Non-traditional room types, multilingual concierges and ubiquitous personal service: these are the three trends that will most shape the hospitality experience at hotels of the future, predicts InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) in a new study published this week.
Conducted in partnership with travel technology company Amadeus, IHG's "Drivers of Change in Hospitality" report is based on a global survey of industry experts and more than 7,500 travel consumers.
"Modern expectations around travel continue to become more complex and sophisticated, with shifting consumer dynamics and increasingly intelligent technology pushing the boundaries of what is possible," said George Turner, IHG's chief commercial and technology officer. "IHG has proven itself to be pioneering and ambitious over many decades, and this paper offers perspective on how the hotel experience could further evolve in the not too distant future."
The first trend IHG and Amadeus observed is the demise of traditional room types based on occupancy - for example, single, double, twin, suite and family room. Sixty-one percent of global travellers prefer hotels that are priced in a way that allows them to add bespoke options onto their reservation. Instead of booking by beds, this suggests, guests of the future will book by experience, allowing them to pick and choose the individual components of their room. Fitness enthusiasts, for instance, might book rooms with yoga mats or treadmills, while those hungry for entertainment might prefer rooms equipped with streaming media services.
"New selling models will become more mainstream, too, with guests able to book a room for a length that suits their needs, rather than a traditional overnight stay," IHG observes.
Those who fear a future in which hotels are staffed entirely by robots need not worry, IHG and Amadeus report, as 67% of travellers say they prefer to interact with a person instead of a machine. That means hotels will need to strike a balance between being high-tech and being high-touch. One example that illustrates how they might do this is at the concierge desk, where IHG predicts the advent of human concierges who use real-time translation earphones and smart glasses to provide services to guests in their native tongue.
The symbiosis between technology and service also is evident in the third and final trend put forth by IHG and Amadeus, that of personalised hospitality. Traditionally reserved for guests of luxury and boutique properties, such hospitality will become ubiquitous across brands and segments, predict the companies, which assert that "hotels must understand individual guest needs on each trip, and offer a host of unique and unexpected surprises." Presumably, data will be the key that unlocks this capability, as the more information hoteliers have about their guests, the better they will be able to offer personalised perks, experiences and rewards that make them feel valued.
"We hope that this research will prompt industry debate and discussion as it demonstrates the significant opportunity that technology offers hospitality providers to enhance the guest experience, as well as their business," said Francisco Pérez-Lozao Rüter, Amadeus' president of hospitality. "At the same time, it highlights the importance of people. Equipping hotel staff with the insight to deliver richer, more informed interactions with guests is what makes for truly special hotel experiences."
"Drivers of Change in Hospitality" is available for complimentary download from IHG's website.