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At the beginning of each year, researchers, trend watchers and industry experts put their pens to paper to jot down their predictions for the year. There’s a huge amount of information – some of which is really interesting, some of which is crystal ball.
If you put all the words on trends together, they would stretch around the Equator three times. Three times!
Ok. So, we made that bit up, but there are predictions on emerging trends for every single industry. Every sector. Every imaginable aspect of your life – what you eat, what you wear, how you’ll organize your life…
Earlier this year, we created an Infographic of all the most interesting and relevant trends for the hospitality industry. We had to cut out a lot, so below in this article, we bring you a fuller picture, including insights that ended up on the cutting room floor.
Sonia Tatar, CEO of Les Roches International School of Hotel Management, takes a look at the current state of the hospitality industry and shares her views on some of the predicted industry trends for 2015 and their implications for hospitality education.
In an industry as dynamic and diverse as hospitality, it can prove challenging to stay ahead of latest developments, let alone predict future trends. Nevertheless, educators have to keep a close eye on the direction the sector is moving to tailor their programs accordingly, and make sure they equip graduates with the relevant knowledge to advance their careers. With a new and exciting year ahead, let us review predicted trends and their possible impact on our curriculum.
Shifts in the Global Economy
According to the latest UNWTO World Tourism Barometer, international tourist arrivals reached a record 1.14 billion in 2014, an increase of 4.7% over the previous year. Hospitality will continue to be one of the most dynamic sectors in the world, predicted to support one in 10 jobs around the world by 2023. According to data from the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), the first three quarters of 2014 saw strong double-digit growth of arrivals in several markets in the Asia-Pacific region—among them Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, Sri Lanka and Myanmar.
While some of these markets are seasoned tourism destinations with excellent infrastructure, others only recently became accessible to the average traveller. Their growth and increased demand for talent mean greater opportunities for Les Roches graduates.
Online booking and online travel agencies (OTA) have been celebrated as the newest innovation in travel, reaching more than UD$278 billion in bookings in 2013, according to The Economist. Hotels have struggled to address online peer reviews and comments, but in 2015 will reconsider their business models and the very meaning of hospitality in an effort to identify new customers, niches and areas of growth.
The recent shift in consumer behaviour brought forth a younger, tech-savvy and cost-conscious clientele, demanding different services than traditional hotel companies offer. This led to the appearance of new brands such as citizenM Hotels, directly targeting this demographic, and made existing companies extend their brand portfolio as Marriot did with the creation of Moxy Hotels, a joint venture with Swedish furniture maker, IKEA.
The opening of the first Virgin Hotel in Chicago and National Geographic’s announcement about its launch of 26 boutique hotels add a fresh dynamic to the business. Both brands have developed new strategies and tailored their business models for today’s traveller.
For educators, these trends offer rich, real-world examples that our students may learn from; we must continue to consult with industry partners to ensure that we incorporate all relevant and current innovations into our curriculum.
As hotel companies have become more active on social media, they seem to have found a preferred partner in Instagram. The enhanced photo sharing platform is widely popular—users often post images of their travels, be it the view from the window of the airplane, a dish at a fancy restaurant or a picture of their hotel room. This user-generated content may then be reposted on a hotel’s corporate page, generating visibility among other users.
Hotel companies have even begun to offer small services, such as free drinks or discounted spa treatments if guests use a suggested hashtag for their pictures, linking them automatically to the hotels’ online presence and utilising clients as brand ambassadors.
The shared economy reached the hospitality industry with a bang in 2014: Airbnb generated 10 million overnight stays and reached 800,000 listings worldwide. The platform brings together locals who rent rooms and apartments to travellers looking for alternative accommodation. It was awarded Company of the Year 2014 by U.S. business magazine, Inc. After pressure from the hospitality industry, initial regulatory and fiscal uncertainties have been mostly settled and the rules established across regions ensure fair competition between professional hoteliers and private parties offering accommodation.
The coming year sees the trend extending to cuisine, predicting a similar growth in popularity for peer-to-peer dining. The same concept applies; locals invite outside guests to their dinner tables to share home-cooked meals, creating a culinary experience.
Platforms for sharing experiences like these already exist (e.g. EatWith.com) but the trend has yet to take off. That said, it is still a notable change in the industry that could form a new business model for our entrepreneurial graduates.
Spa and health continues to be one of the fastest growing sectors in hospitality, reaching an estimated growth rate of 9.1% between 2013 and 2017, as forecasted by the Global Wellness Summit. With wellness more accessible and on the rise, consumer preferences are constantly evolving and bringing new trends to the industry:
Consumers are increasingly educated and conscious about their own health, asking more questions and growing more demanding when it comes to results of spa services, expecting them to last beyond the application of the treatment. They increasingly ask for tips to incorporate in their own routine.
Men are becoming more open to the spa experience, as they realize the benefits, and they too are increasingly health conscious. The industry reacts with new targeted, manly sounding services such as sports massage and executive massage.
With many business travellers recognising spa treatments as stress relievers, spas need to adapt to their busy schedule by offering express treatments. They should also rethink their hours, offering treatments from as early as7 a.m. and during lunch, and by staying open until late at night.
In 2012, participants of the Global Wellness Summit expressed concerns about a growing skills shortage for qualified talent in the spa sector. Les Roches responded with the launch of a new specialization in Spa and Health Management for its Bachelor in International Hotel Management, providing in-depth expertise for hospitality students who wish to launch a career in this industry.
As leading educators in the area of hospitality management, we at Les Roches accept our responsibility towards students to track industry developments and update our curricula accordingly. New hospitality sectors are constantly emerging and global markets shifts and technological innovations form an integral part of any global business today. It is our mandate to ensure our graduates are on top of these trends in order to meet today’s hiring needs of the industry and get a head start when joining the professional world.
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