The Top Hospitality Industry Trends of 2018

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We may only be a week into 2018, but trends in the hospitality industry have been emerging since last year. Which will stay relevant in the new year, and which will fizzle out? Only time will tell!

In the meantime, check out some of the hottest topics and biggest trends set to take center stage in 2018.

Hotels Go High-Tech

With the advent of Airbnb and other home-sharing options, hotels are competing in a crowded space. In 2018, customization will be key. Experience-based hotels that incorporate technology are on the rise, allowing guests to customize their experience to be as much like home as they’d like (or not!)

‘Smart’ hotels will be huge in 2018, allowing guests to use personal tablets to control everything from room temperature to food service orders. Smart hotels will also employ automated technology, such as blinds that open and close depending on the position of the sun, walls that ensure optimal room temperature, and furniture that acts as a power source for guests who desire 24/7 connection. And expect to see more streaming services offered, such as Netflix and Amazon.

Hotel designs will change, too: gone are the days of the cookie cutter room. Hotel guests in 2018 may be delighted to find unique touches that remind them of home, with kitchenettes, diverse wall treatments, fabrics, textures, and furniture on the rise.

Lobbies will also see design upgrades, moving away from the standard check-in counter to more hospitable sofas with iPads (perhaps even freeing up guests to sip a beverage as they wait).

Finally, health-conscious upgrades like gyms, spas, retreat areas, and air/water purification systems will explode in 2018.

The bottom line is this: to grow and thrive as digital platforms, big hotel chains are moving away from the hotel owner model and towards investment in branding, marketing, and tech-related functions in 2018.

Fighting Food Waste and Going Green

Energy conservation and sustainability are hot topics across many industries, so it’s no surprise that the hospitality industry has decided to focus its 2018 efforts in this area.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) estimates that the dollar amount of food waste (excluding fish & seafood) is $750B annually. Therefore, finding creative ways to reduce waste through food consumption is key. In 2018, this could mean using less-than-perfect fruit to make juice, or snack bars made from spent grain in the beer-making process. It could also apply to ‘nose-to-tail’ cooking, which many restaurants are adopting, meaning they find use for ALL parts of an animal in the meal preparation process.

Finally, expect to see more eco-friendly practices pop up in more hotels and restaurants, as establishments employ the use of natural light, solar panels, recycled wood, organic materials, locally handcrafted items, and repurposed furniture.

Data Will Drive Businesses to New Levels

The hospitality industry has seen a steady adoption of data-mining for years, but 2018 will be a turning point as to how they use it. Data will impact every area of operations, from marketing to menu suggestions to purchasing to production.

Restaurateurs and hoteliers alike will use data primarily in order to achieve a level of personalization that sets them apart. Employers who are able to capture customer data at multiple points throughout their journey in 2018 will be better prepared to pivot their strategy and plan for the future of their business.

Using data to determine a core customer profile will be key to gaining traction in 2018. Once employers know who their core customer profile is, they can better market to them, which will be a core piece of restaurant strategy this year.

One tactic you can expect to see more of is tapping into a micro-influencer network: people in a community with a few thousand to 10K followers on social media who can assist in evangelizing a brand (after all, 80% of people trust a recommendation from a friend or family member!) Another popular tactic will be geo-targeting, in which ads are served up to target demographics by location, which leads to higher engagement and a better return on investment.

Brands will also make the move to cloud-based systems in their workspace to capture employee data and tap into their workforce. For example, Harri’s biometric time clock enables employees to leave feedback upon clocking out. This type of data-mining from the “front lines” of a business is invaluable in determining how customers are receiving things like menu changes, specials, business hours, and more.

Across the Pond

We’re a global company, so we stay up-to-date on hospitality happenings across the world - and right now, everyone is talking about Brexit. Many factors are contributing to the potential restaurant disaster due to Brexit: qualified staff are too many years away, quality ingredients are becoming too expensive, and high-ranking employees are stepping away from brands. The establishments that want to survive will have to stay on top of trends and innovate. The risk of closure is currently very high: as many as 20% of restaurants in the U.K. could close due to Brexit.

So, let’s talk 2018 trends that can remedy this issue. Lunchtime visits in the U.K. were down 80M in 2017, while breakfast spend increased 31% compared to 8 years ago. Therefore, expect a breakfast revolution! Street food will also continue to revolutionize city centers, with more than 2.5M people eating it every day. Events welcoming and promoting street food vendors will also be on the rise - like London’s Camden Market and the British Street Food Awards.

Similar to the U.S., healthier eating will see an uptick with ‘Veganuary’ (in which people commit to eating a Vegan diet during the month of January) and the rising popularity of local produce. Finally, of course, ‘Instagrammable’ foods (a.k.a. the colorful blue lattes and purple cheesecake you see on your Instagram feed) will continue to be popular in the new year. 

What are your predictions for the new year?