It is clear that the role of travel in our lives is changing. More and more, people view travel as a right rather than a luxury and consider it an increasingly crucial part of their lives. The future of travel and tourism is being driven by a complex set of converging forces which are obliging the industry to think about how they can reshape the overall experience. The hotel industry is going through a period of unparalleled, irreversible changes and will look very different in 2020. Trends in technology, entertainment, energy and science will vastly change the hotel experiences for travellers.
Digital technologies are shifting the power towards the consumer. Simultaneously, consumers are changing. The millennial traveller, who was born between 1980 and 2000, already makes up over one-third of the world’s hotel guests and predictions state this percentage will increase to fifty percent by the year 2020. Thus, over the next few years, we will see millennials becoming the primary consumer market. They can be defined as digital natives who bring a strong desire for local, authentic experiences. “Digital” guests expect hotels to give them a progressively personalised service.
Hoteliers ought to force themselves to rethink the hotel and room design, guest services and experiences. While, at the same time, focusing on ethical footprints and smart features to satisfy the millennial customer, who wants to discuss, organise, book and customise their experience through their smartphone at a convenient time. Let’s cut to the chase: how is the hotel of the future going to be like:
An ever more intelligent and smart hotel
Predictions about technology and its uses in the travel industry can be tricky due to their rapid development. Currently, one can see robot butlers, smart mirrors and mobile payments in action in several hotels around the world. Emerging technologies like virtual reality (VR), 3D printing, artificial intelligence (AI) will all be employed in the near future — some are already taking the first steps.
I would like to highlight the last topic mentioned — Artificial Intelligence. Its uses are numerous and I have no doubts about its progressive adoption by the travel industry. Let me introduce you to HiJiffy: a chatbot for the hospitality industry that connects guests with the hotel’s staff through Facebook Messenger — it is a tech-disruptive tool that will empower hoteliers. The chatbot named Jiffy will allow guests to book a room, access hotel services or be constantly informed of daily events, simply by texting the hotel’s Facebook page. The aim of hotels will be creating an all-around hi-tech experience, therefore by 2020, we will see a rise of technological solutions specially designed for the millennial travellers.
Smart and individualised room
Whenever we book holidays, we select a specific seat on the plane, we book a specific table at a restaurant. So, why not pick a specific room in a hotel? In the future, this possibility will undoubtedly be a reality. One will be able to pick which floor to stay on, the size of the room and all sorts of other variables.
Besides picking the characteristics of the room, guests will have high-tech features like the ability to control the lights and air-conditioning with their mobile phone. Most people, do not leave their houses without their laptops, tablets or smartphones, consequently, hotels will incorporate this into their hotel room design. Guests soon will be able to control with the help of their phone, the majority of their smart room. Moreover, plugs will become easily accessible in rooms — everyone wants lots of plugs to charge every gadget.
Furthermore, rooms are going to have minimalistic design instead of traditional bulky furniture. According to Luanne Fausett, a hotel designer, people seldom unpack, thus there is no need for closets and we will start seeing clever spaces for suitcases and larger dressing areas — giving the impression of more space.
Changes in the hotel design
The days of a staid lobby have come to an end. Hotels by 2020, will have dramatically changed their public spaces, adopting the concept of a living room. That is, lobbies will increasingly become multi-used spaces with bars, restaurants, tech-lounges and business centres. Personal devices can stream content, which lets guests work or socialise anywhere in the hotel. All they need is a great Wi-Fi and power.
In addition, hotels will integrate more natural materials and elements in their designs. Aside from trying to reduce their carbon footprint, hotels will start to use more organic lines, as well as natural materials, colours and textures, in order to give the hotel a more natural vibe. Consequently, the boundaries between indoors and outdoors will become blurred.
Hotels will provide more meaningful experiences
Hotels need to focus on inspiration, personalisation and local experiences. These characteristics have become extremely important for the millennial traveller. It is predicted that hotels will place more emphasis on local flavours, regional art and brands. Hoteliers are starting to realise that this offers a more genuine and memorable experience for their guests.
Additionally, hotels will definitely pay more attention to fitness, as one might say that this is the beginning of the “health craze” in the hospitality industry. By 2020, hotels will invest money into having real fitness centres. In fact, some inclusively say that fitness equipment is going to be integrated into guestrooms.