Industry Update
Opinion Article24 November 2021

10 Travel Trends That Will Happen in 2022

Travel Will Return With Industry Shifts in the New Year

By Bob Rauch, President of RAR Hospitality

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Travel is making a new direction in 2022 and it’s important for hoteliers to continue adapting to the consumer changes for these travel predictions.

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Here are 10 travel trends that I expect to happen in the new year.

1. The Talent Void

We furloughed and laid off the majority of our workforce, but we can fix it by recruiting those with strong communication, technology, sales and analytic skills. Yes, we will pay them more but they will perform better and will provide superior customer service that is currently lacking.

2. Live Events 2.0

We will see the return of live events but for a while, they will often include a hybrid component. Companies know they must send their key salespeople on the road, but rather than send four, maybe two stay back and pay a reduced admission fee and have access to all the speakers and presentations. The live events will often have strict protocols, on-site COVID-19 testing and more. Every hotel chain is jumping in with their own version of hybrid meetings technology.

3. Contactless Transactions

These are here to stay. Nobody wants to touch something that is not clean and sanitized, whether it be in a hotel, restaurant, attraction or meeting environment. Mobile ordering, digital check-in, QR codes, self-service kiosks, digital menu boards and much more. Why? Because they are both safe and effective at reducing labor costs.

4. Hygiene, Sustainability, Safety and Wellness

Firms like Ecolab have been working on the hygiene part of this equation for years. Add in the consumer preference of sustainability and the pandemic’s impact on thoughts about wellness and these all meet up for a package of plastic reduction, reusable spray bottles, recycling, water savings and more. Sanitizing stations will live on and third-party health and wellness ratings will become commonplace.

5. Death of the Good Old Boy Network

Guests appreciate great service but knowledge of what guests wanted in the 1900s does not make for a successful hotel. Guests want technology that provides them with 2020s quality of life. Fast, free internet, texts that keep guests updated, smart TVs with the content they want, contactless transactions, use of the mobile phone for everything and more. Add in positive reviews and they are happy!

6. Sales Are Forever Changed

Sure, the basics are critical and sales calls have not changed dramatically, but prospecting tools have changed, booking technology has changed and the process is no longer manual. Order takers are out, data and technology are in and the hybrid meeting component alone will eliminate those who just don’t get it.

7. Technology Is an Investment, Not an Expense

Artificial-intelligence enhanced guest communications, customer service robots and automation in the front and back of the house will improve profits both short and long term. As an industry, we need to embrace automation, not because it will reduce labor but because it will drive revenue and automate manual, repetitive tasks. Given our labor shortages and increased cost of labor, we get a bonus.

8. Art to Science

Yes, our industry is still an art. But it has morphed into a science, first with revenue management and now with all things digital, the Internet of Things (IoT) and digital disruption to name a few. Airbnb and other short-term rentals are nibbling away at our market.

9. All Things Digital

Every channel that we go to for rooms costs dollars and we need to know how much! How do we develop a business plan post-pandemic? We need every tool in the toolbox and they are all technology-oriented. Websites, digital marketing, laser-targeted sales and knowledge of the changing landscapes are required.

10. Wow Customer Service Returns

Personalization and a return to wow service that we have not seen in a long time will return this year and be a differentiator. All the technology in the world won't bring people back without this. Hire today's women as they really get this!

Bob Rauch

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