By Nandika Udupihilla
New trends are emerging in the hospitality industry, and it is vital to understand what the market changes and disruptions are to stay ahead in the competitive landscape. Keeping up with the trends that affect the global hospitality industry is the only way to deliver the experiences that consumers expect.
The needs and priorities of hospitality consumers underwent heavy changes over the course of the last few years. As a result, more complex and diverse consumer expectations are on the rise.
What are the new hospitality consumer expectations?
According to industry experts, the top preferences that will shape service delivery in 2024 and beyond are as follows.
- Personalisation and curated experiences
- Focus on the environment
- Expectations for sustainable operations
- Wellness and health-centric hospitality
- The demand for safety and hygiene
- Preference for local experiences
- As consumer behaviour changes and evolves, so does the market demand for hospitality changes.
1. Personalisation and curated experiences
Across almost all industries, the need for personalisation is a significant trend. With the rise of big data, many guests want to be treated as individuals, where their preferences or special needs are seen and heard.
Thanks to data management applications and integrated analytics tools, personalisation can be created in various ways. Central reservation systems and front desk management software will allow hotels to curate packages for returning guests. Comprehensive channel management and booking solutions will allow restaurateurs to understand diner preferences and dietary requirements. Membership management modules can empower spas, wellness centres and clubs to track guest preferences and treatment methods. Especially with the rise of smart devices, hospitality businesses have access to a central hub of guest data that allows greater personalisation.
2. Focus on the environment
Modern consumers are increasingly invested in sustainability and prefer to enjoy hospitality without overstraining the natural resources. Businesses in the hospitality industry are compelled to invest in eco-friendly efforts, such as reducing waste, conserving energy and embracing green designs. Hotels, restaurants and leisure sectors are incorporating renewable energy sources, digital ERP solutions and smart technologies to reduce their carbon footprint and ensure sustainable business growth.
At the same time, these operational changes bring several benefits to businesses other than attracting eco-conscious consumers. The implementation of digitalisation and automation, together with green designs are making organisations more efficient, ergonomic and productive for the employees as well.
3. Expectations for sustainable operations
Millennials, Gen Z and the rising Gen Alpha are socially conscious than ever and lean towards brands that cater to inclusive designs, diverse menus and ethical labour practices. In the restaurant sector, this is visible via innovative POS solutions that diversify menu offerings, promoting vegetarian or vegan options. Hotels invest in customer-facing solutions to relieve their employees from routine or heavy operations so that faster services occur without compromising labour rights.
Similarly, the accommodation sector focuses on reservation management solutions to control occupancy numbers and understand their special requests to make spaces more accessible. Sustainability means moving beyond just green efforts and transforming businesses to behave ethically and abide by their social responsibility. In 2024, this is a necessity that businesses should not overlook.
4. Wellness and health-centric hospitality
Wellness hospitality is rising in popularity, quickly becoming one of the most sought-after hospitality services. Whether it is fuelled by the desire to enhance the quality of life, practice self-care, or relieve stress, people are increasingly health-conscious and enthusiastic about wellness and health offerings. In the food and beverage sector, this change is visible in revamped menus that include healthier options, including gluten-free, dairy-free, low-fat, vegetarian, vegan, and organic options. Accommodation sector is incorporating gyms, yoga centres and other fitness facilities into their services.
Traditional spas are becoming a popular choice among tourists. Most well-known hotels and resorts are in the process of integrating wellness as one of their primary offerings. Among wellness, sub-trends are emerging, such as incorporating natural elements in the services, investing in comprehensive wellness management solutions and using-technology based treatments.
5. The demand for safety and hygiene
Guests’ expectations of safety and hygiene standards have become incredibly demanding post-pandemic and the importance of safety and hygiene standards were even more emphasised in an industry heavily reliant on person-to-person touch. As a result, the contactless operations are here to stay. Mobile wallets, mobile check-in and app-based guest request management modules reshape how guests are treated. These solutions enable a complete contactless journey for guests, ensuring higher safety standards.
In addition, robust housekeeping is becoming an essential element in hospitality. Along with the accelerated room turnover time, cleanliness, disinfectant methods, and room safety are becoming essential to keeping guests satisfied and feeling safe within public and private hospitality spaces.
6. Preference for local experiences
Another shift in consumer behaviour is the travellers’ emerging love for local experiences. There is an increased desire to experience the culture of a destination—be it visiting special monuments, local gastronomical experiences or purchasing locally-made products. The ethos behind this behavioural change is that most tourists wish to experience something different from their daily lifestyle as they visit a new destination. In other words, an authentic way of life in the location they visit.
Hospitality businesses adhering to this demand are tasked with a new responsibility. Diversifying their menus to offer local cuisines, effective inventory control modules that sources local material, and partnerships with local destinations and artists are some of the ways businesses are adopting.
Responding to market trends is the only way forward
As the market changes with evolving consumer needs, it is essential that hospitality service providers understand how to optimise their strategies and personalise their offerings. Whether it is operational changes, setting up new ethical frameworks or adopting new technology, changes are pivotal to keep the consumers happy and satisfied.
Embracing innovation ensures meeting consumer needs effectively, simultaneously paving the way for sustained success that contribute to the bottom line.