AccorHotels just predicted 7 hospitality trends for 2018

AccorHotels took to Twitter on Tuesday, crystal-balling seven hospitality trends it thinks will be big in 2018. Of course, its list is a bit self-serving; they are things the Paris-based hotel company, which owns, operates and franchises some 3,700 hotels globally, is hard at work on to provide to its guests. According to AccorHotels, 2018 will be the year of...

1. Local Services
Last year, AccorHotels launched AccorLocal, an application allowing residents who live near an Accor property to access the services of local artisans and companies. In its basic form, it allows hoteliers the ability to promote their hospitality services to non-guests. Offerings can include bouquet deliveries, yoga or other fitness classes provided on property, food deliveries, or pay-by-the-hour car rental services through a partnership with Hertz. The strategy is part of the company's shift to become a technology company, rather than solely a hospitality company.

2. Mobile Payment
2018 will hopefully be a year for smoother mobile payment. AccorHotels is looking to be out on the lead on this. In November, the company signed a deal with First Data, a payment solution provider, who will power payments for AccorHotels for in-store, online and mobile transactions. This includes facilitating transactions for AccorHotels' online booking tool. The phased introduction of the partnership starts with properties in Germany, France and the United Kingdom, before continuing into other countries throughout 2018.

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3. Laid-back Luxury
Austere and rigid no longer are hallmarks of a luxury hotel experience. There has been a palpable shift in the meaning and promise of a luxury hotel, and one of those traits, as AccorHotels correctly points out, is laid-back living. Donning a three-piece suit in the hotel dining room is no longer compulsory attire; many guests, who still want a luxury experience, want that experience in tennis shoes (the kind that might cost $500) and sweatpants (finely tailored and expensive, that is). Today's luxury consumer has the same money as predecessors, but uses it in different ways. This is especially true of the millennial generation, which is known to spend money not as much on material goods but on experiences. AccorHotels can count four luxury brands now—Fairmont, Raffles, Sofitel and Banyan Tree—and clearly it believes in nonchalant luxury in 2018.

4. Meaningful and Sustainable Travel
See above. A wide swath of travelers today want to draw meaning out of their travels, while leaving a dollop of a footprint. They also want the hotels they stay at to engage in sustainable operations, since the environment to many a world traveler is sacrosanct. AccorHotels' 21 Planet program aims to do just this, outlining specific goals for 2020 based around four strategic priorities: work with its employees, involve its customers, innovate with its partners and work with local communities. Two key issues to tackle will be food and buildings, the company says.

5. Personalized Guest Services
Tailored and bespoke aren't just natty terms. In today's hospitality landscape, hotels want to know as much about their guests as they can so they can better customize an experience through amenities and services. Hotel companies, like AccorHotels, are better able to do this through platforms like a CRS, mobile apps and loyalty programs. AccorHotels uses products like Adobe to personalize the guest experience with targeted offers and other information. 

6. Chatbots
Because who doesn't like talking to artificial intelligence? Last February, AccorHotels' Mercure brand launched a BOT, an up-to-the-minute instant messaging solution for Facebook and Messenger. "Offering a hotel experience anchored in a specific locality is the very essence of the Mercure brand and its venues," the company said, and "only a BOT is capable of memorizing the full range of stories from so many places around the world. This handy tool will enable travelers and neighborhood residents alike to discover the “Local Stories” that surround them, simply by geolocating and allowing themselves to be guided." Here's how AccorHotels further explains chatbots, or virtual assistants, while this video further clarifies.

7. Smart and Wellness Rooms
Everyone wants to be smarter these days—why shouldn't a room be, too? In fact, smart rooms are all the rage, and AccorHotels is tossing its hat into the ring. Back in November, AccorHotels revealed that it's testing a smart or connected room, relying on things like voice activation and the Internet of Things to enhance the in-room guest experience. Some of the features being tested include a connected tablet to adjust the room's light and music, close curtains, tilt the headboard and control audiovisual equipment; LED lighting with footboard motion sensors; sleep aids, such as Dodow, a luminous metronome that gets you to fall asleep more quickly, or Dreem, a headband that promotes better sleep; and items like Sensorwake, billed as world's first olfactory alarm clock. With products like these, this room promises to sound and smell smart.

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