Envisioning hotels of the future

The best hotels will have zero pain points, efficient data use, and deploy happy Gen Z staff.

Zero check-in lines at hotels which will expect the biggest growth from non-English speaking, developing markets.
Zero check-in lines at hotels which will expect the biggest growth from non-English speaking, developing markets. Photo Credit: Adobe stock/Who is Danny

Hotels of 2030 will be highly efficient and sensitive to traveller needs. McKinsey’s Travel, Logistics & Infrastructure Practice experts, Margaux Constantin, Vik Krishnan, Matteo Pacca, Steve Saxon, and Caroline Tufft, shared what they envision the hotel experience will embody in the 2030s. Among the top characteristics of future hotels are convenience and customisation.

Creative data application

It is anticipated that every single pain point will be removed in the future. Check-in lines will not exist and there will be much better, more flexible options where guests need not wait until check-in time to get into their rooms, said Tufft.

Pacca said: “If you think about it, we use data in hospitality very, very little. We can customise emails, we can customise promotions - but the customisation of experience, for now, is a rarity. I believe we’re going to see much more of that going forward: the intensity of the light in your room, the coffee you will find there, the installations in the bathroom, the shower, and so on.”

Saxon said the biggest growth in travel will come from developing markets and these would not be the hotels’ core markets at present. Most of these travellers will not speak English. Hence, every hotel should have a mobile app that can automatically translate many languages.

Enhanced programming

Constantin said how hotels think about programming will be quite critical: “What is appealing to the younger generation is this notion of a unique experience that is not replicable and that is one moment in time. For example, there might be a hotel that’s hosting a yoga retreat with some famous teacher, and it’s only for one week - and so you want to go there.”

Adding to that point, Krishnan said: “The reality is that younger generations actually want differences. They want their hotels to reflect the environment and the location in which they’re physically situated, as opposed to having a sense of sameness. So, how can hotels integrate local elements? I think that is going to become pretty important as well.”

Creative rooms

Whilst hotels have enhanced spas and other wellbeing experiences, there will be scope for more: everything from how they change their menus, to how they use light and technology in rooms. With virtual reality, 3D glasses, and other technologies, guests can test hotel rooms before they choose a venue. These will be much more immersive than they are currently.

Hotel rooms will have automation - where furniture moves around and can be converted to a variety of uses. In the day, it can be for meetings or parties, and at night, the room can change into a place to sleep.


It will be imperative that hotels show respect for the environment. The demand for sustainability will cover everything: the materials from which hotels are built, how food is processed and served, among others. Sustainability will be a big segmentation factor for winners and losers.

Gen Z employees

As hotel jobs are tough and not highly desirable, finding creative ways to sustain young employees’ impatient traits are key. Said Constantin: “There’s a big thing with Gen Z around exploration of alter egos - it’s the fundamental belief that ‘I’m more than just one person.’ The younger generation of employees ideally would be, for example, a concierge on Monday. They would be a waiter on Tuesday. On Wednesday, they would be working from home, managing the social media community of the hotel. On Thursday, they would be back doing concierge work. Then they wouldn’t mind doing Friday evening room service.”

Pacca added: “Hospitality is about experience. Most of the experience is actually delivered by people - and people can only deliver a fantastic experience if they’re happy, relaxed, well paid, and well trained. So, winning will also be about the capability of attracting and retaining the best talent to give the best experience to guests.”