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​Engage and delight your hotel’s guests in 2017 by applying these emerging consumer trends

How can your hotel brand evolve to give customers the experiences they desire – to make a real, personal connection with those travelers in ways that foster true hospitality?

To answer that question, you need to know the trends that are shaping the way your guests interact with brands. We’re not talking about fads, fashion trends, or even technological innovations. The trends that will shape your guests’ buying habits in 2017 live at the intersection of consumer behaviors and basic needs. Understanding and acting on these trends is key to keeping your hotel brand relevant, both now and in the future.

We’ve partnered with TrendWatching, which tracks emerging consumer trends worldwide, to help hoteliers keep up with these shifts. Together we produced the highly-downloaded report, Consumer Mega-Trends Impacting Hospitality, and several deep-dive regional reports on consumer trends impacting your guests from Asia-Pacific and Europe & the Middle East.

And Maxwell Luthy, TrendWatching’s director of trends and insights, presented a live webinar in December that explored how these trends develop and why it’s so important for hoteliers to understand how these influence your guests’ behavior around the world.

"Tracking trends is all about understanding changing expectations,” Maxwell said. “Hoteliers can't afford to ignore these changes, as their guests will constantly heighten and alter what they desire and demand from businesses.

“In this webinar we explore some of the innovations (from Bahrain to Barcelona) and trends that are sending expectations to great new altitudes in 2017,” Maxwell said. “With mega-trends exploring shifts in how travelers seek information, embrace technology, seek status and demand to be treated (as an individual), this webinar is packed full of insights to help you succeed in the coming 12 months."

What’s the point?

While market research and voice-of-the-customer insights can give you part of the picture of what your guests want now, to better understand what you consumers will want in the future, hoteliers have to be aware of innovations outside the hospitality space that constantly re-frame and re-focus their guests’ expectations. These innovations will impact how guests expect hotels to deliver service. As Maxwell told hoteliers during his presentation, “You are not just competing with other hotel or hospitality brands. You're competing with the best-in-class in every sector.”

For example, Uber recently released data showing that after their service had been in a market for a year, consumers’ willingness to wait for a ride had decreased. Uber’s service had reframed those consumers’ expectations of urban transport.

And when half a billion people downloaded “Pokemon Go” this year, that game reframed people's expectations of social interaction – and created new opportunities for hoteliers to attract potential guests. And these expectations won’t be rolled back, even if those consumers don’t keep playing this game.

The consumer expectations created by innovations in other industries transfer to hospitality, and hoteliers who don’t keep up will find themselves fighting for attention and loyalty in an already competitive marketplace.

After all, we live in a world that’s constantly changing – socially, politically, culturally – and those changes never cease. New technologies disrupt commerce. New products make it easier, or more fun, to meet our needs for nutrition, companionship, travel, health and anything else we need to survive. But what doesn’t change are the basic needs that have been here since civilization began: a desire for community, for status, for convenience and for value.

And for hotel guests, there’s a more fundamental need: No matter what reasons they have for traveling, no matter their destinations, your guests want to feel that they belong when they walk into your hotel. Your guests want to feel that you truly know and understand them.

Put these trends to work

In this hour-long presentation, Maxwell details several real-world examples of trends with the power to redefine your guests’ expectations, sparking inspiration and ‘light bulb moments’ that can fuel brainstorms on applying these trends to your brand.

Each of the trends Maxwell presents – and all of those outlined in our Consumer Mega-Trends reports – can be applied to your business using Trendwatching’s Consumer Trend Canvas framework.

This chart allows you to see how your guests’ basic needs interface with changing expectations and the drivers of change in our industry, creating opportunities for innovation and strategic change within your brand.

How can your hotel partner with guests to meet those basic human needs? Can your hotel help guests improve themselves? Express themselves creatively? Make new friends? Enjoy an experience that nobody else can have – a unique sign of status in a world where status symbols are harder and harder to find?

The hotels that can put these trends to work, making them a part of the value they provide to guests, will be the brands customers love and trust this coming year, and in the years beyond.

Click here to watch the recorded webinar. And after you’ve seen Maxwell’s presentation, get a copy of TrendWatching’s Consumer Trend Canvas and start applying this learning to your own hotel brand’s campaigns, packages and services.

Hugh Fisher
Data storyteller
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