Activist hoteliers and intrepid tourists will test new boundaries, while innovators will capitalise on the liminal space between destinations.
Hospitality and travel providers will have to create even more products that cater for global One World citizens seeking to maximise their time in transit.
This will be demonstrated in different ways, including the rise of a new third- space market that is neither home nor office nor coffee shop. Instead, with more people commuting into cities, increased micro-hospitality offerings will supply downtime on demand. Similarly, in the travel market, innovations in products and services will ensure that travellers are getting the best quality sleep that they can while on the move.
But perhaps the biggest changes in the sector will come from the new consumers who will spend their increasingly disposable income on travel. Brands will have to consider how to cater for new travellers from Africa, Asia and the Middle East. And markets that have remained restricted to date, such as Saudi Arabia, will attract curious minds and offer new opportunities to shape travel experiences in these yet-to-be explored regions.
With 3.7m people in the UK commuting almost two hours every day, according to the Office for National Statistics, more hospitality spaces will enable workers to make better use of the time spent travelling between the home and the office.
While coffee shops have arguably offered a third space between work and home for the past 20 years, they are often used as places to do more work. But as blurred lifestyles exert more pressure on workers, a new type of third space will emerge that will become inner-city sanctuaries designed to help de-stress workers and improve productivity.
New apps including As You Stay and Recharge in the US are enabling users to book hotel rooms by the hour or even by the minute, with no minimum stay requirement. In Hong Kong, Sleeep takes this premise one step further with a technology-enabled capsule hotel featuring smart circadian lighting that induces sleep, and which can be booked by the hour. Each highlights the need for spaces between the home and work that offer respite from pervasive always-on culture.
Industry Innovator: Eaton Workshop Hotel
Big idea: Creating a global hotel chain with a politically conscious and liberal social agenda, the Eaton Workshop Hotel will put its politics at the centre of its hospitality offerings from the art on show to the events it hosts.
Why it matters in 2018: With Western nations experiencing political instability – or at the very least uncertainty – politics will be at the forefront of consumers’ minds, and it will be a way for service-providers to offer community and conversation at a time when people need it most.
Travelling while we sleep is often a necessary evil. It saves us time, but does it help that much if we are exhausted when we get to our destination? While other sectors such as beauty and wellness have started to address sleep deprivation, this is an area in which travel companies are only just beginning to innovate.
Mattress manufacturer Simba Sleep has created a high-tech airline seat that monitors passengers’ comfort levels and responds accordingly. The seat uses a range of sleep solutions to ensure travellers are well rested, including amber light therapy and adjusting the temperature of the seat to ensure passengers’ bodies are optimised for sleep.
This will not only be the focus of airlines and their first-class passengers. Increasingly travellers will look for low-budget solutions that use the dead time of sleep while allowing them to rest. Bus company Cabin has built- in bunk beds and offers passengers a comfortable alternative to the typical low-cost flight experience.
Driven by the need to diversify its oil-dependent economy, Saudi Arabia is relaxing its ultra-conservative image and rethinking laws that have limited its ability to modernise, marking an ambitious new direction for the nation.
Luxury tour operators are already planning to introduce hospitality offerings while still having to work under current restrictions. UK travel operator Steppes Travel introduced a £4,895 ($6,486, €5,572) tour to Saudi Arabia in the company of author and local expert Peter Harrigan. ‘Saudi Arabia carries an aura of mystique and intrigue that is a compelling draw card for the curious traveller,’ says Justin Wateridge, managing director of Steppes Travel.
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