and capture content which will promote your property. Think about the presentation of food because when a beautiful plate of food arrives at the table the first thing many guests will do is reach for their phones.
Also, if there’s movement on the dish like smoke, sparklers and dry ice people will see an opportunity to video and live stream. For a simpler activation, and perhaps if you don’t have a restaurant, you could build food in to your in-room welcome.
For example, chocolate covered strawberries in the guests room on arrival will give them great bragging rights and they’ll love showing off about their indulgence online!
Perhaps one of the newest trends in the industry has been “wellness”. That said, don’t let its somewhat infancy fool you. This trend is dominant and here to stay! As lives feel busier and pressures feel greater people put a huge emphasis on their ‘me-time’.
It’s no longer enough to get a good night’s sleep, people want to feel rejuvenated from a hotel stay. Guests expect to feel happier, healthier and zen when they stay with you, and this applies to smaller, boutique properties too.
Find out how to implement a wellness experience on a smaller scale here in our blog A New Emphasis on Wellness.