By Denise DeJulio, KCSAE Board Member
Travel - We all travel for work and for pleasure. Maybe you enjoy it and maybe you travel because your job demands it …..whatever the case, I think we can all agree that travel has changed significantly over the years. And I personally believe it has changed for the better! I was at an industry dinner recently and when I mentioned to the table that I did not have a cell phone when I started traveling for work – the look on their faces was priceless. All of a sudden I sounded like my parents talking about when they got their first color TV.
There is a major shift underway in decision-making and buying power – and it is changing the way we conduct business and it is changing the hospitality industry. As of 2019 Millenials have officially taken over Baby Boomers in the workforce and by 2025 they will account for 50% of all travelers in the US. Hotels are definitely working to appeal to this market and as a result, there are significant trends that we are seeing when we travel.
Technology is really at the core of our current and future travel – it is shaping the before, during and after experience. Seamless connectivity across all our devices is critical. Everything is smart these days – smart rooms, smart badges and smart phones that all connect to share information so getting what you want when you want is easier than ever. On the next frontier – facial recognition to unlock and give you access to your room (as well as check in for your flight), high tech cards that detect your presence and unlock your door before you reach it, a robot to deliver your room service. Or what about a drone to deliver your bags to your room. Perhaps you have already seen some of these things in your travels.
Real time has changed the hospitality industry – social networks such as TripAdvisor have had a major impact on service levels. There is more transparency and hotels must be able to respond quickly by engaging with customers and responding to their needs.
Competition is different now – competing with Airbnb for example, home sharing is not going away. Airbnb now offers more than 4 million places for guests to stay, and they have announced a partnership with Century 21 that will place it into the real estate industry as a builder and seller of houses. And on the other side of that – hotel brands are expanding into home sharing. The good news is that pressure from Airbnb as well as other competitors has pushed the industry towards better practices like adopting more creative and unique hotel properties distinctly different from the traditional hotel experience.
Sustainability and eco friendly practices are becoming the norm, cutting down on food waste – growing food onsite or sourcing food locally. Minimizing water usage by reusing towels and limiting changing the bedding. Conserving energy by removing coffee machines and mini-refrigerators in rooms and replacing with communal areas. Going paperless with no more copies of your receipt at check out. Eco friendliness is quickly becoming a must have for environmentally and socially conscious travelers.
If you want to check out a site in advance – you could put on your virtual reality goggles so you can sample the real thing before you get on a plane. Check out the menus, nearby points of interest. May save you some money in the long run.
Imagine if in the future - at the airport ,verses going thru the scanner and getting a pat down – you find yourself walking down a tunnel that sniffs, scans and sprays you and your bag to deliver a probability security score on you. Your bag will either go directly to your hotel or be placed in a locker for you to pick up. Your shuttle to your hotel will be driverless.
Future travel will be so different from today and will no doubt present fewer hassles. It is fun to think about how travel has evolved over recent years and what the future has in store!