Mood Media launches hospitality trend book
Four key trends highlighted: immersion, community, customization und convenience
Mood Media, the world’s leading in-store media solutions company dedicated to elevating the Customer Experience, launches its second trend book, exploring the ever-changing nature of customer experience in the hospitality sector looking at global best practices in hotels and restaurants through the lens of four major trends: customisation, immersion, community and convenience.
As the hospitality sector continues to feel the impact of e-commerce, the hotel and restaurant industries have had to quickly adapt and find new ways to elevate the customer experience. Leveraging its global network of experts, Mood Media has chosen to compare the initiatives of major chains as well as independent actors, and both high-end and affordable companies. The result clearly shows how much the customer experience is continually evolving.
Valentina Candeloro, Mood Media's Director of International Marketing, said: "The customer experience is undergoing profound change, and brands are all confronted with the digitalisation of the customer journey and the importance of meeting the needs of hyper-informed consumers who want everything on the spot. We are very happy to share what we found to be the global best practices and examples to follow in this transformation of the customer experience in the hospitality sector, with a focus on hotels and restaurants. Our goal as a global organisation is to be able to consult and inform our clients on the best local and global practices to elevate the customer experience, in every possible sector."
The transformation of the hotel industry
The hotel industry is experiencing a significant transformation, which is also changing the services provided. The arrival of players like Airbnb has quickly put the industry under pressure to deliver exceptional customer experiences and the democratisation of technologies such as robots, artificial intelligence and tablets has brought hotels into a new era. Hotels are responding agilely to the four main trends of the customer experience identified by Mood Media:
Immersion is a natural customer experience trend for hotels. It can also mean a "transformational" experience, for example being able to work on oneself, having access to the best culinary experiences, or taking a break from your usual routine with unique, fun experiences. One response to this trend is hotels so embedded in nature that they have no roofs or walls like The Null Stern Hotel in Switzerland, or traveling pop-up lodgings at the foot of the slopes, or even allowing customers to discover their room in virtual reality before the trip.
Brands must integrate into the daily lives of their customers and build real communities. While the notion of community is somewhat innate in the hospitality sector, it takes new forms. Customers care about physical experiences, which is turning hotels into a key part of society. In India, for example, the OYO chain has become a true ambassador of Indian culture. Elsewhere hotels are creating spaces open to tourists and locals alike, and many hotels include co-working spaces and even libraries. In Mexico, some hostels even offer a program dedicated to IT developers, with a 12-week training program and corporate coaching, whereas in Australia urban villages are created combining accommodation, workspace, professional networks, training, design and entertainment.
Whether customisation is the most important trend in hospitality has yet to be decided, however, there are some interesting themes emerging such as: sleep on demand (choice of the type of mattress, blackout blinds, herbal teas, etc.), paying for what you think the hotel was worth and not their set price, or choosing a room according to your mood. Every specific detail can now be chosen by the customer.
If there is one thing that guests ask for, it’s an easier, quicker and simpler process when they arrive at the hotel, go shopping, or want to eat or leave. Technology allows hotels to streamline back-office functions (some have even automated room cleaning), as well as allowing customers to take control of their hotel experiences through the use of technology. On-demand hotels with easy reservations, robotic concierges, a telephone that serves as a key, connected speakers dedicated to hotel services or an electronic bracelet that replaces wallets and gives access to activities are all good examples of this trend.
The reinvention of restaurants
Because of the massive impact of home deliveries, restaurants must reinvent the customer experience even more to give consumers a good reason to go out for dinner and create lasting memories of their meal. Beyond the particularly powerful Instagram effect, which now has a table reservation functionality through Quandoo, restaurants now have technological tools to meet their customers’ demands for speed and simplicity. The examples around the four main restaurant trends are fascinating:
This involves chefs in the kitchen, but also the decor and, obviously, appealing to all of our senses. Restaurateurs also do not hesitate to mix art and virtual reality, as in the Japanese restaurant Tree By Naked yoyogi park. All the senses are enhanced through a digital scene using robots and virtual reality at Zhen Wei Fang in New York and the dining room tables become places of play at Inamo in London.
A restaurant is fundamentally a place of community; indeed we’ve seen retail outlets invest in in-store restaurants to reflect this trend. Numerous initiatives show how the community element can be further strengthened. An experiment conducted in Japan has allowed differently-abled individuals to work in restaurants through the use of robots. A Brazilian restaurant has integrated blockchain to provide transparency on tracking the origin of its meat, and McDonald's launched a test restaurant dedicated to the environment incorporating trees in Chicago. Deliveroo has opened its first physical location in Hong Kong.
Restaurants are becoming more automated from waiters to chefs, all over the world. For example, in China the XCafé launched by JD.com has robots in the dining room as well as the kitchen. In Boston robots serve up healthy and inexpensive meals. Chatbot voice recognition or voice control is also becoming a staple of U.S. drive-throughs. Other examples show how easy dining out has become with augmented reality menus projected on tables, or a speedy service suited for time-restricted travellers in airports, as with the OTG chain.
Technology has a big role to play here too. This is a trend that exists at different levels; dishes adapted according to taste, personalised menus, weather-related menus, voice-controlled ordering, or completely unique dishes and ingredients. 3D printing is still in early stages but has been used to prepare desserts. Virtual reality is more commonly used to choose your burger customisation and sharing it live in the U.S.
You can download the trend book here.