Four Emerging Customer Experience Trends in Hospitality

Due to a strong economy, global consumer purchasing power and digital innovation, 2019 has brought the opportunity to engage with your audience using all the latest technological trends.

Consumer expectations are rising, and no industry more so than the hospitality industry. So how do you provide the hyper-personalized experience they’re looking for? Here are 4 of the latest trends looking set to influence and shape the hospitality industry.

1. Millennial Targeting

“Bleisure” travel – the trend of blending business with leisure activities on business trips – is on the rise among millennials, providing a greater quality of life and work/life balance to those who take advantage of it. According to the second annual State of Business Travel Survey by National Car Rental, 90% of Millennials have engaged in bleisure travel in the past year, compared with 81 percent of Generation Xers and 80 percent of Baby Boomers.

Millennials have grown up in a time of rapid change with a constant demand for technology and their expectations of technology are unforgiving; they are connected 24/7 and are capable of managing an array of applications with the ease, actively seek out ways to maximize the efficiency of their time. Therefore, when it comes to traveling and hotel stays, millennials are keen to use technology to make their lives easier and their travel experience more seamless. Think mobile technology for your hotel staff streamlines guest requests so your employees can get them what they need faster. Combined with digitally-savvy, informed hotel staff, this creates a win-win for both the employee and the guest experience.

2. Health & Well-being

In recent years consumers are more interested in food as preventative medicine because they realize their diet is a big component of their health. Wellness tourism (travel with the intent to maintain or improve health) will be even bigger than it was in 2018. In fact, the industry is forecasted to reach $919 billion in revenue by 2022.

While there will always be a special place for deep fried appetizers, there’s no reason dining while traveling has to be bland or unhealthy. Have you been hoping for an opportunity to offer a vegan menu or want to exclusively serve food that has been grown within a 100-mile radius? From installing fitness centers, health spas or saunas, to hosting retreats and serving healthy food options, there’s always more you can be doing to outrun your competition.

It’s not only the food options that are driving the health and well-being hospitality wave, Eco-friendly options are just as much sought after. New hotels often incorporate eco-friendly concepts at the design stage, but older structures can also become more eco-friendly by researching ways to reduce waste and reuse or recycle items. For instance, some hotels ask guests to use towels more than once to cut down on waste-water and energy expenditure.

3. Social Media

This year we’re seeing a shift towards more quick-fire content, with live-streaming and social media story-telling gaining momentum across many popular platforms. “Instagrammability” has become a key factor for travelers when choosing their next destination, and in 2019 we’re noticing more and more hotels physically creating eye-catching Instagrammable scenes around their property to encourage guests to take Insta-worthy photos or videos.

Indicators suggest that both establishments and travelers will increase their use of social media channels, so businesses need to check out the competition and see what guests are saying about them. The most effective way to do so is by using an Online Reputation Management platform. Finally when it comes to paid search digital marketing, Retweets and Facebook shares of what you post to your company accounts still might help attract customers, but it should not be the sum of your social media efforts. Just like for the marketing of almost every other industry, the rising importance of paid social ads will be a key hotel social media trend this year.

Because hotel social media trends are moving so quickly and in so many directions, the value of experience and expertise is definitely increasing. It’s time to prepare your business to take advantage of them.

4. AI Technology

Artificial Intelligence is becoming increasingly popular in hospitality. Because of the advantage it presents, customer services levels will increase at all stages of the guest experience.

It’s predicted that chatbots will be involved in more than 85% of customer service interactions by the year 2020—which isn’t surprising. AI can provide 24/7 service while significantly reducing cost. And there is little customer resistance as consumers adjust to the use of chatbots and other digital assistants in all aspects of their lives.

However, while there are many industries that will eventually be dominated by AI, the hospitality industry isn’t likely to go full-automation, due to the power of the in-person interaction and the crucial role this plays in the guest experience.

Final Thoughts

The hospitality industry is expeditiously evolving, and the changes within the industry are being embraced by accommodation provider businesses and guests. By understanding and embracing these trends that are steadily transforming the industry — and putting the right tools and systems in place — you’ll improve guest experiences, enhance your reputation, and optimize your revenue throughout 2019 and beyond.