We’re at the start of a brand-new year, and the hospitality industry is busy with its annual trends forecasting, anticipating what the next twelve months may have in store for the world’s travelers and accommodation providers.
Hotel News Now sees mobile taking center stage this year, while data-driven personalization in a time of heightened data security is at the top of Hotel Online’s 2019 trend report. Travel Market Report consulted a hospitality professor, as well as hoteliers around the world, and reported their expectations for what the new year will hold. Skift was also interested in the trends that will shape experiential travel in 2019. One thing all the media we turned to seem to agree on is that hotel technology is set to play a bigger part in virtually all aspects of hospitality from standard operations to marketing techniques, fulfilling guest expectations, and everything in between.
What else do hospitality’s thought leaders, researchers, and insiders see coming down the line this year? Here’s a look at some of the biggest hotel industry trends tipped to take shape in 2019.
Hotel marketing in 2019: voice search and augmented and/or virtual reality
Long-tail keywords to work for voice search
A travel study done in 2018 revealed that 50% of all surveyed travelers use voice search for some part of their trip. Hoteliers may start bidding on conversational long-tail keywords, such as “Where can I find a hotel near me?”. Keeping all the hotel information listed online up to date will be important in 2019 for this reason as well.
Augmented reality and virtual reality
Augmented reality and virtual reality have huge potential in the hospitality industry. For marketing, AR and VR can give travelers a three-dimensional feel for a hotel room, the property, its venue spaces and surrounding environment — differentiating the hotel and helping the guest make a well-informed and inspired booking decision.
Hotel distribution in 2019: focus on mobile and a stronger push for direct bookings
Focus on improving mobile conversion
Even though mobile devices dominate hotel online traffic (and have done for a couple years now,) desktop still brings in the bigger revenue share for hotels. 2019 will be the year for hotels to focus on optimizing their websites and booking engines to effectively convert the growing number of mobile bookers.
Offsetting acquisition costs with direct bookings
As hoteliers become more confident with leveraging technology to compete online, we could be seeing many more of them running CPC campaigns that deliver lower-cost direct bookings through their websites. And smart tools, such as trivago’s Rate Connect with its budget recommendations and auto-optimized daily bids, will also help make direct distribution more time- and cost-effective in 2019.
Hotel design in 2019: Local and green, with the comforts of home
Local flourishes for a sense of place
Expect hotel design in 2019 to cater to the rising traveler expectation for a sense of the local culture. This could be by integrating traditional artisanal crafts or works by local artists into hotel rooms and communal spaces.
Adding greenery and going green
We mean green in two senses of the word: Literally, as in, more plant life incorporated into the hotel’s aesthetic. But also, eco-friendliness, with reusable bottles and glasses, LED lighting, and other measures to reduce the hotel’s and guest’s carbon footprint.
Simple, home-like amenities
As peer-to-peer accommodations continue to attract travelers, hoteliers can take a page from their book and offer their guests simple accouterments such as a book library, coffee machine and locally sourced brew and tea, or batch of fresh-baked cookies.
Hotel guest experience in 2019: privacy and experiential travel
The privacy plus personalization paradox
Given changes to Europe’s data privacy regulation, the GDPR, many EU-based hotels will need to reexamine how they collect and handle guest (and staff) data in 2019. However, personalization is still possible. Adapting to the new GDPR will in large part be a matter of taking simple steps such as making sure the hotel website has the appropriate privacy settings, using software that complies, and communicating privacy notices to guests.
We’ll be writing an article on what exactly the GDPR means to hotels soon.
Culinary travel, local excursions, and more hotel-organized activities
2019 will put the “experience” in “guest experience” in exciting new ways, whether it’s through wild food safaris or can’t-miss, once-in-a-lifetime activities. As travelers increasingly seek out memories and Instagram-worthy moments over traditional souvenirs, expect more partnerships between hotels and local restaurants and excursion providers.
Hotel technology in 2019: more important and more pervasive than ever
Hotel tech to improve operations and the guest experience
In 2019 technology is everywhere. And as more hoteliers understand that embracing tech isn’t just unavoidable, but hugely beneficial for their businesses, it will be an integral part of hotel operations, marketing, and distribution everywhere as well.
Considering the above trends, tech to improve the traveler’s experience and booking process on mobile would be a wise investment. It might also make sense for cloud-based property management systems to be another priority tech addition for many hoteliers in 2019, who find that running a hotel with a pen-and-paper method just isn’t doable in today’s modern, digital world.
Are there other hotel or hospitality trends you believe will prove important in 2019? We’d love to hear from you if you do, so be sure to write to us in the comments section below.
Featured photo by Chastity Cortijo