Accommodations are a key part of any trip, and it's important to know exactly what your clients' expectations are for their hotel stay.
Going into 2024, there are some emerging hospitality trends that advisors may want to take note of. We asked three hotel general managers what those top hotel trends may be, and this is what they said.
Offering sustainable, local experiences
Sustainability has made its way into conversations about every aspect of travel. In hospitality, sustainability means both doing right by the planet and the local community.
"Doing this in a way that doesn't take away from the guest experience is especially important for luxury travelers, as guests want their experience to be enhanced rather than hindered by sustainability [and eco-friendly] initiatives," said Carlo Carroccia, dual manager of French Quarter Inn and The Spectator Hotel in Charleston, South Carolina.
Some ways that hotels have become eco-friendly are by using refillable toiletries and doing away with single-use plastics and other disposable packaging, while incorporating as many in recycled materials both in building new hotels and in operations. Other sustainability initiative examples from hoteliers include using eco-friendly packaging and products, and supporting local, sustainable businesses, including farms and restaurants.
Carroccia added that guests want to "connect with the local surroundings" and experience a genuine "sense of place," and therefore seek hotels that draw deep inspiration from the destination they are situated in.
"We will continue to see travelers looking beyond chain hotel groups and seeking out independent and boutique properties that connect on a personal level," said David Beaudoin, general manager at Lockwood Hotel in Waterville, Maine. "Guests will seek hotels with a personal feeling and ones with more unique design, furnishings, amenities as well as interesting restaurants that feature locally sourced products."
Beaudoin noted that guests will often seek local experiences such as "hiking, sightseeing, shopping, eating and activities that highlight the flavor of the local area." Guests also do not want to be seen as tourists, which makes it even more important for hotels to have partnerships with artisans, businesses, and organizations in the local community.
Balancing technology and human connection
Though the hospitality industry was initially slow to implement new technology, a shift is now taking place, and many hotels have implemented – or at least aspire to implement – high tech systems for operations such as bookings, check-in and check-out, room access and service, and more.
The term "high tech, high touch" has now made its rounds in the hospitality industry, reminding hoteliers that while advanced technology does create ease, it must be complemented by the human service that hotels are known for.
"Prioritizing the use of technology to enhance the guest experience is paramount," Carroccia said. "Striking the right balance between maintaining a genuine human connection with our guests and leveraging technology to enhance efficiency remains a top priority."
On the other hand, Lynette Eastman, general manager of The Surfjack Hotel & Swim Club in Honolulu, Hawaii, noted that some hotels may forgo certain technological upgrades in favor of keeping room rates low.
"Technology is important in all classes of hotels. Electronic door locks are a given as well as internet services available," she said. "However, there are some bells and whistles – such as hotel check-in apps, guest communication, and in-room control tablets – that may be something to pass on in 2024 in hopes for a competitive room rate instead for those hotels not investing quite yet in these technologies while the world continues to recover economically three years from the pandemic."
All in all, guests seek the most value for the price they pay at any hotel.
"Guests have grown highly discerning, finely attuned to the balance between price and value," Carroccia said. "Consequently, it is imperative for hotels to clearly and compellingly demonstrate value to guests, now more than ever."
Eastman agreed, noting "With economic challenges nationwide coupled with world events, guests are searching for hotels that offer a more affordable but quality experience."
This ties back to hotels forming partnerships to offer guests experiences with their partners in the community. Guests want the ease of access to the destination they are visiting, and hotels are the bridge that connect them to the people in that location.
"Hotels should prioritize cultivating a sense of approachability, actively guiding guests on ways to seamlessly integrate into the local community," Carroccia said. "This guidance should be intricately tailored to address individual needs and desires of each guest."