If hotel companies behaved like high school cliques, Hilton would definitely be a forward-thinking tech nerd.
The company is typically ahead of the pack with things like mobile check-in and checkout, digital key technology and connecting room guarantees with its online reservations system. So, when Hilton puts out a report on where it sees future travel trends heading, it’s usually smart to tune in and see what the forecast is. The industry is likely to follow.
The company’s 2024 Trends Report examines how travelers of all ages, from Generation Z to baby boomers, look to interact with a hotel during a stay — and how that might impact your next trip.
Welcome to the era of wellness
The company points to one of its newer brands, Tempo, when touching on how wellness trends increasingly impact how Hilton approaches design and operations at its hotels. Tempo, which debuted this year in New York City’s Times Square, includes various mechanisms to help guests sleep better. A charging puck for smartphones is meant to promote leaving a phone on the nightstand instead of scrolling and looking at the screen well past bedtime.
Canopy by Hilton features sleep-enhanced bedding with features like temperature-controlled and supportive mattresses. Motto by Hilton includes sound-absorbing surroundings in its guest rooms.
Expect to see more sleep features — perhaps quieter ones — in the future, as Hilton notes nearly 10% of travelers around the world travel with a white noise machine. The company estimates that 20% of global travelers request rooms away from elevators or on a higher floor to get away from any noise.
The company is also monitoring how nearly 20% of travelers admit to bringing their own pillow to a hotel stay to ensure better sleep. You can already point to pillow libraries at nicer hotels like Japan’s Conrad Osaka or the Waldorf Astoria Dubai Palm Jumeirah as a sign hotels are picking up on this trend. We’ll be curious how this travel trend plays out on a more mainstream level at Hilton brands like Home2 and Tru.
Free-spirited fun at the bar
The company also emphasized ways it is looking to court travelers who increasingly look to consume nonalcoholic beverages for a variety of reasons. The wellness report noted a quarter of Gen Z travelers avoid alcohol before bedtime. But the company doesn’t take this as a sign Gen Z travelers are heading to bed early; they just aren’t drinking as many alcohol-fueled drinks.
The company highlighted its nonalcoholic (or “free-spirited”) cocktail menu at Tempo as one way Hilton can appeal to all travelers. A company presentation indicated some travelers even alternate between spirited and free-spirited drinks throughout the night.
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“We don’t want to be didactic about how we engage with wellness and our guests,” said Amanda Al-Masri, Hilton’s vice president of wellness, during an online webinar early this month. “We don’t mean to tell them what it means to be well. We want to react to their needs and where they are in their wellness journey.”
The all-inclusive resort is no longer just for poolside fun
Wristbands and frozen cocktails might be the hallmark of many all-inclusive resorts, but Hilton is banking that there’s a business travel future for this type of hotel stay. Hilton and its main competitors like Hyatt, Marriott and IHG all have various strategies to beef up their all-inclusive resort offerings in the coming years.
One area of change that likely comes with these hotel giants and their loyalty programs entering a space previously dominated by Sandals and Club Med is that trip purpose might expand. Hilton notes businesses might start to give all-inclusive resorts more consideration for meetings and events travel.
“The past few years have reinforced that there is no true replacement for in-person meetings and events,” Chris Silcock, Hilton’s chief commercial officer, said in a statement included in the trends report. “Today many are embracing the unique value of business travel and want to maximize the time that they have on the road, in the meeting or at the conference to build and strengthen relationships.”
One way the company appears poised to capitalize on the trend is to position all-inclusive resorts as venues that play into the idea of more blended business and leisure travel. It appears to be paying off, as the company claims group bookings at Hilton all-inclusive resorts were up “by double digits” from a year ago.
Yes, that means you might see as many crowds at the business center at a Hilton all-inclusive resort as you do at the swim-up poolside bar. OK, maybe not as many — but close.