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2008 Top Hotel and Restaurant Trends To Watch

San Francisco, CA, December 12, 2007 -- Today, Andrew Freeman & Co. (AF&&Co.), a leading hospitality and restaurant consulting firm, released its 2008 Trend Watch list. Tapping into the pulse of the hospitality and restaurant marketplace for the coming year, the Trend Watch lists the top restaurant/bar and top hotel trends to expect in the New Year.

Top trends for restaurants and bars range from artisan salt selections to Izakaya bar menus; chefs growing their own gardens, and cupcakes moving from kids plates to adult menus. Top hotel trends include the rise of smallish boho-chic hotels, to the introduction of interesting "get frisky" packages for feline pets. Industry veteran Andrew Freeman said of the 2008 trends to watch, "Today, the modern diner and traveler expect a more personalized and fun approach to their experiences from the bar to the hotel suite." Freeman continues, "Savvy guests are up on all of the trends and expect to be wowed. They desire unique and one of a kind offerings." He continued to say that now more than ever, guests make their choices based on great word-of-mouth and social networking online buzz.

From the marketing standpoint, the biggest trend of the year is that giving back is essential-and both restaurants and hotels are partnering more with charitable organizations that align with their values, benefit their communities and make good business sense.

Staying in the Groove: Hotel Trends

Going In and Coming Out
Gay and lesbian travel (LBGT) continues to gain velocity and popularity. With a $54 million market share, major cities and hotels around the world are opening their doors wide to welcome this very discerning crowd.

Netting New Clients
Catch potential guests on the Internet. Consumers today continue to rely less on printed and bound guides, turning instead to social media websites, travel sites and blogs for planning, scheming and dreaming. Savvy hotels are creating websites with a taste of things to come, and adding systems to make reservations a breeze.

Lounge Act
Stylish hotels are forgoing traditional lobbies and creating vibrant lounge environments. Sleek couches, oversize chairs and lighting are replacing the staid and stuffy reception area to create hip social spots for swanky cocktails and music that attracts guests and locals alike.

Wired from Door to Door
The technology boom continues. Free wireless Internet, remote paperless check-in and check-out, on-line reservations, Ipod docking stations, movies on-demand and in-room Play Stations are now expected by today's modern traveler.

Heading for Greener Pastures
The green train has left the station and more hotel companies are jumping on board. Here's the basic packing list: high-efficiency light bulbs, non-toxic paints and carpeting, low-flow showerheads and toilets, non-toxic cleaning materials, organic cotton towels and linens (laundered only on request, of course), air filtering systems and hotel collateral printed on recycled paper using soy-based inks.

Beyond the Bare Essentials
Forgot your Ipod? Covet that cozy robe? Now just about everything in your hotel is available for purchase. Left your toothbrush, deodorant or swim suit at home? Thoughtful hotels have amenities that cover just about every guest request.

At Your Leisure
Business is booming, but not with the typical business traveler. Leisure travel and multi-generational family adventure vacations are on the rise. Grandmother and granddaughter travel packages keep the generations connected.

Take a Deep Breath and Say "Ohmmm"
From Yoga studios to one-on-one gyms and medi-spas, hotels are seriously focusing on your well-being by offering personalized treatments packages including diet coaching, outdoor excursions, and rejuvenating boosts with custom massage menus.

Small boutique hotels are now popping up in bohemian neighborhoods surrounded by art studios, ateliers, and galleries. They soak in the local culture by supporting local artists with custom-designed rooms and unique decor.

The Halls of Comfortable Learning
Hotels get a "PhD" in service when they offer tours of local markets, in-depth peeks into local culture, cooking classes with the chef and other cultural educational experiences.

Creature Comforts Get Frisky
Get your bow wow going and say hello to Rover and Spike. Today, most hotels are already dog friendly, so get ready to welcome the next breed of pets - Frisky the cat and Polly the parakeet.

May I Take Your Order Please: Restaurant & Bar Trends

Saline Solution
Artisan Salt: fleur de sel, sel gris, Hawaiian pink, Himalayan black; even smoked salt has appeared in dishes from tuna tartar to salted caramel ice cream.

The Aussie Invasion
OZ has arrived. Well beyond wine imports, menus are loading up with Aussie olive oil, honey, fruit pastes, and seafood.

The Lounge Around
More full-scale dining room menus and innovative bar menus are being offered in the lounge and bars. Now, guests can relax, order as much or as little as they like, and be casual as friends come and go.

Small Plates Go Global
From Japanese Izakaya, Indian Chaat, Middle Eastern Mezze to Spanish Tapas, the small plates craze keeps going and growing in every kind of restaurant concept across the country.

Artisans in Residence
From house-made salumi like prosciutto, sausage, coppa, salami, mortadella to house-cured olives. Chefs take more pride in making everything in-house. You say salumi, I say salami.

Blooming Chefs
Chefs with a green thumb are growing their produce, usually organic, on their own farms, behind their restaurants, or on rooftop gardens. You can't get more local than this.

The Cupcake Revolution
From delicious cupcakes with buttercream frosting to homemade twinkies and old-fashioned butterscotch puddings, nostalgic desserts remain a favorite. Now many are garnished with retro treats like Pop Rocks and Caramel Corn.

That Size Fits You Perfectly
Dishes now come in small, medium, and large portions to satisfy a wide range of tastes and appetites. The entrée as we know it is not going away, but size does matter.

Fine Dining Re-Defined
Diners still crave four-star cuisine and service, only now they want these experiences in more relaxed settings.

I Can Get It For You Retail
Fine dining goes retail. Like that pasta or hand-crafted teapot? Today, even the best places have To-go sections or catalogs.

Sweet Says Hello to Savory
Caramel with foie gras, sorbet in your soup, salt on desserts, and truly tangy frozen yogurts - sweet and savory join forces with delicious results.

Extreme Green
Obeying the mantra of SOL food (seasonal, organic and local) is almost the norm. Now, restaurants are going completely sustainable with biodegradable disposable tableware, eco-conscious cleaners and a suite of green business practices.

Sexy Unisex Bathrooms
Please put the seat down when you're done. Unisex bathrooms are popping up in hot restaurants, bars and lounges across the country. Will this be the end of long lines for the ladies?

It's A Split Decision
A range of wine service options: by the glass, the bottle, the 2 oz. taste, even the quartino. Quaffers have plenty of choices now. Still can't decide? Split the difference and get the half bottle.

99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall
Gastro-pubs with dedicated beer lists, featuring special brews, house-made drafts and hard-to-find ales are all the rage. Adding to the experience are custom glassware selections and special pairing menus.

Reaching Beyond Riesling
Gruner Veltliner and Blaufrankisch. These wines from Germany and Austria (and others from beyond) may be tough to pronounce, but they are easy to drink and pair. Will we be Hungary for more next year?

Bar None
The chef's new signature dish - bar snacks. Homemade pretzels, paprika tossed nuts and hand-rolled sesame sticks take the place of stale popcorn and keep guests reaching for more.

Shaken, Stirred, Muddled and Organic
Bar chef/mixologists get more creative with hand-crafted one-of-a-kind organic cocktails utilizing fresh fruit, herbs, spices, vegetable purees, house-made syrups, and innovative infusions. More and more bars now have a selection of organic beverage options.

The trend list was developed by AF&Co., from a combination of close industry observation, coast-to-coast travel, discussions with industry experts, meetings with hotel and restaurant clients, press contacts, conferences attended and media sources. During 2007, the AF&Co. consultants traveled 100,800 miles, ate 1,092 restaurant meals, produced 6 restaurant openings and 4 hotel launches and finally, slept for a total of 210 nights in hotels.

About Andrew Freeman & Co. - In November 2005, Andrew Freeman realized a long-time dream by opening Andrew Freeman & Co., a boutique marketing and public relations agency specializing in hospitality and lifestyle clients. Prior to opening AF&Co., Andrew worked for the San Francisco-based Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants as the Vice President, Public Relations and Strategic Partnerships, building on his previous role for the company as Vice President, Restaurant Sales & Marketing. In his decade with Kimpton, Andrew was responsible for developing and executing all public and media relations activities - including the launch of new properties - for the global brand, the group of 40 hotels and restaurants, as well as for the corporate headquarters. 


Andrew Freeman & Co.
155 Sansome Street, Suite 300
San Francisco, CA 94104
T: 415.781.5700

Also See: Top Trends Impacting the Travel Industry Revealed at HEDNA's Conference / December 2007
Eleven Dining Trends for 2008 / Forecasted by Joseph Baum & Michael Whiteman Co./ December 2007
Benchmark Hospitality's Top Five Dining Trends for 2007 / August 2007


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