The hotel industry has exciting things booked for 2019! Growth in the sector is expected to remain gradual but consistent, as has been the case for the past 10 years. With high supply, building new locations doesn’t make sense, but the competition is keen as a result. To stay relevant, the industry has focused its energy on innovation instead of construction. Let’s look at the evolution of the industry in 2018 to get a feel for the predicted upcoming shifts in the hotel landscape.
Hotel design has been a key disruptor in 2018. With guests expecting more and better service than ever, staying ahead of trends is critical to the success of major hoteliers. Lobbies have been transformed into living rooms, and eco-friendly design is a must. Once considered a place to rest during travels, whether for business or pleasure, today’s hotels have become travel destinations themselves. While room occupancy rates increased consistently from 2011 to 2015, they have remained steady for the past few years, with rates during the peak months of June and July at 74.2% and 74.05% in 2015 and 2018, respectively. This lull in the action has prompted hotel companies to focus on experiential design in a push to earn and retain guest loyalty. This trend saw its beginnings in 2017, continued through 2018, and will likely keep escalating in 2019.
Amenities comprise the other big piece of the innovation puzzle, and there seem to be no limits in the current tech-savvy climate. Technology was certainly a defining force in hotel amenities in 2018. Connection was key, and this trend is set to explode in 2019. The options for guests to check-in before they arrive, unlock their rooms remotely, and communicate with staff via text message have been hugely successful. Smart rooms are hot, too, and are expected to keep popping up worldwide. The major chains are experimenting with these concepts at varying stages, and the results have been promising. According to Deanna Ting, Hospitality Editor at Skift, smart rooms are set to take off in the coming year. “All of the major hotel companies are testing this out in various stages,” Ting says. Hilton has created an app that will soon allow guests to adjust their room lighting, temperature, and TV via smartphone, and Marriott International is experimenting with voice-activated technology as one of their most exciting future features. “All of this is just an effort for hotel companies to fulfill the desire they have to customize and personalize your stay,” Ting says. “It helps them as much as it helps guests.”
While hotels will likely continue to have slow but steady economic growth on paper, the evolutionary rate is a different story altogether. Growth in the areas of design and amenities will remain essential to staying relevant in the current construction holding pattern. In an effort to cater to millennials as their main guests, technology and personal experience will remain at the forefront for the foreseeable future. However, with the even more technology-reliant and entrepreneurial-spirited Gen Z youth entering college, the next decade should prove to be just as innovative.
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