A hotel room door is open.

2019 Hotel Trend Predictions

A travel website publisher shares hospitality industry insights expected to impact the business this year.

Working in a hotel is more exciting than ever — no matter what luxury level. Gone are the days of ho-hum guest rooms that serve only the purpose of sleeping and run-of-the-mill operations to manage them. We spoke with Laura Motta, the director of publishing at ShermansTravel Media, a website focused on value in travel, about what to expect in the industry this year.

Laura shares the scoop on hotel trends for 2019, from ditching fussy room gadgets to the hotel version of a West Elm.

Hotels Partnering with Lifestyle Brands

Laura says that hotels are now being tied to big consumer brands that aren’t directly in the travel space. A few examples: Japanese lifestyle retailer Muji is starting to roll out hotels in China and Japan that will feature the minimalist decor that you'd expect based on the store's products. There's also the Shinola Hotel in Detroit, which she says is really selling itself on the same principles that the watch brand uses: smart design and affordability. There's even a West Elm Hotel, which will open in Indianapolis in 2020, and New York City will be home to a Restoration Hardware-branded hotel in the Meatpacking District and an Equinox Hotel in the developing Hudson Yards neighborhood.

“Moving into the travel space makes good sense for these brands,” Laura says. “Their audiences already value style, decor and high-end shopping. It makes sense that this audience travels and wants those same values and aesthetics where they stay. Also — a bonus for these brands — these hotels will function as showrooms for their products. Likely every item in every room will be for sale.”

Wellness at the Forefront

Wellness and lodging now go hand in hand “whether it's in newer, better-equipped fitness centers, healing-focused spa treatments, organized fitness classes or running sessions in the neighborhood,” Laura says. “I know of a beach hotel that organizes this every morning along the shoreline, and the hotel's general manager comes along for the run.” While this isn’t necessarily a super new trend, she adds that, “it's becoming something that hotels and resorts will not be able to avoid or ignore. Wellness programs and support will become the norm among hotel amenities.”

A hotel gym

Saying Goodbye to In-Room Tech

The trend of putting gadgets in each room — like iPads or phones to call the concierge — may be falling by the wayside. “Everyone carries one of those gadgets in their pocket anyway,” Laura says. “Who wants to fuss with two? Room technology in the future is going to be much more seamless and rely heavily on the gadgets that guests already own.”

Saying Hello to Excellent Dining

Laura says that ShermansTravel customers value the renaissance of hotel restaurants. “It's almost unthinkable now to open a hotel without some kind of compelling food and beverage program. These are places, too, where hotels expect their customer base to be made up of as many locals as travelers. So, it's partly about food and partly about creating a vibrant social scene.”

Resort Fees at Non-Resort Hotels

More and more hotels are adding that resort fee to the final hotel bill. These fees can cover anything from food service to the use of a property’s spa facilities. Laura says that you don’t have to be a resort to charge these fees. On occasion, the fee can be of great value to the guests. La Playa Carmel charges a $35 “amenity fee” that includes Wi-Fi, shuttle service to town, fresh-baked cookies along with fruit and iced tea in the lobby, afternoon sangria, a hosted evening wine reception, and a breakfast buffet with unlimited Champagne.

Going Super Local

From local craft beers in the lobby to art in the rooms, hotels are taking an active approach to showcase the best of their city. Laura says, “No one wants to sit in their hotel room and feel like they could be anywhere ⎯ or worse, nowhere, which is a vibe that lots of old-style branded hotels used to embody.”

Chains Putting Value on an Experience

Finally, Laura has a favorite hotel trend for 2019: “I love that the big-box travel brands — the Hiltons and Marriotts of the world — have caught on to the idea that everyone, not just their highest-end luxury customer, values beautiful design, great food and a hotel environment that's reflective of the destination.”

Learn how hotels adapt to trends in ICE's Hospitality & Hotel Management program. The first Monday-Friday afternoon schedule starts March 18.

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