Five Hot Hospitality Topics for 2015
Top trends experts see defining the hospitality industry this year
Welcome to 2015. Now that the last of the office holiday trappings are back in cold (very cold for much of the country this week) storage, there’s a lot of buzz about how the next 12 months will shape up. Here are some of the top trends experts see defining the hospitality industry this year.
1. Will Cuba be back on the radar? This could be the hottest story of the year for hotel operators and designers. The opening of diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba would also likely open the floodgates of development/redevelopment in a market that many pundits see as having a thin supply of international standard hotels. Yes, there are some high barriers to entry ranging from problems endemic to aging infrastructure to condition issues for a number of older hospitality venues. As The Wall Street Journal points out, this is a market “dominated by small local operators and some European and Canadian chains, many of which offer all-inclusive packages.” But, there is also tremendous potential for both business and leisure travel. The article quoted Arne Sorenson, Marriott International Inc.’s chief executive, as saying this U.S. hotel giant “would look forward to opening hotels in Cuba.” A Hilton Worldwide spokesperson said this global powerhouse “would welcome the opportunity [to have a presence] in Cuba if the country establishes normal trade ties with the U.S.” Also on the list of interested new players are Kempinski Hotels, Choice Hotels International and Best Western International.
If relations are restored, designers should start pitching mid-tier concepts. Rick Newton, founding partner at Resort Capital Partners, told The New York Times, “What you’re going to get [initially] is a midmarket two- or three-star hotel experience from a remodeled hotel in Havana that will be cool for somebody from New York or Charlotte who wants to experience and think back to the Hemingway days. But, for a true five-star experience that will attract five-star customers who want five-star amenities, we’re at least a decade out.”
2. Hone a millennial mindset. Hoteliers’ millennial mania will only intensify in 2015. Designers will need to process how to match the demands of youthquake travelers with the operational realities of the individual hotels and large chains who all want a share of this growing travel influencer. HotelNewsNow editor-at-large Ed Watkins cited research from The Center for Generational Kinetics that predicted millennials will outspend baby boomers on hotels by 2017. The same article pointed to a forecast by MMGY Global that 24 percent of millennials plan to take more overnight trips in 2015 versus the previous year. So what does that mean for design? Here’s how Jason Dorsey, chief strategy officer for The Center for Generational Kinetics summed it up for Watkins’ story: “Millennials never stand in line…There will be no more lines, and the process of checking in, looking someone in the eye, answering the same questions you answer all the time will all change.” Speaking at Boutique Design New York last November, Carl Michel, executive chairman of Generator Hostels, foresees more design budget flowing into public gathering space where guests and locals can interact, and less on guest rooms.
3. High tech bathrooms. A study done by GROHE and Villeroy & Boch in collaboration with Zukunftsinstitut (the Frankfurt-based think tank) to determine how bathrooms might evolve by 2034 suggests that designers need to get in touch with their tech side. Some futuristic differentiators that could be become the new status symbols for the guest bath include: temperature settings and toilet height that automatically adjust to preset preferences; data collection points that help monitor health and physical conditioning; a transition from the bathroom as a place for “me time” to a space for inner growth leveraging the therapeutic benefits of virtual realities that can transform the space into a yoga studio or spa as well as programs that can be programmed to align with the guest’s biorhythms.
4. Big companies will get bigger, but specialists will continue to expand.. If you want to grow your business this year, target companies that can do the big deals. “Organic growth is a relatively slow way to expand, so hotel companies will be looking for opportunities to make quantum leaps. Typically, that will be by buying other hotel companies and driving more value through economies of scale,” says Russell Kett, chairman of global consultancy, HVS London. Relationship-building should be beyond operators to include the money men. Kett predicts this will be a year dominated by equity players, but insurance companies, hedge funds and high net worth individuals are also eyeing the market. The other pillar in development strategies is the niche brand. Whether citizenM or Hilton's Canopy, designers need to tailor their proposals to these expanding companies with narrowly defined primary markets and a laser-focused brand approach. You can hear from some of the movers and shakers from the operations and ownership sides at our upcoming trade fair and conference BDwestApril 8-9 in San Diego.
5. Sustainability, efficiency and innovation. Laser and 3D printing may not be huge factors yet, but advances like these will be rewriting the rules for what’s possible for textiles, accessories and even small casegoods in the near term. The future is about more than technology. Some trends discussed during Gettys’ Group Trend Briefing and Insights Session at BDNY include: the transformation of the lobby away from the formal check-in experience to a multi-functional social destination (think a neighborhood where people come together or the front steps of an urban townhouse); green as the sexy new face of luxury; customizable FF&B experiences; guestrooms with more open storage, open floor plans and no desks; storytelling that starts even before the front door and continues in unexpected spaces such as elevators and corridors.
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