By Paul Barron, EVP Marketing, Partnerships & Commercial Operations, Hospitality, Amadeus
2022 is quickly drawing to a close – a year of evolution within the hospitality industry as restrictions have lifted and travel worldwide has surged back after more than two years of uncertainty. As demand for travel continues on a positive trajectory, travelers have high expectations for their long-awaited trips and expect hotels to provide smoother, cleaner, and more meaningful stays.
What will global travel look like in 2023, and how will our industry further evolve to meet these changing expectations? In a world where personal and societal concerns will be of utmost importance to travelers and technology will be bigger than ever as a driver of change, five powerful hospitality trends have emerged which will significantly impact the industry over the upcoming year.
New Experiences, New Dimensions in the Travel Metaverse
For some of us, the mysterious term “metaverse” might evoke images of virtual worlds visited and manipulated through gaming and other virtual reality platforms, but in reality, it has a much more comprehensive application. Traveler engagement including virtual concerts and exhibitions will be taken to the next level in 2023 with deeper cultural experiences. Virtual luxury cruise holidays or 3D virtual theme park visits will add to travelers’ pre-trip excitement, too, as will technological opportunities allowing people to “try destinations before they buy.”
Biometric Payment Solutions for Travelers
Whether we totally understand the processes of biometric voice, fingerprint, handprint, or facial recognition or not, the future of travel will certainly involve more advanced “fin-tech” (financial technology) systems of biometric payments, through services like ApplePay or GooglePay, by airports and other travel operators. As these technologies continue to evolve and risks due to personal security and data sharing are addressed, the process of checking in or dropping off luggage will become more streamlined, so travelers can enjoy a smooth and secure biometric payment experience that is not only contactless but convenient and efficient, too.
Lightening Travelers’ Loads with More On-Site Amenities
Gone are the days when travelers accept or even enjoy toting along multiple suitcases filled with any and every item they may need when traveling for work or pleasure. The increased costs associated with checking baggage along with travelers’ growing interest in supporting communities by purchasing essential items locally have had something to do with this shift in travelers’ attitudes about how they wish to travel.
More and more hotels and resorts, too, are hopping on board. Global brands such as Hilton, for instance, offer sports equipment, workout gear and the like for guests staying at their properties: a practice that will likely grow as customers continue to become aware of their global footprint and the joy of traveling lighter than ever before.
From Working at Home to Working from Anywhere
As corporate policies continue to accommodate the wishes of more individuals to work remotely, the concept of the digital nomad will evolve as remote workers spend time not just working outside the office, but working in other cities or even countries, too. More and more nations are offering special visas and other incentives to entice remote employees. Platforms like Nomadlist, where workers living and traveling around the world are able to find competitively priced remote work locations, let business travelers explore destinations that are best suited to their needs. Many of the largest hotel chains like IHG and Marriott feature packages and accommodations specifically designed for this type of remote worker as well.
Collaborating and Bonding Through Team Travel
Remote working isn’t the only trend when it comes to business travel. As teams have become more and more dispersed, the growing concept of team travel programs, designed to motivate team members and improve employee satisfaction, has gained traction. Strengthening relationships between team members will be key to maintaining company loyalty and unlocking creativity. The challenges that have arisen in terms of collaboration and team bonding and overall increased focus on the employee experience will drive this shift, creating more opportunities for hotels, Destination Marketing Organizations and meeting and event venues to take advantage of this increased demand, year-round.
The future of hospitality is one of innovation, with trends pointing toward an elevation of the remote work experience and corporate team travel; more technically advanced (and easier) methods of making payments; a new dimension of travel and exploration in an online world; and opportunities for individuals to “travel light” and immerse themselves in the cultures they visit through more local purchasing and amenities available at the hotel level. As travel returns, the outlook for 2023 is bright. Embracing and incorporating these trends into your own business strategies will enable you to inspire travelers and deliver more memorable experiences.