In order to avoid missing the mark, hotel trends have to give us something we actually need– especially when it comes to business travel.
Those of us working in the travel industry are constantly being bombarded with trends. Trends that influence how people are travelling, as well as trends that react to people’s travel habits. Buzzwords such as “Top Ten”, “Millennials” and “Bluxury” all promise to successfully predict the future of travel.
In particular, the hotel industry is particularly buzzy when it comes to trends. The rise of Airbnb, capsule hotels, subterranean hotels, in-house IT butlers, baby butlers, robot butlers….
But how do hotels anticipate which trends will take off? And do trends actually give us what we want?
I’ll give an example of a bit of a fail.
A friend of mine arrived at a luxury hotel in Dubai for a business trip. She checked in and headed up to her suite – only to find her face staring back at her when she swiped her room key and opened the door.
The hotel had taken her LinkedIn profile photo from online, blown it up to the size of an A4 piece of paper and framed it, so that it was the first thing she saw when she arrived.
It didn’t end there.
She walked into the lounge area of her suite and was amazed to see her LinkedIn portrait again – this time on the coffee table, plastered all over a cake.
The intention was obviously extremely well-meaning, and a response to the trend for social media-generated service. The property had extracted information from my friend’s social media profile in order to demonstrate that they’d made an effort to find out more about her, and personalise her stay. Unfortunately, the overall effect was slightly stalker-ish.
Had the hotel used her social media data effectively, they could have achieved the opposite effect.
We have less and less time to explain what we need
The next stage of business travel, will revolve around hotels using accurate predictive technology to proactively find out our needs, without having to ask.
For example, this hotel could have used analytics software to find out that my friend is actually a vegetarian, and therefore presented her with extra meat-free options at meal times, or the best places for vegetarian dining in Dubai.
Or they could have noticed that she’d posted on Facebook to vent her frustration at her delayed flight, and offered to see if there was anything they could do to help make up for the time she’d lost – perhaps by offering to press her suit for her for the next day, free of charge.
As business travellers we need trends to move things forward. We need trends so that hotels keep up with the pace of change and meet our changing business travel needs, and that inspire us along the way.
At the same time, we need trends that actually improve our journey on a practical level, not that just attempt to “woo” us. We need to stay somewhere that enables us to work and rejuvenate in our preferred way, and that helps us do things more efficiently. Unlike hedonistic leisure travellers, we’re in a particular place to serve a particular purpose, and our accommodation is a crucial part in helping us fulfil that purpose.
Something that will never go out of fashion, is a hotel that finds out what a traveller’s individual needs are throughout their stay, and makes sure they are fulfilled – whether it’s lending us an adaptor, or helping us figure out how to navigate an unfamiliar metro system. Attentive service and high-quality, functional accommodation will always be the main concerns of business travellers.
So, let’s not have trends for trends’ sake. Let’s hope we see plenty of hotel trends that help us to get our job done even more efficiently.
And, if they’re able to accurately predict what we’ll need during our stay, before we’ve even realised what we need ourselves, even better.
Freelance Travel Journalist – formerly staff writer for Business Traveller magazine
Has written for the Telegraph, The Sunday Times Travel Magazine, Lonelyplanet.com, Destination Weddings and Honeymoons Abroad, Travel Weekly, and several business travel publications. Shortlisted for Young Travel Writer of Year at the Travel Media Awards.
Rose will be speaking at Assist Travel which takes place this Friday in London. Places are still available for just £125+VAT. Please visit the website for more information and to book your ticket.