By Iris Estrada

Sommet Education, the higher education group encompassing leading hospitality management institutions Glion Institute of Higher Education and Les Roches Global Hospitality Education, has released a report identifying the key trends to shape the hospitality industry in 2019.

The report titled “Top Trends in Hospitality for 2019” draws on the expertise of faculty members to examine shifts in consumer behavior and emerging trends in innovation, technology, luxury, sustainability, and food & beverage.

Although the report catered to guests of all ages, many areas paid special attention to the new era of luxury travelers.

According to World Data Lab, global Millennial spending power will overtake Gen X by 2020, creating a need to cater to the new generation of luxury travelers if brands wish to remain relevant. After all, their values and preferences have a significant – if not reigning – influence over today’s consumer tendencies.

Here are 5 key trends that the luxury industry should embrace when working to attract the new generation of luxury clients.

Adapting Your Luxury Brand Management

Heritage brands can no longer cling to their prestigious past while turning their backs to innovation. Instead, it is imperative brands find a way to balance legacy and modernity.

While an immediate way to embrace innovation is by adopting some of the leading trends in technology such as artificial intelligence, smart hotel rooms, and recognition technology – storytelling still plays a crucial role in attracting new guests and conveying value to consumers.

After all, the goal should be for brands to remain timely and timeless. Balancing tradition all the while effecting change is an essential innovation challenge for luxury brands.


Creating Unique Experiences

A recent study conducted by Harris Poll and Eventbrite found that 78% of Millennials say they would rather spend their money on experiences versus things. Within travel and tourism, this move away from material goods has guests looking beyond luxury accommodations to have a memorable stay.

Today’s young traveler is likely to seek authentic, local experiences rooted in culture, sustainability, and social responsibility – all of which can work together to meet guest expectations.

For example, locally sourced food and beverage options not only offer an authentic dining experience, but also appeal to young consumers’ sense of ethics.

With more people traveling than ever before, hotels also need to consider their diverse range of clients when aiming to deliver these unique experiences.

“Brands must be culturally aware and avoid alienating consumers through tone-deafness,” explains Dr. Nicoletta Giusti, Clinical Professor and Director of the MSc in Luxury Management and Guest Experience at Glion Institute of Higher Education.


Delivering Premium Omnichannel Service

Brands need to create a seamless transition between offline and online experiences to meet the needs of omnichannel customers. In the world of luxury hospitality, brands must find a way to deliver the same exceptional level of service through tech, that guests are accustomed to receiving from hotel staff.

For example, AI-powered chatbots and smart search results can provide online customers with useful travel recommendations when researching the property. Online platforms can also be used to provide luxury clients with the means to customize their stay.

“[S]mart uses of technology will save time, offer greater personalisation and enable businesses to anticipate guest needs, “The benefits of convenience and discretion are particularly relevant for business travellers, who value privacy and time-saving service,” says Marie-France Derderian, Senior Lecturer and Director of the MSc in Hospitality, Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Glion Institute of Higher Education.

“And although privacy concerns do exist, many customers are willing to entrust brands with some data in exchange for the benefits of convenience and personalised service.”


Embracing the Value of Human Interaction

Despite the rise of new technologies, luxury brands can’t ignore the value of the human touch in building customer relationships. In 2019, we see a heightened need for hotels to extend their offline experiences to deliver a bespoke experience while nurturing the personal relationships that build brand loyalty.

“From the hotel concierge who remembers a guest from a previous stay to the personal guide who reveals the secret corners of a city, human interaction remains core to the hospitality industry,” says Derderian.

This real-life interaction is crucial for brands to deliver an experience in which guests can feel both at ease and pleasantly surprised by service that goes above and beyond expectations. With experiences and authenticity being of such high value to Millenials, these shared moments of personal service could very well be the type of luxury modern guests crave.

Entering the Circular Economy

The Ellen MacArthur Foundation defines a circular economy as being “restorative and regenerative by design,” i.e. sustainable – a huge selling point for the green-minded Millennial guest.

A prime example of this ideology is the QO Amsterdam. This hotel features an exterior with thermal panels that react to the outside climate to conserve the energy needed to regulate indoor temperatures. It’s been designed with recycled materials such as carpeting made from 100% recycled yarn previously used in fishing nets. And to conserve water, QO has developed a greywater system which re-uses water originating from showers and sinks to flush toilets.

Scheduled to open in 2021, Norwegian hotel Svart’s will harvest enough solar energy to cover both hotel operations and the construction of the building, yielding a yearly energy consumption that’s 85% less than most modern hotels!

When it comes to sustainability, hotels need to step it up if they want to meet the moral standards of many modern guests. Low-flow toilets and asking guests to re-use their towels just won’t cut it anymore.