Guest experience trends: What to watch in '16
Guest experience trends: What to watch in '16
29 DECEMBER 2015 6:50 AM
Participants in this virtual roundtable divulge some under-the-radar trends that might change the guest experience in 2016.
REPORT FROM THE U.S.—There have been countless reports and studies on guest-facing trends for the coming year. And there’s no shortage of trend-related articles on Hotel News Now.
But what exactly can travelers expect in 2016 when it comes to the guest experience? HNN sought to answer that question with this virtual roundtable. We asked hotel industry folks with an array of backgrounds the following question:
What’s a trend not on everyone’s radar that will affect the guest experience in 2016?

On luxury
Mark Harmon, managing partner, Auberge Resorts Collection: “Luxury resort guests today, more than ever before, are seeking custom-designed experiences and highly-personalized service. They’re enjoying sophisticated cuisine in settings that are relaxed and social and they’re embracing service that’s unscripted. Guests are looking to the operator to be the destination advisor and to create one-of-a-kind experiences that surprise and delight. In every aspect of the resort experience, this new approach is taking off, and it will continue to evolve in 2016 and beyond.”
On hotel design
Harry Wheeler, principal, Group One Partners: “Art is becoming increasingly more important to our hotel designs to enhance the overall guest experience and fulfill their desire for authenticity. Art, sculpture and the reuse of historical artifacts and their integration into the architecture of the building play a huge role in providing travelers with a personal and customized experience and connection with hotel brands. By creating viewing areas and architectural elements to frame this art, we are immersing guests in their cultural surroundings by giving them a hotel with a personality that celebrates its place in the world.”
On technology
Matthew Schuyler, EVP and chief human resources officer, Hilton Worldwide Holdings: “Rapid advances in technology continue to shape and change how we interact with brands, products and people, changing the way we live and learn. Consumers now expect customized experiences. The challenge for companies is how we leverage technology to provide consistency at scale when needed while, at the same time, providing unique experiences being demanded by our customers. … Our guests, they want to be in the driver’s seat when it comes to their experiences with our company.” 
On F&B
Thomas Conran, principal, Greenwood Hospitality: “The mantra for the coming year will continue to push operators to think outside the box and create unique multi-faceted experiences. The focus to infuse healthy and hyper-local ingredients into food-and-beverage items will be on the rise. More focus on the sustainability and locally sourced animal proteins will occur and whether it be root vegetables, compressed melons or fresh garnishes they will all find their way into bar and nosh offerings, main plate attractions and cocktails as well. Further development in the use of aromatic spices and sauce blends will be found in cocktails, ‘mocktails’ and even snacks. Additionally, ceviche, sashimi and crudo and distinct ethnic flavors will continue to grow in popularity, providing diners an opportunity to explore greater portions of a menu in a single experience through the use of ‘small and share’ plates. Comfort food and stews will continue to gain popularity, even including variations of fried chicken. Be on the lookout for dishes utilizing new and important cuts of meat.
“On the beverage side, mock cocktails and variations of eccentric coffee offerings will become more prevalent alongside the creation of house-made sodas. Gin could become the new bourbon, yet the latter will continue to be a strong performer in the year ahead. The use of infusions and the fresh garnishes will be mainstays for the mixology discipline. Craft beers will remain healthy in 2016 and will be joined at the tap with wine offerings. Additionally, there will be a renewed focus on wine listings to include more white wine selections.”
On spas, team talent, convenience 
Marie Parodi, spa director, JW Marriott Chicago: “The following areas are where I see 2016 guest-service trends heading:
“Mobility will play a significant factor in being able to provide optimal spa experiences. Having access to guests’ ‘Sentiment Analytics’ would not only provide the spa with a competitive edge, it would also be instrumental in creating memorable experiences. This type of profiling gives hospitality/service providers useful information resulting in proactive and personalized guest predictability, and in turn saves time. Preparation delivers the tools to provide stellar forms of guest engagement allowing for greater connections. 
“Talent is vital in order to work as a team seamlessly. Leaders in 2016 are most likely to have a greater focus on providing their associates with a growth plan to develop talent from within their company/department. The ability to have innovative anticipations of the guests’ needs, read the rhythm of their surroundings, understand how they may be impacted and make adjustments within a minimal amount of time circles back to only one thing: team talent. It’s about knowing the guests’ next step before they do and keeping the ‘wow factor’ alive. Guest loyalty is built by relationships. Some of the most important relationships in your everyday life are the professional ones you have cultivated.
“With the millennial mindset taking over, it’s important to understand and be able to provide the ‘now’ factor. Life moves too quickly to remember to call a business during operating hours only. Guests will be able to communicate via mobile applications and/or texting in order to accommodate requests on their time and not only during operating hours. Convenience is the way to our guests’ hearts. It is the empowerment of guests that provide customer engagement paramount to none.”
On culture
Robert Cheng, VP of marketing, The Peninsula Hotels: “We’re seeing three trends which all tie into our hotels’ positions as literally and metaphorically the heart of the city. Firstly—and most importantly—guests are increasingly wanting to live like a local, so our PenCities online—updated weekly and hard-copy guides—in conjunction with LUXE City Guides, give guests insider access to the most up-to-date details on the newest hot spots in each destination. Meanwhile, our Peninsula Academy (programs) also offer curated insights into the culture, heritage and cuisine of each city. 
“We’re increasingly investing in public art and partnering with artists to educate, interest and stimulate both our guests and local residents, including a bus on the façade of The Peninsula Hong Kong during Art Basel, a neon installation at the entrance to New York and all hotels partnering with local artists on pink-themed artworks to raise funds for breast cancer. Giving back to our communities with the help of our guests is also key, ranging from our ongoing commitments to Make-A-Wish International, local children’s’ charities and even to building our own Peninsula village in the Philippines offering the victims of Tropical Storm Haiyan new homes, community facilities and livelihood opportunities—all of which make our guests feel more connected to their respective Peninsula destinations.”

1 Comment

  • Kris Seeboo January 4, 2016 6:36 PM

    As Guests are becoming more knowledgeable, it is of prime importance that we re-engineer the pricing policy at the hotels be it at the F/B outlet...or Spa treatment . Our business is to create the sense of satisfaction to our guests and they should be laboring under the delusion that many items are over-priced because of the captive market of staying in a hotel

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