Trends in hospitality expectations: 2018

8 minute read
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We were recently invited to speak at a conference on traveler trends and decided we’d take a look at what’s new with travelers in 2018. What do they want? What are some of the trends in consumer demand and expectations? And how are brands evolving to accommodate these changing expectations?

The following is a short summary of that presentation.


Changing Traveler Demands

Digital Nomads - 100% mobile and remote, “Digital nomads” are a new type of global citizen, one with a hunger for new experiences from travel brands.

  • Rather than the “traditional” goal of owning a home filled with 2.5 children and a nice car, millennials are dreaming about freedom. 
  • They are willing to go further, while staying more connected.
  • Digital Nomads strive to immerse themselves in community and culture. 
  • They have the ability to create content. 

A recent study has revealed that two-fifths (40.1 %) of millennials choose a travel spot based on its ‘Instagrammability’. - JWT 


Embracing Diversity and Inclusion

Not taking a stand is no longer ok.
Airbnb, Expedia and Budweiser have all taken a stand with ad campaigns about inclusion and tolerance. How does your hotel let guests know what you believe in? What is your brand willing to stand up for?


Experience (R)Evolution

Let’s take a look at how brands are evolving to meet these changing needs and expectations.

If we received a penny for everytime a travel industry executive talked about how consumers are looking for “experiences,” we’d be billionaires by now. - Skift Megtrends

Experience-based travel is not a new concept, it was one of the hottest trends in 2017. Experiential travel is still desired, but it has now spread so widely in the travel ecosystem that it’s readily available to travelers outside of the luxury category, thereby losing its exclusive edge. Today, experiential travel needs to be personalized to the individual.


Experiences in 2018 - Extreme authenticity and challenge

Some brands are focusing on providing experiences rooted in culture and exploration and in turn, travelers are going the distance to find them. Comfort takes a back seat to this inner journey to self-discovery. For example, an ocean research company offers diving trips to explore the Titanic. This is a luxury trip in that costs $100K for a once-in-a-lifetime experience, however, it’s not about luxury in the traditional sense. It’s about challenge and experiencing something life-changing rather than pure comfort.  


How are brands adapting?

Focusing on experiences
Hyatt Hotels: Wellness
Hyatt is taking the concepts of wellness and “adjacent spaces” very, very seriously by staying focused on various ways to bring the concept of mindfulness to life for their guests.

Cruise Operators
Carnival and Royal Caribbean Cruises are building out their technology to better personalize cruisers’ experiences to make the trips more meaningful and frictionless. For example, they have implemented RFID bracelet allowing guests to customize their journey and get away from the mass experience off the boat. The bracelet tracks the guest’s journey and behaviour, creating a deeper customer profile than previously possible. Guests can also purchase products and services with the device (collecting data) which can be used to recommend other options that align with the guest’s profile. 
In 2019, Disney will open a Star Wars theme park and hotel in Orlando, dubbed their most experiential concept ever.


Luxury Pop-Up Accommodations

Blink and you’ll miss it - A new division of Black Tomato boasts experiential travel “so private and untouched that no one else will have stayed there before and never will again in the same way”. Luxury travel brands are designing these various unique pop ups in their regions of operation as fully customized vacations (e.g. ski, scuba, etc.)

Augmented Hospitality

You’ve got a bigger role to fill - The biggest advantage hotels have today is the ability to deliver a true sense of community; to be the gathering place for locals and guests alike, a place to be “alone together.” Beyond the overnight guest experience, the hotel of the future has a bigger role to fill as a community hub; to be an everyday problem-solver for locals and act as a place to find community in the true sense. 


High tech meets high touch

Customization and personalization
Hotels can now monitor what guests are talking about in real-time, but also set up alerts for specific events, such as birthdays, honeymoons or other celebrations to better connect with their guests and help address any issues that may arise. 
U by Uniworld Cruises - 100% geared towards millennial cruisers. At $250 per day, this Instagram-worthy experience is affordable yet still offers an upscale feel with adult amenities. European luxury cruise lines are now offering six unique cruise experiences geared towards millennials with a focus on food, curated off-ship excursions, fun locations and socially-designed ships