Meeting Mentor Magazine

April 2024

Sneak Peek at the Hotel of the Future

Travel and hospitality experts at McKinsey recently got together to share their vision of what the hotel industry of the 2030s will look like, including how they will improve the guest experience, create a more motivated workforce, and help combat climate change.

Even with meeting and event metrics starting to come back to 2019 levels, nothing is quite same as it was pre-pandemic. Guests are more demanding than ever, but service levels are harder to maintain than they used to be due to economic realities and a dearth of workers. And many experts predict that this summer’s volatile weather is just a small sampling of what may be to come if individuals, businesses and government entities don’t do more to become more sustainable.

Global management and consulting firm McKinsey & Co. asked five of its travel and hospitality experts — Margaux Constantin, Vik Krishnan, Matteo Pacca, Steve Saxon, and Caroline Tufft — to weigh in on what they envision hotels of the 2030s will look and feel like in a video. Here’s some of what they see coming down the pike.

Guest Experience to Become Even More Customized

Customization and convenience were already in most hotels’ business plans, but the pandemic and its aftermath of “revenge travel” have only made the need to improve the guest experience more immediate.

For example, take the check-in line at the hotel front desk, which can become a bottleneck no one wants to experience when a flood of attendees hit the line at the same time when they arrive for their event.

That check-in line is going to disappear as hotels become more flexible in providing alternate check-in options, Tufft predicts. “You won’t have to wait until 4 p.m. to check in,” she said. The main savior for line-haters, Krishnan believes, will be an increasing adoption of hotels being able to assign rooms via a mobile app. Pacca adds that virtual reality also likely will be used to let guests check in before they even arrive at the hotel.

Hotels also will be using the data they collect in ways that go far beyond targeting specific demographics in email promotions, said Pacca. “The customization of experience, for now, is a rarity. I believe we’re going to see much more of that going forward: the intensity of the light in your room, the coffee you will find there, the installations in the bathroom, the shower and so on.” Tufft agreed, saying, “I can see there being scope for even more of that [trend toward offering wellness in spas]: everything from how they evolve their menus to how they think about the use of light and technology in the room.”

Even the guest room will become more flexible, said Saxon, as hotels use automation to convert a guest room from a daytime meeting space to a relaxing sleeping environment.

Unique experiences are another way hotels will make guest stays more interesting and inviting, especially for the younger generations who crave unique programming, they said.

Sustainability on the Rise

While many hotels have been going all-in on sustainability over the past decade or more, the trend will only continue as we move into the 2030s, the McKinsey experts said. This will mainly be driven by increasing consumer demand for hotels to become more sustainable in everything from “the materials from which hotels are built, the way the food is processed and served, and so on. Sustainability will be a big segmentation factor for winners and losers,” said Pacca.

Technology will play a big part in this new wave of sustainability in hotels, said Saxon — especially when it comes to guest rooms. “Hotel rooms will have sensors to know: Is there a person in the room? And if so, what is the person doing? Therefore, what does that mean we need to do in terms of temperature control? Because the largest source of energy usage in a hotel is the HVAC systems.”

Attracting and Retaining Quality Staff

“The hotel of the future is going to have to be a responsible employer,” said Krishnan. “Hospitality is about experience. Most of the experience is delivered by people — and people can only deliver a fantastic experience if they’re happy, relaxed, well paid, and well trained. So, winning will also be about the capability of attracting and retaining the best talent to give the best experience to guests,” added Pacca.

What do you think the hotel of the 2030s will look and feel like — and how does that compare to what you think will really happen? Share your thoughts by emailing sue.pelletier@conferencedirect.com.

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About MeetingMentor
MeetingMentor, is a business journal for senior meeting planners that is distributed in print and digital editions to the clients, prospects, and associates of ConferenceDirect, which handles over 13,000 worldwide meetings, conventions, and incentives annually. www.meetingmentormag.com

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