By Linchi Kwok

It is time to say goodbye to 2022, a year of healing and recovery from the pandemic. A few of our hospitality students weighed their perspectives on the industry’s 2023 outlook.

The student profiles

Bianca Louise N. Del Castillo, a second-year master’s student and competed in the STR Student Market Analysis Competition. She worked in hotels and travel agencies before joining the program.

Brandon J. Oceguera, a first-year student, working in a country club in Orange County (OC). He worked at the OC Fair for the past five years, with a total of seven years of experience. He loved to cook, eat, and golf.

Jordan A. Garcia-Nazarit, a veteran and a junior with a hospitality major. He works in the dining commons at Cal Poly Pomona.

The industry trends observed by our students

Customer-focused technologies, labor shortages, and consumer demands for healthier diets came to the top of our students’ minds. They commented:

Lodging by Bianca — “In-room technology will continue enhancing the guest experience. For example, voice assistants and tech hubs will increase. … I am excited to see this would continue as a trend, or it would be a standard among the hotels.”

Country clubs by Brandon — “Recently, we have been having more parties and, at the same time, more events. … This year, we are opening up with more capacity.”

Foodservice by Jordan — “Since I am a student cook there (in a dining hall), I really get the see how many products have been taken. Definitely, a lot more trending now is students eat healthier. And then, we are looking towards a lot more vegetarian and vegans options as well.”

Students believed the hospitality industry is responding well to the consumer trends

Lodging by Bianca — “The industry continues to adapt to this technology, and they are finding ways to attract leisure travelers.”

Country clubs by Brandon — “What my country club is doing is that we are hiring people outside of the club, like through agencies. And we are preparing more days in advance. We are mostly just putting in more hours by getting there early, or having people switch shifts, or basically rotating through their schedules.”

Foodservice by Jordan — “One of the most recent developments that we had is we introduced the Mongolian Bar back to the dining facilities. With that, we have more healthy options. We have chickens, and then we also serve vegan and noodles as well. To promote healthier eating, we have a full hummus bar now. So, we make specialty hummus. We have jalapeno honey hummus, which is really, really good. We are just trying to update and give more options to the salad bar.”

Students anticipated a positive outlook of the industry

Lodging by Bianca — “Based on our analysis of the STR data, the recovery was led by the rates, which had exceeded the 2019 level. Group travel is recovering as well. I see a bright feature of the lodging industry.”

Country clubs by Brandon –— “Most likely, we are going to keep succeeding, growing, and expanding more. Hopefully, we’ll have more employees to meet the demand.”

Foodservice by Jordan — “One of the biggest things we forecast will be the campus tours. A good number of them use the dining facilities. So, we are going to expect to hire helpers with those (demands), especially now we are trying to give more options for students. Students would feel more included to actually eat in the dining commons, which will also increase the demands.”

Overall, students are hopeful about the industry outlook in 2023. Are you feeling as positive as we enter a new year?