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3 Travel & Hospitality Trends in 2024

  • Prominent trends in the travel and hospitality sector
  • How travel and hospitality tech founders can leverage and support these trends

Both Forbes* and Fast Company report that some emerging trends for 2024 is that travelers are seeking authentic experiences through:

  • Longer itineraries in one city or region to delve deeper into a location as opposed to whirlwind stops in multiple cities
  • Connecting with locals through learning experiences such as culinary tours, guided special-interest activities, or bespoke itineraries
  • Giving back to their destination by booking accommodations that are sustainable or making regenerative tourism (leaving a place better than it was found) a part of their lifestyle

In their global study of 27,000 travelers for their 2024 travel predictions, similarly reported that:

  • 56% are interested in less touristy spots
  • 61% are more interested in learning about the origins of a destination’s delicacies
  • 53% are looking for an accommodation with sustainability innovation

What do these consumer-facing travel trends mean for travel & hospitality tech founders? Well, if hotels and other travel/hospitality providers want to concentrate on providing high-touch service to accommodate these sophisticated travelers, then they’re going to need technology to streamline day-to-day, backend functions.

Technology could also help with ESG and sustainability goals as well as anticipating and personalizing service to digital native customer expectations. Let’s look at some of these backend technological trends that are bubbling up as things to consider in 2024 to transform the front of the house.

AI to Free Up Front Office Staff

Deloitte surveyed 120 hotel general managers, 57% of whom said they expect technology to boost the bottom line due to improved traveler experiences, and traveler preferences have shifted in the same direction with a large share of travelers of all ages becoming more comfortable with blended human and digital touchpoints, compared to 2019.

A previous article addressed contactless check-ins and payments, but here’s another aspect of guest services that can be automated to free up staff for more direct customer interactions: automated messaging.

According to a 2022 survey by Oracle Hospitality and Skift, 29.3% of travelers were very interested and 47.6% were somewhat interested in using automated messaging or chatbots for customer service requests through a mobile device, kiosk, or similar. More than half of hospitality executives reported that they have already implemented this feature, while another 22.4% said they plan to within the next year.

Automated messaging and chatbots are great examples of how technology isn’t about replacing staff but about giving customers more choices. Simple requests like needing more towels or ordering room service can be directly sent to housekeeping or the kitchen instead of involving the front desk or a manager. Good chatbots can redirect more complicated requests to a human. According to that same study, Wyndham Hotel & Resorts said chatbots free up 60-80% of staff’s time from mundane tasks, meaning managers can concentrate on building revenue-generating, reputation-enhancing experiences.

Sustainability Assistance

In order to attract increasingly environmentally-conscious guests as well as equity investors who aren’t risking investing in more non-sustainable properties, hotels and resorts are exploring strategies to minimize their ecological footprint. They’re incorporating practices like adopting renewable energy, sourcing locally-produced food, and implementing waste reduction measures.

According to Hotels magazine, a Las Vegas hotel uses AI to control their HVAC system and slashed energy consumption by 15%. A Davos hotel uses AI sensors to detect when trash is full and alert the waste management team. This reduced the hotel’s waste management costs by 30%. Technology such as this can also assist in predictive maintenance by accurately quantifying food, water, and energy waste, which is what companies like Accor are measuring.

In fact, measurement now is crucial to achieving ambitious emissions goals that the E.U., U.S., and Canada have set through regulations. Assessing energy costs or embodied carbon in current buildings through IoT (smart room thermometers, for example) and advanced analytics will help inform renovations to reduce the industry’s carbon footprint as a whole.

Data Management

Speaking of advanced analytics, giving customers the personalized experiences they’re looking for will involve both an in-person, high-touch, concierge-like service, but also a huge amount of data incoming from many technologies. AI and machine learning will come into play to process and analyze customer data at each particular touchpoint or interaction, and then to integrate it into a cohesive profile with actionable upsells or recommendations, not to mention management of consent and privacy preferences.

The above mentioned Oracle-Skift survey found that 48.3% of executives plan to use AI/analytics for personalized customer service within the next three years and 30.2% plan to integrate travelers’ personal data across their trip. 45.2% of travelers said they would be interested in hotels using their data for better customer service, if they willingly provided their data, and 28.7% were very interested.

Opportunities for Tech Founders

If you have sophisticated automated messaging or chatbot features built into your property management platform, you’re on the right track. AI-powered Customer Relationship Management software would also seem to be in demand to assist in managing customer data and making it actionable. And lastly, companies that can assist with alternative energy, waste management, and carbon footprint measurement and analysis should consider making inroads into the travel and hospitality market to increase their business value.

Mergers and acquisitions are keeping pace with the rapid technological adoption rates in the travel and hospitality sector. If your company has been adopting some of these trends and seeing good growth and retention metrics during this boom, it could be worth taking advantage of the growth and considering selling.

This material and the opinions voiced are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual or entity.

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Modified on Dec 18, 2023