Keeping up with trends is already a step ahead

Attempting to identify trends in a sector is first and foremost a confirmation that it is on the move and that we can decipher the directions it is taking. This constant adaptation to its environment, its market and its markets is an obvious characteristic of hospitality, which goes back to the dawn of time. If we wanted to work as historians, we could retrace the major stages in the evolution of merchant hospitality, undoubtedly one of the oldest commercial activities in trade between human beings.

Today, however, we find it more interesting to observe how hospitality knows how to interpret, how it knows how to incorporate all the current transformations in society into its design and operations.

We have chosen four main areas in which these trends can be seen and summarise this agility to evolve with the expectations of its customers or partners, and even to anticipate them with a certain audacity.

In itself, the emergence of new concepts already reflects a constant response to new behaviours and new needs. The trend is moving in two main directions: towards a more or less pronounced form of hybridisation of previously more uniform concepts, and towards the expert management of niches dedicated to an identified community. On the one hand, there is the choice of a hybrid offering to cover several segments. On the other, it means being recognised as the benchmark in a niche market.

As there is no one-size-fits-all solution to the needs of the hospitality industry, both responses are relevant if they remain coherent. And hotel groups with ambitions for broad-based growth need to become multi-experts - if not generalists or single-segment players - when it comes to knowledge of target customers and complementary businesses.

The evolution of design naturally accompanies these strategic choices and the emergence of new concepts or the transformation of older offerings. Today, hotel design has gone far beyond the simple aesthetic dimension to incorporate more vital notions of well-being, comfort, conviviality and identity into the design of spaces, their positioning and their equipment. More than ever, the space architect is taking over from the decorator, with a vision that is as much holistic as it is marketing.

Two other areas are driving the steady evolution of the world of hospitality: customer experience and social responsibility. These underlying trends are not new. They have been part of the vocabulary of our businesses for years, but one thing has changed in the way hoteliers approach them. Technology is enabling them to take a new step and accelerate their implementation.

The health crisis, in particular, and the increased interest in the sector shown by start-ups have acted as catalysts for new proposals for technologies that facilitate, improve and enrich the customer experience. Artificial intelligence makes it possible, and will continue to make it possible, to anticipate expectations and come up with new and original proposals. It is also already involved in a number of aspects of social responsibility, in preserving the environment by facilitating the management of energy resources, water and waste.

This review of the trends that are fuelling a steady transformation in the world of hospitality, by virtue of the very diversity of the avenues they explore, reveals a major element in the anti-fragility of our sector. It is said to be resilient, but it is undoubtedly more than that. It diversifies by capillary action, penetrating with a new offer into all the interstices of new human behaviours. It is this capacity to adapt that is its strength, but it does not rule out the disappearance of obsolete offerings. Economic Darwinism is a reality that cannot be hidden. If governing is about forecasting, deciphering trends before they overtake you is part of it.

Image courtesy of DALL. E

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