Believe it or not people did actually travel before the advent inexpensive long-haul flights. Exploration and adventure seem to be imprinted in the human DNA, along with creativity and imagination. Which is why a global pandemic will not curb our wanderlust, but it is making us think differently about why we’re traveling, where we want to go and how we want to get there.
A recent New York Times article imagines a return to scenes familiar from 1970s Hollywood movies, the family car stuffed to the gills with cases and equipment, over-excited children and pets. For the hospitality industry this is good news. It means a steady supply of tourists and travelers – although perhaps not the ones they used to expect.
We see three key considerations shaping the immediate future of the hospitality industry:
1. Stay Duration
Several new factors will shape decisions about the length of trips and vacations. Having proven the effectiveness of remote work, there’s less pressure to rush back to the office after five days of vacation. We may see increased desire for longer term stays that are a combination of work and pleasure. Business day trips certainly don’t make sense any more, and many will think twice about a weekend getaway if the destination is a full day’s drive there and back.
Even prior to COVID-19 the travel industry was experiencing increased interest in “micro-adventure” travel – the trend towards experiencing wellness and adventure nearby and sustainably. As the pandemic has underscored the links between environment, sustainable choices, and human health, we are likely to see accelerated interest in regional and local travel.
Hotel brands traditionally operate Business, Resort or Urban products differentiated on price. As people re-evaluate the purpose of their travel and the activities they desire to engage in, we are seeing brands reposition themselves to welcome guests with interests in common; family resorts, couples hotels, sports/activity resorts, or young solo travelers.
One thing remains constant, most travelers, regardless of age or purpose, are looking for meaningful, immersive, cultural, mind-expanding experiences – whether they stay close to home or venture further afield. These trends are shaping four exciting new hospitality offerings:
1. The Safe Haven
Self-contained resorts can offer the ultimate safe haven. Set in idyllic locations such resorts offer a respite from the challenges of daily life, providing a wide range of activities and services in a controlled environment.
2. The Business Blend
As companies re-evaluate need and purpose, business travelers are more likely to combine essential business travel with other plans, traveling less and staying longer. At the same time, as work increasingly takes place anywhere at any time, hotels can provide a welcome interlude and enhanced amenities for locals seeking a change of scenery.
3. The Staycation
As the “Weekend Away” becomes the “Weekend at Home” there is increased interest in local offerings that may offer a signature experience such as a spa escape featuring locally derived products, an immersive Italian cookery weekend with a local celebrity chef, or a tasting experience featuring local wines and spirits.
4. The GenZ Experience
90% of Gen Zers play some type of mobile or console game. Now aged between 13 and 22, they expect their virtual worlds to remain present in their physical environments. A new class of eSports hotels in Asia is already offering state-of-the-art in-room gaming and arena gaming facilities for a generation as at home in the World of Skyrim as they are on Earth.
As we continue to work with our clients to prepare for travel in the post-COVID era, we’ll be exploring each of the above scenarios in more detail. Stay tuned!
About the author:
Dr. Stéphane Lasserre joined B+H in 2005, having more than 24 years of project experience in mixed use, institutional, commercial, residential, healthcare and hospitality developments. As a LEED-certified chief designer and project director, he has led teams in master planning, architectural and Interior design projects throughout France, Canada, and Asia. His global experience has allowed him to take a fresh perspective on projects by considering how different cultures and social fabrics work and infusing his work with these varied views. Stéphane gets deeply involved with clients’ visions by participating in early strategic phases and programming to truly understand how unique design can make a positive impact.
Integrated parks and green spaces reflect a constant connection to nature in the city and this interaction infuses Stéphane’s approach. Understanding that solutions need to be holistic and reflect a multi-disciplinary approach, he believes that thoughtful design connects people, architecture, landscape and interiors. By creating cohesive places and spaces rather than simply providing isolated solutions, a development can serve its community for years and prove to be sustainable through well-thought out programs and long-term eco-friendly strategies.