The future of the hotel industry is upon us, and you're probably wondering, "What does it hold for us?"
That is precisely the question McKinsey aimed to answer. In a study titled "The Next Normal - The Hotel of the future," the firm conducted a series of interviews with several industry experts to unveil what the coming years could mean for the sector.
From these interviews, seven major trends were identified that will shape the face of our industry.
If you are a player in the hotel industry, the following is crucial. What will hotels look like in 2030? Here is a summary of industry leaders' visions.
# Trend 1: Comfort and Personalization
The new decade will be all about the guest experience.
According to Caroline Tufft, an expert at McKinsey Travel, the most significant change coming in the 2030s is the elimination of all friction points, such as those endless check-in lines. She envisions more flexible options where you won't have to wait until 4:00 PM to check in. This elimination is made possible through technology: why wait at the front desk when your phone can assign your room directly?
This elimination is made possible through technology: why wait at the front desk when your phone can assign your room directly?
But beyond convenience, personalization is being emphasized. Matteo Pacca, also a McKinsey expert, talks about tailoring every detail of the room to the customer's preferences, from lighting intensity to the coffee brand available or the bathroom layout.
To satisfy the new generation, various experts emphasize the pursuit of unique and irreplaceable experiences. These are experiences that cannot be replicated and are enjoyed at a specific moment. For example, a yoga retreat with a renowned instructor, available only one week a year: guests would come specifically for this offer. This implies that hotels need to think differently about their programming.
The traveller of 2030 is not looking for a standardized hotel but a genuine local immersion.
# Trend 2: Mental Health and Well-being
Guest well-being is no longer just physical but also mental. A growing trend in the hotel industry is to provide experiences that rejuvenate the mind as much as the body.
In the past, guests might have felt more tired after a business trip, for example. Alex Schellenberger, Chief Marketing Officer at Accor, explains that in 2030, it will be the hoteliers' responsibility to provide the opposite experience. Travel, beyond a simple getaway, becomes a moment of overall rejuvenation.
# Trend 3: Hybrid Spaces
Alix Boulnois, Digital Director at the Accor Group, discusses the concept of "augmented hospitality." The hotel in 2030 is no longer just a place to sleep but a true multifunctional space offering numerous services. Imagine having a bank, mail service, and laundry all under the same roof!
Damien Perrot, Director of Design and Innovation at Accor, goes even further by envisioning a time when people might choose to live in hotels rather than traditional apartments. The reason? Modular spaces and a range of convenient services that meet the growing needs for efficiency and comfort.
# Trend 4: The Evolution of Business Travel into "Bleisure"
"Bleisure," a fusion of business and leisure, is the new horizon for business travel. If business travel is making a comeback, it is in a hybrid form. Hotel spaces are reinventing themselves to be versatile, meeting professional requirements while allowing for relaxation.
With the rise of remote work, many choose to combine work and exploring a new destination, opting for longer stays. Hotels are becoming true bases for these new work nomads.
# Trend 5: Sustainability at the Heart of Hotel Design
Environmental urgency affects all sectors, including hospitality. According to Matteo Pacca, there is increased focus on sustainability in hospitality, and it's not just about image.
"The demand for sustainability will cover everything: 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," says Matteo.
To meet these demands, hotels need to innovate. For example, Accor has taken steps to eliminate single-use plastic items. Steve Saxon mentions the use of sensors to regulate energy based on guest presence in the room, particularly air conditioning.
In parallel, biophilic architecture and design are gaining popularity, creating spaces inspired and powered by nature.
# Trend 6: Technological Innovation
Technology is changing the game in the hotel industry to offer an unprecedented guest experience.
Micropersonalization, through generative AI, will transform the guest's stay. Imagine a hotel room that instantly adapts to your preferences, from lighting to music. Hotel staff will be able to identify each guest, know their history and previous stays to personalize their offerings.
According to Alix Boulnois, "When the guest arrives at the hotel, we’ll also use technology to provide hotel staff with information so that they can serve the guest in a personalized fashion. They need to be able to say, “Hello, Mr. X, we know you’re traveling with your kids—and we know you love chocolate, so we’ve left some chocolate in your room,” and so on."
Apps will become central and standard in hotels by 2030, facilitating not only room reservations but also experiences and restaurant bookings. Guests will be able to go directly to their rooms using a mobile app, making the traditional check-in process obsolete. This will free up staff to focus more proactively on guest needs, making interactions less transactional.
And innovation doesn't stop there. Augmented reality, NFTs, and virtual reality will make their appearance, offering new ways to experience and interact with the hotel space.
However, Alex Schellenberger insists that despite these technological advances, human creativity remains irreplaceable, especially in marketing.
>> To see concretely how an application can now transform your customer experience, request a demo of our Guest App from our team.
# Trend 7: The Importance of Talent
Faced with a labor shortage, attracting and retaining talent has become a top priority to provide a first-class customer experience. Hotels must be responsible employers, focusing on flexible and diverse roles to meet the aspirations of new generations. Generation Z, in particular, has specific expectations, seeking positions that offer flexibility, diversity, and fulfillment.
As Matteo Pacca mentions, to truly make a difference and offer an unparalleled guest experience, it is crucial to have the best team. Only passionate, trained, and valued staff can truly bring hospitality to life as envisioned for the future.
“Hospitality is about experience. Most of the experience is actually 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.” Matteo Pacca.
A promising decade lies ahead for the hotel industry. Emerging trends show that change is in the air, pushing professionals to constantly reinvent and innovate.
Whether it's focusing on the mental and physical well-being of guests, adopting a hybrid accommodation model, prioritizing sustainability, or integrating cutting-edge technology, the goal is clear: to offer an exceptional and memorable customer experience.
Furthermore, the emphasis on talent in the industry indicates that hotels are now aware that their true strength lies in their teams. In this era of rapid evolution, the hotel industry is preparing to embrace the future armed with innovation, adaptability, and a human-centered vision.
You can find the full McKinsey study and video interviews by following this link.