The hospitality sector is changing fast. Today, personalisation and experiences are old news and we’re seeing new trends emerge, driven by some of the world’s top hospitality entrepreneurs such UK-hotel group Dominvs founder Sukhpal Singh Ahluwalia, Airbnb founder Brian Chesky, and Indian-based OYO Hotels entrepreneur, Ritesh Agarwal.
But in a sector where the competition is always tough, and margins are always tight, there are four stand-out trends emerging right now that offer new opportunities for startup founders to pivot or combine into their current business.
The customer journey from home to
Over the last year or so, there’s a renewed focus on business travellers and this has highlighted the part of a trip that causes the most pain and delay: the journey from your home to the hotel and vice versa.
We all know, especially if you’re flying to your destination, that this is the part that can keep us awake at night. What if the taxi doesn’t arrive? What if the plane or train is cancelled? But similar anxieties apply if you’re staying in the same country, or your journey to the hotel is relatively short. It always feels a little bit like a lottery.
Right now, there is a growing recognition that all travellers, not just the ones on business trips, want a solution that takes this pain away, and tech may have the answer. Individual
A couple of years ago there was a lot of talk about integrating voice tech into hotel rooms and some of the big chains have made great strides in this area. Marriott and Hyatt, for example, are using in-room voice tech but this is largely giving guests access to existing standalone platforms such as Google Assistant or Amazon Echo. The push is understandable when you consider the take-up figures: according to Voicebot, more than 50m people in the US own smart speakers.
But this leaves a gap in the market for ambitious entrepreneurs focussed not on chains with mega-bucks, but on smaller hotel groups or individual hotels. And there is a lot of scopes here. Voice tech in the hospitality sector has, to date, been concentrated purely on integrating standalone voice assistants in the room.
But statistics show that 64% of voice-assistant users prefer to access it through their smartphone. This leaves the game wide open. Every element of a room could one day be operated via your mobile, so the race is on to create tech that will form the basis of the smart-room of the future.
Sustainability and employee tech
Last year, a research report found that close to 90% of all travellers would
This is great news for startups. One of the key growth areas over the coming few years will be the drive to create a high-quality, white-label, affordable solutions including plastic alternatives and in-house recycling systems developed directly for the unique needs of hotels. Another area that’s ripe for startups is low-cost energy and water management tech platforms for hotel buildings.
And finally, and most importantly, there is a pressing need for bespoke tech to allow employee appraisal, feedback and communication with hotel management, but also, vitally, with guests too. We’re entering an era where guests will want to communicate with
Finally, we come to robots.
They will do the repetitive chores such as basic cleaning, delivering food to the room and acting as information points, this much is obvious. But we live in an age where guests are becoming more aware of the jobs that may be lost to these robots, so it’s possible that alongside the rise of the robot we’ll start to see the rise in customer service staff, and experiences led by humans.
A good hotel is one of the only places left where the interaction with a human being contributes a huge amount to the overall experience. I think that we’ll always be loathed to go to a hotel where the only real, live person we see is standing at the check-in desk. That’s why many believe that we’re on the cusp of seeing a new demand by guests for human-led experiences at
These are just four trends that are coming up on the rails in the hospitality sector. They all include new opportunities and ideas for startups to use, and they could, if you’re in there early, help you secure the investment you need to succeed.