2021 Hotel Trends: What to Watch For
Deb Ward / JANUARY 07 2021

2020 was anything but normal in the hospitality industry. So, we have to ask ourselves: what does the 2021 traveler want? Staying on top of changing preferences, hotel managers can be sure their properties are relevant to today’s guests. Most of the trends seem to involve an evolution of current operations to address new sanitation procedures as well as following the local social guidelines. The hotel industry has to reinvent itself to cope with these new challenges and expand possible revenue opportunities.

There are some shifts in consumer behavior and different expectations for hotel concepts. Here are some of the trends we should be watching for:

  • Higher levels of safety procedures. Going above and beyond with protocols, outlining information about cleaning practices, safe activities, and a feeling of security. Safety is now a new luxury. Make sure information is available and visible to prevent any doubts before your guests arrive… and be sure to ask if they want additional or more specific information.
  • Personalized experiences. Hospitality has always been about creating a unique and memorable experience. Tailoring your services specifically to the needs and wants of your guest as well as providing a human touch helps you stand out. Ask what activities they have in mind when they arrive and what they like to do back home. Having this information allows you to craft unique packages to make their stay truly special. Keep track of the answers in the system for future visits.
  • Utilizing technology. Offer a contact-less check-in with self-service grab and go lobby food options. Have robots deliver requests for extra towels, shampoo, or room service. Smart rooms with wireless charging stations, digital controls for temperature, light, and power as well as tablet-based or voice-activated controls definitely beats the traditional binder on the nightstand to explore hotel services. Smart TVs for guests to stream their favorite shows are also leading the pack.
  • Partnering with local businesses. Provide options for guided tours, spa access, local sports opportunities, or a variety of classes. Go the extra mile with special experiences that are unique to your location.
  • Destination trends. Initially, guests may be looking to stay closer to home and utilizing safer ways to travel. Build your marketing campaigns and promotions around exploring local market segments, introducing new packages and services that focus on the benefits of traveling locally.
  • Sustainable accommodations. Many guests are interested in eco-friendly or “green” accommodations. They want to know that your company is a good corporate citizen, gives back to the community, and is concerned about the planet. Evaluate simple things you can do by partnering with local food sources and organizations that are focusing on improving sustainability in your area. Eliminate plastic containers and cutlery and provide recycle bins in the guestrooms. You might even follow Starwood’s lead and encourage guests to skip some housekeeping service in exchange for hotel credit or loyalty points.
  • Mobile booking. More and more, guests are completing their entire reservation on their phones or tablets. Make sure your site is “mobile-ready” and easy to navigate.
  • New experiences. Guests are buying less and doing more… they’re looking for new experiences, exotic cuisines, and novel activities. “Bleisure” is a new trend in the market – meaning blending work and vacation:  extending a business trip to allow for a few more days of leisure time. “Glamping” elevates a tent or a yurt to a high-end hideaway with comfortable beds and upscale décor. And don’t forget about “Staycations.” People are skipping the lines at the airport to enjoy a stay at a nearby hotel.
  • Solo and wellness travel. More and more guests are looking to travel solo. Some want the freedom to do whatever, whenever while others are looking for personal growth through a solo adventure. Wellness travelers are also looking for an enriching experience to attain a sense of well-being. You can take advantage of this trend by providing health and nutrition events, Outward Bound adventures, or a chance to develop a new skill.  
  • Utilizing video and virtual reality to market your property. Guests who want to take a virtual tour of the property or even the local area might enjoy having that option before they commit to a booking. You might even provide an interactive map to provide additional information. They can view the room, take a virtual tour of the hotel, the amenities, the dining room, etc.  You can promote events and upcoming attractions to tech-savvy visitors to generate interest and excitement.

Generic or impersonal hotel options will not survive in the future. There are so many upcoming trends, that to stay relevant, you need to identify who your target market is and what appeals to them the most. According to industry experts, these new trends in hospitality will completely reshape the way hotels are serving their guests as we move forward into the future.