Looking ahead to next year we anticipate some of the trends for 2020 in the hotels and accommodation sector.
Evolution of in room F&B
A recent study conducted by Hilton found that 77 per cent of customers do not use the mini bar, and a majority didn’t want coffee machines in their rooms on environmental grounds. In their place, expect to see hotel developed apps which make ordering food and drink direct to room frictionless and quick. While hoteliers grapple with this change, hotel provided in-room dining has increasing competition from the likes of Deliveroo and Just Eat. Should hotels sacrifice security and brand by letting delivery drivers roam the corridors, or charge a tray service and deal with the admin of managing dozens of individual food deliveries? It’s clear that, in 2020, eating and drinking in room will be an all new experience.
Hotels - the consumer facing sector bucking the trend
For all the challenges facing the retail and dining sectors brought about by changing habits and consumer uncertainty, hotels have continued to perform strongly in 2019. The UK is still seen as a safe place to invest, with a robust legal system and property prices that have held up during the recent economic downturn. With hotels generally performing in line with GDP over the last century, a damaging Brexit might be a concern for operators. However, we expect the continued weak pound to provide insulation for the sector, both in keeping prices down for foreign tourists visiting the UK and ensuring many British holidaymakers opt for “staycations” to save money.
Personalisation through technology
Hotels collect vast amounts of data relating to their customers from a range of different sources. These sources include booking forms, social media, reservation systems, feedback requests and point of sale platforms, but much of this data is held on separate databases and not used to its full potential. Increasingly, hotels are realising the value in this information and combining data to build profiles of their customers, which allows for better personalisation during their stay. This can be as simple as thanking a customer for returning to a hotel or providing them with their favourite refreshments in room – small touches that can go a long way towards building loyalty and repeat custom.
However, hotels should be careful to keep data refreshed on their system – customer tastes change and someone using a hotel for business in the week may want a different experience when returning with their partner at the weekend. As ever, GDPR and security should be central to any database creation, with hefty fines and penalties for data breaches or failures.
With personalisation a key differentiator, expect to see increasingly sophisticated systems developed to track and enhance the customer experience in 2020 and beyond.
Sustainability – next steps
In 2019, hotels continued to reduce their impact on the environment with a number of initiatives to reduce waste and energy consumption, including replacing single use amenities with larger dispensers, replacing lighting with low energy bulbs and continuing to encourage guests to reuse bedding and towels. Sustainability remains a key theme for hoteliers going into 2020, and developers are embracing ecological designs into new sites with innovations such as living walls, natural building materials, and solar panels. While eco-friendly designs cost more up front, the lower running costs and the greater customer interest should result in better returns in the longer term. With supply of new hotel rooms set to increase faster than demand in 2020, incorporating sustainable elements into new builds will help forward thinking brands to retain and entice environmentally conscious guests to their hotels.