The year ahead may pose some major challenges for the UK hotel industry but those who approach 2017 with a strong offering and willingness to adapt to fast changing demands will thrive.
The hotel industry in 2016 was struck by the dual challenges of Brexit and the rise and rise of peer-to-peer hotel platforms such as Airbnb – both of which will continue to be key influencers.
Here we look at some of the likely key trends for 2017.
UK economic slowdown
While the full impact of the UK vote to leave the EU will not be known for some time, PwC predicts economic growth will slow in 2017 to 0.6%, with consequences for the hotel industry despite a strong 2016.
A weak pound should provide a boost to inbound international leisure travel, but security concerns, tight corporate travel budgets, above average supply growth, especially in London, and consumer and corporate uncertainty could create some instability.
The hotel industry already faces a major skills shortage in the UK and could suffer if less EU workers choose to come to Britain as a result of the Brexit vote. An estimated 442,000 EU migrants work in Britain’s hotels and restaurants and many of these jobs may have to refilled by British people if migrants head home. This would likely result in increased wages and higher labour costs which would be passed on to the customer.
Shared economy models
The popularity of Airbnb and other shared economy models will continue with a predicted 54% growth in registrations to these types of platforms. With increased user registrations and online traffic to these sites in 2017, hotels must find new ways to compete.
In 2016, hotels began to use technology to differentiate their offering and provide a more tailored and unique guest experience in response to these issues. Hotels must continue to emphasize their value-added service provision compared to the DIY element of a peer-to-peer stay.
In 2017, hotels will be forced to push boundaries further, with technology not just as a bolt on service but as an integral part of the hotel offering to make services slicker, faster and more flexible for customers.
Keeping it mobile
From bookings and check-in options to room access, mobile phones dominated the list of top new hotel technology rollouts in 2016 and will continue to do so as hotels respond to the immediacy of guest demands.
According to Hospitality Technology, 84% of hoteliers plan to have hotel-branded mobile apps within the next 18 months. At the same time, about one quarter of hotels plan to start using mobile keys.
This trend not only makes it simpler for guests to book and access services but can make financial sense for the hotel, streamlining front of house services allowing staff to focus more time on looking after guests. Avon Data’s front desk software supports this streamlined and immediate approach with automated check in and out and guest engagement module.
This year will also see the rise of travel-oriented apps for a smarter stay; from monitoring the queue at the breakfast buffet to digitally controlling the ambiance of rooms. Hotels are also expected to engage with the many sleep apps and wearable tech by going beyond blackout shades to design rooms incorporating creative solutions like sound and lighting technology and sensitive wake up tools and techniques.
In room entertainment
More than half of hotels (56%) say that guestroom technology upgrades will be a priority in 2017. This could include anything from boosting bandwidth to support the content and devices that guests are carrying with them to investing in Virtual Reality platforms to offer a completely unique in-room entertainment experience. Imagine being able to tour the location with a VR tour guide before stepping out of the hotel.
These tech advances will enhance the hotel industry’s ability to be creative, flexible and responsive to a changing and increasingly challenging market.
Avon Data provides a suite of technology systems that support hotels from reservation through to front of house management to streamline systems and help deliver the bespoke and immediate service that will characterize 2017.