What does the future of hospitality look like to you? Staffless properties run by robots or a return to focusing on personal interactions?
Over the past few years, travel restrictions, demand rebounds, staff shortages and tech innovations have brought our industry countless challenges and opportunities.
And unsurprisingly, these big developments and events continue to shape the future of hotels in interesting ways.
Here, we’ll go over the key trends you need to be aware of in 2024, so you can use them to win over more guests, streamline operations and drive profitability.
From technology to guest expectations, shifts are happening quickly. Adapt to them and you’ll be able to attract more guests, create better experiences for them and drive up your revenue at the same
1. Post-Pandemic Travel Surpasses 2019 Levels and Gradually Rises
The Skift Travel Health Index takes into account key metrics like demand, hotel occupancy rates, room price development and flight data, making it a reliable real-time measure of the industry’s overall performance.
It shows that the global hospitality industry finally reached 2019 levels in March 2023 and surpassed them in April. By September, the index had moved well beyond 2019 figures.
While that’s great news, there are still some clouds on the horizon. The STR survey from Q4 2023 shows that confidence in the industry is high but it declined slightly throughout the year. That’s due to worries about recessions, staffing challenges and rising operating costs.
Still, forecasts for 2024 are looking good. According to Costar the average daily room demand is projected to reach all-time highs this year.
Key takeaway: Keep an eye on demand development in your market, so you can adjust your rates in real-time, optimize bookings and maximize revenue.
An IHG study echoes this. It found that 48% of travelers say a friendly, approachable and personalized experience is more important than ever following the pandemic, with 78% seeing service quality as an overall top priority. This means convenience, ease and efficiency will be critical moving forward. On top of that, people no longer want cookie-cutter stays. They want a curated experience that matches their unique set of interests. As a result, niche offerings like activities specific to your hotel and its location are gaining popularity.
Key takeaway: Consider using technology to personalize and streamline guest experience. Tools like guest messaging, for example, connect you directly, enabling unique and differentiated service.
3. Hotels Will Continue to Optimize the Digital Guest Experience
Today, many critical steps of the guest journey happen online. This includes everything from research and booking to communication with the hotel before, during and after the stay.
Set your hotel up for success with a solid online presence as the foundation. According to the SiteMinder Changing Traveler Report 2023, a good website is critical. Over 50% of travelers have abandoned bookings due to a negative experience on the hotel website or not feeling safe about the payment system.
Key takeaway: Implement hotel tech solutions that will make your guests’ stay smoother and more personalized. But keep in mind that should enhance the stay, not overshadow it.
4. Guest Experience Technology Will Dominate Hotel Tech Stacks
Moving forward, guest experience technology will become increasingly important in hotel tech stacks. The options for new solutions are vast, including contactless check-in/out, automated communication tools, online payment authorizations, digital tipping and keyless entry.
Which of these tools will add real value in the end strongly depends on your hotel and its target audience. But the company behind the tech also plays a critical role. When evaluating guest experience technology, go with a trusted partner like Canary. It was recognized as the best all-in-one guest experience platform at the 2024 Hotel Tech Awards winning eight awards for its leading solutions in the hotel industry.
Key takeaway: In a sea of providers offering countless tech solutions, find the right partner who will help you strike the ideal balance for your hotel and delight your guests. Choose wisely!
5. Travelers Prioritize Health and Wellness
Apart from the fear of infection, many people faced high levels of stress due to lasting uncertainty and instability during the pandemic. According to Statista, this led to 59% of US employees reporting moderate to very high levels of burnout in 2022.
That brought a new consciousness for the value of both physical and mental health. As a result, 50% of travelers want to address their physical or mental wellness while traveling. This has driven demand for locally sourced, organic food, yoga and exercise programs on-site, detox packages and more. It’s a trend worth following since the Global Wellness Institute expects wellness tourism expenditures to hit $1.3 trillion by 2025.
Key takeaway: Think about health- and wellness-focused services your hotel could offer. Could you use existing facilities like your rooftop terrace or garden for yoga and workout classes? Or maybe host healthy cooking courses in your kitchen?
6. Bleisure Travel is On The Rise
Grand View Research recently determined that the global bleisure travel market size was valued at $933.31 billion in 2022. Their data also suggests a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 12.1% from 2023 to 2030.
That’s because more people are combining business and leisure into so-called bleisure trips. In the past, that usually meant merely tacking on a day or two before or after work events to explore the destination. Today, guests often stay longer and even bring family or friends along. The trend of working while on the road is also going strong among digital nomads, the self-employed or employees with flexible work contracts.
Takeaway: Attract these guests by offering high-speed Wi-Fi, coworking areas, rooms with workstations, work-from-hotel packages (e.g., including snacks, technical support, printing, a meeting room for conference calls or presentations).
7. Authenticity Gains Importance in Hotel Marketing
This means more people than ever share experiences with friends, family and followers online. This user-generated content is becoming more critical in hotel marketing since potential guests see it as 2.4x more authentic than brand-created content.
8. Artificial Intelligence Becomes a Best Practice
In late 2022, generative artificial intelligence (AI) became widely accessible for the first time. Even its early-stage capabilities were already impressive. Tech vendors quickly began integrating AI into their software to offer hoteliers smarter, more powerful and intuitive tools. As a result, the travel and hospitality AI market is estimated to surpass the $1.2 billion mark by 2026.
AI-powered tools can save time, prevent errors and optimize business results. Examples include communication tools with personalized replies, revenue management systems for pricing optimization and marketing platforms that use guest data and demand insights to create targeted campaign recommendations.
Cut down on food waste through smart meal planning and purchasing, staff training and food donations.
Conserve energy and water via low-flow toilets, showerheads and energy-efficient appliances. This also helps reduce your utility bills!
Source products locally to cut back on transport emissions and support your community.
Key takeaway:Implement green measures step by step to reduce your carbon footprint and stay relevant for today’s sustainability-focused travelers.
Looking at these future trends in the hotel industry, the hospitality sector’s overall outlook for 2024 is promising. Challenges persist, guest behavior is changing, and tech innovations keep us on our toes. But that's a good thing. Stay ahead of these trends to boost bookings and revenue while establishing your property as an industry leader.