At the time of writing, we’re nearly halfway through the year. And, while it’s customary to list forthcoming trends at the start of the year, we know how precious that time is when you work in the hospitality industry.
However, if you reserved January for business planning, menu rewriting and staff development, a few vitally important trends might have slipped under your radar.
Worry not, for these trends aren’t going anywhere and now might be the perfect time to take advantage of the latest developments in the hospitality sector.
Here’s our four favourites, burgeoning trends of 2019.
1. Democratised dining
Some will argue the democratisation of dining was instigated by the millennial generation’s desire to blur the lines between formal and casual. Others will suggest it’s nothing more than the constant evolution of hospitality.
Whichever way it’s swung, high-quality cuisine at affordable prices is what people want. What’s more, they want food that’s sustainably sourced, health-conscious and adaptable for vegans and those with allergies.
How open, affordable, and boundary-free is your menu? Is a street food night something you need to consider? Have you finally developed that separate gluten-free menu?
2. New tech
Did you know you can now implement technology that helps you grow loyalty among guests by merely offering them a Wi-Fi service?
And what about chatbots? Have you considered turning your Facebook page or website into a guest communication platform that requires little to no effort on your part?
Hospitality has long been a sector that sits at the forefront of tech innovation. From artificial intelligence to biometric security, hotels and restaurants increasingly have access to tools and guest-facing technology that provides unforgettable experiences and invaluable revenue-making opportunities.
Perhaps most excitingly - and just like dining (see point 1) - technology is fast becoming democratised. Sure, you’re more likely to see a robot concierge first make its appearance in a big chain, but it doesn’t take long for such tech to trickle down to independent operators.
In-room digital assistance is a perfect example. Last year, Amazon launched Alexa for Hospitality, which places the familiar home assistant in hotel rooms to improve the guest experience and provide insightful data for the hotel. Expect to see that - and similar technology - become more widely available in the industry at acceptable price points later this year and beyond.
3. The importance of storytelling in omnichannel marketing
Marketing has always been about telling stories, but it’s becoming increasingly important in the hospitality industry, and for one excellent reason.
Omnichannel marketing has resulted in guests taking various, complex routes to make a hotel reservation or table booking. That means the story your business tells has to remain consistent throughout that journey.
So, whether they start on an OTA, your own website or from a blog post that links to your own online booking service, the brand message, experience and identity need to remain true and captivating throughout.
The good news? There’s very little you need to do other than stay true to your values in every piece of marketing communication you release, write or pass onto partners. Modern guests value heritage, but innovation is also vitally important if you’re to tempt them away from the bright lights of the chains.
Keep the human touch you’re known for, but ensure you refine your brand story across every marketing channel you have.
4. Sustainability in the guest’s eye
There’s that word again. And, if you rolled your eyes at the mere sight of the ’s’ word, we’d urge you to give it a little more consideration.
No one needs a lesson in climate change, ocean plastics or deforestation; we all know these issues exist and are genuine problems. What’s changed over the last couple of years is how they’re perceived by consumers.
We’re all becoming more conscientious shoppers, and this extends to hospitality. It’s why being a transparent, accountable business is key to winning more customers who are likely to become brand advocates. It’s why Apple makes such a big deal about its approach to the environment, and why Real Madrid invests in football kits made from recycled plastics.
This stuff doesn’t - and shouldn’t - just come from the big boys, though. What are you doing to demonstrate the sustainability of your business? How can you convince customers that your operation balances delivering an exceptional guest experience with keeping a watchful eye on the local environment?
We’ll be keeping our own eagle eye on the above trends, but we firmly believe they represent the most approachable for a diverse range of hospitality businesses.