After ten solid years of growth, the hospitality industry, like the rest of the world, experienced a massive disruption due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But as we turn the corner and head into the new year, we’ll begin to see signs of steady recovery and new hospitality industry trends emerge in 2021.
What Trends Are There Currently in the Hospitality Industry?
Last year, we saw a big push towards digital transformation in hospitality, both in employee and customer-facing technologies. While COVID-19 disrupted operations, it also accelerated the adoption of digital tools and increased mobile device usage in the workplace.
This digital transformation trend in hospitality will continue to dominate the narrative in 2021, but with a greater focus on empowering the frontline workers who have been so pivotal to keeping our society functioning during a global pandemic.
Here are the top five current hospitality trends that are emerging as we continue to navigate the new normal in hospitality.
1. The Great Reset
If there is a silver lining to the hardships of 2020, it might be that we eventually emerge from this crisis stronger than before. The World Economic Forum has dubbed it “The Great Reset.” This downtime is an opportunity for companies to reevaluate their operations and find new ways to run the business more efficiently.
For hospitality, The Great Reset will accelerate digital transformation. This will lead to a faster recovery and ultimately yield greater profits. In fact, companies in the top tier of digital transformation increase their revenues twice as fast, which can help hospitality businesses offset their losses from 2020.
This digital transformation will center around implementing a mobile-first strategy to get technology into the hands of every worker. That digital unification will help businesses recover faster, be more resilient, and create a more agile business model.
2. Accelerated Digital Enablement for Frontline Workers
If there’s one takeaway from 2020, it’s the recognition of the essential roles frontline workers play in the global economy. But it’s been a tumultuous year for hospitality workers and companies will leverage technology to rebuild and retrain their workforces.
In 2021, many hospitality employers will accelerate the digital enablement of their frontline teams by implementing a secure, workplace app that facilitates real-time, two-way communication. That trend will merge with the rapid rise of cloud-based communication tools as companies seek out secure platforms that will maximize productivity and build resilience.
As we’ve discovered in our own research for our Frontline Worker Technology Report, it’s the perfect time for hospitality companies to leverage mobile communication tools to connect with their workers.
Here’s what the current mobile trends show:
- 96% of younger workers in the U.S. own a smartphone
- 22% of young adults rely solely on smartphones for internet access
- Mobile connectivity among frontline workers reached an all-time high in 2020, jumping by 70%
- 85% of hospitality workers access workplace tech through mobile devices
A digitally-empowered frontline is quickly defining the hospitality workforce of the future.
3. Safety Will Continue to Be Top Priority
In this new normal, hospitality companies will continue to make guest and employee safety a top priority in 2021. Technology will help guide these safety strategies.
Building A Safer Workplace
Many companies were quick to implement safety protocols internally, especially for frontline teams who continued to work on site. Leaders will continue to build safety into workplace culture and construct ways to keep teams engaged and productive without having to worry about their own health and safety at work.
At the Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group, frontline workers are given access to digital documents through Beekeeper so they don’t have to pass around shared papers. Housekeeping teams use digital checklists on their mobile devices for task management instead of a paper and clipboard.
A Safer Guest Experience
One of the hotel trends 2020 was expecting was an increase in AI. As companies continue to adopt technology to create a smoother guest experience, these tools will also increase safety measures.
Guests are eager to return to their leisure activities, making choices based on the usual factors, like cost and availability. But now, consumers will also weigh the safety measures in place at an establishment. AI is leading the way in touchless transactions, like digital keys and mobile check ins, and it’s one of the guest trends we’ll see more of in 2021.
4. Mobile Tools for Agility and Resilience
Hospitality companies that have been able to withstand the most severe impacts of the pandemic are most often the ones who are supported by mobile collaboration tools that facilitate real-time communication through a single platform.
Companies are increasingly relying on geographically dispersed teams. The top reason they adopt digital workplace apps is to centralize communication, which we’ll see more of as the nature of work continues to change.
- Pivot to new operating models with limited disruption
- Create an aligned, adaptable workforce that can quickly mobilize from any location
- Facilitate bottom-up leadership for greater engagement
- Consolidates workplace apps in one place
In 2021, companies will adopt digital strategies that allow them to anticipate, react, pivot, and recover from business disruptions while staying focused on delivering exceptional service.
5. The Rise of Lean Operations Management
In 2021, the hospitality industry will embrace lean operations management as businesses look for creative ways to cut costs. Organizations will look for ways to increase productivity, efficiency and revenue while reducing waste and spending.
For too long, companies have had siloed systems, informational hierarchies, and slow communication that have resulted in operational challenges and inefficiencies. For example, fewer than 20% of workers are reachable within five minutes.
Hospitality will leverage mobile communication, automation, and digitization in their lean strategies. According to McKinsey, digitizing processes and paperwork can help cut costs by up to 90% by eliminating operational roadblocks and creating frictionless workflows.
2020 is not a year we’ll soon forget. But the hospitality industry is on track to recover and thrive in this next normal with a digitally-enabled workforce.
Download the white paper to learn more about top hospitality industry trends for 2021.