Tuesday, September 21, 2021
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What is shaping the future of the hospitality industry?

There is something that we can all agree upon and this is the vast and unforeseen impact the COVID-19 sanitary crisis has had on all our lives.
The hospitality, travel and tourism sectors have been hit hard but we can’t ignore the impact on society. Consumer behaviour and eventually consumer spending have been, and will continue to be altered and business plans need to adapt to these new circumstances.
We take a closer look at how hospitality companies will need to realign their businesses to deal with the current needs and desires of the market and offer some suggestions which we consider will be fundamental for hotel developers and investors to bear in mind when planning new hotel projects.
We consider whether these changes will be permanent or just temporary. Whatever the final outcome, those businesses willing to consider alternative scenarios and re-consider their planning strategies will be better prepared for the “New Future”.
The corona virus pandemic will remain in our collective memory for generations to come due to its devastating impact at different levels on the global economy. With continuing government assistance and the support of financial institutions, commerce will continue to push forward and get beyond the crisis. Overcoming economic crises is not a new thing. Where there’s a will, there’s a way.
However, there is another important element that all companies, in particular those linked to the service sector, will need to manage as business and commerce deal with the post-COVID world – the social aspect. We must all now adapt to new rules, standards and values which have and will continue to influence our social behaviour, and hence our behaviour as consumers, especially as consumers of travel and tourism services.
The closures of boundaries, lockdown measures and travel restrictions have forced the hospitality sector to live through its worst results in recent history. Financial loss and hotel closures have been all too commonplace, creating a level of uncertainty that most have never experienced.
But we must force ourselves to look ahead and get ready to confront the new environment that is emerging. It won’t be easy nor swift, but the industry has often shown its resilience and capacity to rebound from unexpected scenarios and is blessed with a solid backbone. The question that arises now is how to adapt to the factors that are shaping the future of the hospitality industry.
The social impact is clear to us all and has forced changes in the way we live. Daily routines such as working practices, shopping habits and even interpersonal relationships have been altered, influencing and changing our behaviour. The hospitality industry will need to bear these new trends in mind if it is to experience a renaissance and continue to thrive. Projects under development will also need to reconsider their planning and business models and adjust to the new needs and demands of consumers.
This article analyses how the pandemic has changed some consumer behaviours and attitudes and how these may affect the world of hospitality in the future. Of course, consumer behaviour is always in a state of flux, but we need to stop and reflect on whether we are living through a period of permanent or only temporary change. We also need to resist the temptation to believe that things will go back to “normal”. We have classified seven different categories of changing consumer behaviours that we believe will also have an impact on hospitality, as well as on travel and tourism in general, and that are worth considering as we all look for ways to respond to the market and position ourselves for success.
Health and Safety
Consumers will pay more attention to the different security, hygiene and health procedures that establishments are implementing. Google searches related to health terms in the last year have increased considerably, reaching peaks in March 2020 and January 2021. In order to gain the confidence of consumers, firms will need to be both transparent and reliable.
The United Nations has emphasized the importance of mental health and wellbeing, particularly given the extreme scenarios of isolation and loneliness derived from lockdowns. Many of us will be placing special emphasis on our wellness and wellbeing, such as in-house exercise and sports, fresh and organic food, nutrition, self-care, regular medical checks etc.
Many consumers will be prioritizing expenditure on basic products and will focus on leisure goods due to decreased purchasing power as a consequence of a rise in unemployment. Consumers will opt for better quality products or known brands. There will also be more pre-planning and less spontaneous purchasing.
Digitalization
Online webinars and meetings as well as usage of platforms for teleworking are now fundamental components of our working habits. Home delivery services, contactless payments, medical appointments through videoconference, online purchasing or even the development of a “COVID Radar App” all point towards an accelerated era of digitalization.
The sanitary crisis has forced many businesses to implement telework as part of their new procedures. In most cases remote working has been efficient and productive both for the employee and the employer. On the positive side, employees believe some of the benefits of teleworking include, but are not limited to, reduced stress; work-life balance optimization; flexible time schedules; and commuting time savings. Employers have also noticed better productivity, reduced costs associated with physical offices, decreased staff absenteeism and better use of technologies. As tele working has proven to be successful it looks like many organizations will maintain this concept as a definite or hybrid alternative for workers.
Tourism &Travel
According to a survey undertaken by Booking.com, travel restrictions during this crisis have led to new ways of looking at travel and tourism by consumers. Some of the emerging trends when considering travel activities include: “greener” destinations, trips closer to home leading to an increased use of private transport, the possibility of working remotely and rural tourism.
Sustainability
Before the pandemic, sustainability was already a key topic addressed by individuals, companies and worldwide organizations such as the United Nations. Consumer behaviour will be more orientated towards reduced and conscious consumption and minimal waste. Sustainable products, responsible brands, eco-friendly policies, ecological products and environmental concerns will gain greater interest in the future.

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