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New Guests, Channels & Experiences: Hospitality Industry Trends in 2021


In 2020, the hospitality industry faced struggles nobody ever could have imagined. From restaurants – with the latest data estimating 110,000 closures due to COVID – to hotels – that continue to struggle to keep guest numbers up – the industry has undergone a radical transformation. 

Because of this, we can expect several new trends to emerge in 2021, including a new type of guest, a new channel by which to reach customers, and an emphasis on personalization greater than we’ve ever seen before. Operators must align their priorities and plans accordingly in order to see success as we head into a new year.

A New Type of Hotel Guest Will Emerge

When it comes to hotels, it’s no surprise that guests’ willingness to plan a trip or book a hotel is lower now than ever before. However, data from SevenRoom's Beyond the Booking report revealed that over a fifth (21%) of Americans say they would book a hotel for a staycation (i.e. planning a trip within their home city) right now. This new guest – the staycation-er – proves that many Americans are still looking for an escape, just from a more local perspective for the time being.

While this guest prioritizes health and safety – so much so that they would end their stay early and never return to that hotel again if the hotel staff and servers looked or sounded ill (67%) – they are also keen to enjoy the same signature experiences that were popular long before the pandemic.

Take hotel amenities, for example. Guests are looking to take advantage of these offerings, but with the caveat that they can be booked ahead of time and enjoyed without fear of overcrowding. In fact, among those Americans interested in booking amenities in advance, 59% want to make a reservation for hotel restaurants, 42% for the pool and 37% for the spa.

By offering these reservations, operators can easily execute upon their guests’ desires, while also utilizing the data they collect to personalize the experience and build a direct relationship with them – enticing them to book a future stay in another location or even visit for the day if they’re local to the area.


New Restaurant Channels Will Make Their Mark

While hotels will be catering to a new type of guest as a result of the pandemic, restaurants will be navigating a new channel – ghost kitchens, which are projected to reach a $1 trillion global market by 2030, according to Euromonitor research.. Though this trend has been growing for some time, the pandemic greatly increased its popularity and adoption. However, there is a fine line for operators between taking advantage of these outlets and being overshadowed by an entity whose sole purpose is to churn out delivery orders.

With nearly 1 in 4 Americans indicating that, for the remainder of 2020, they will only order food for delivery or pick-up, there’s no doubt that the popularity of ghost kitchens will increase in the new year. Operators can be successful with this delivery channel, but only if they use it in the right way. To drive revenue with ghost kitchens, operators must prioritize maintaining their brand identity by utilizing data to create unmatched experiences through consistency, personal touches and direct guest relationships.

Personalized Experiences Will Matter More Than Ever

Across the board, hotel guests and restaurant diners alike will be looking for an experience that is personalized from start to finish. To do this, operators should incorporate technology solutions that not only help them collect data on their guests, but own and leverage it across the entire customer journey – both online and offline. These types of technology platforms allow operators to create seamless, tailored experiences that ultimately drive guest loyalty and revenue.

For example, if a guest visited a hotel’s pool and rented a cabana during a previous visit, the hotel can utilize the data collected through their reservation system to send a personalized offer or discount for them to take advantage of an upcoming cabana promotion or special event on their next visit.

At a restaurant, an operator can utilize the data collected through direct online delivery to collect details on a delivery guest’s favorite items, allowing them to “surprise and delight” the guest with their favorite appetizer or most-ordered bottle of wine when they visit the restaurant in person.

Looking Ahead

Whether welcoming new types of hotel guests, exploring new channels for boosting revenue, or prioritizing data to create exceptional experiences, operators will have their work cut out for them in 2021. With a vaccine on the horizon, the good news is, after months-long lockdowns and restrictions, guests will be eager to support their favorite restaurants and hotel properties in every way possible. Those operators that adapt to these emerging trends and prioritize their efforts appropriately will undoubtedly recover stronger than ever.


About the Author:

Joel Montaniel is the CEO & Co-Founder of SevenRooms, where he leads business strategy. Prior to founding SevenRooms in 2011, Montaniel served as the Chief of Staff at LivePerson, leading strategic, operational and cultural initiatives. He started his career at Credit Suisse within the Real Estate, Finance & Securitization Group. He graduated with a B.A. (Hons) from Georgetown University.


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