How Your Hotel Stay Will Evolve in 2017

Digital concierges, on-demand services and locally inspired amenities are just a few trends to watch.

By Liz Weiss, Staff WriterJan. 27, 2017
By Liz Weiss, Staff WriterJan. 27, 2017, at 10:41 a.m.
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Look out for virtual reality technology, digital check-in and more game-changers.

An enviable location, superlative amenities and genuine hospitality have long been the hallmark traits of time-tested customer loyalty. Yet today, more and more guests are seeking cultural immersion and lifestyle-focused services, prompting leading hotels to raise the bar with forward-thinking amenities that reflect their local culture, character and environment. While some leading hotel brands are luring guests with customized, tech-savvy apps, others are reinventing the guest experience with flexible, multipurpose spaces, hyperlocal experiences and unique design accents. To help you stay in the know on the latest developments in the hospitality industry, U.S. News got the inside scoop from hotel executives and experts. Here are a few trends to watch.
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Expect state-of-the-art in-room entertainment technology.

To elevate the guest experience at Marriott, there's been a focus on personalized, digital programming. In 2015, Marriott became the first brand to offer Netflix to guests, and in 2016, Marriott Hotels launched curated TED Talks content. The property's unique guest room features "respond to this on-demand mentality that people have today," explains Matthew Carroll, vice president of global brand management at Marriott Hotels & Resorts, highlighting that the content is customized to individual guest's needs, offering more curated entertainment offerings. The Peninsula Hotels is also taking in-room technology up a notch, with cutting-edge tablets that allow guests to control everything from their TVs to lighting and temperature.
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Look out for virtual reality technology, digital check-in and more game-changers.

An enviable location, superlative amenities and genuine hospitality have long been the hallmark traits of time-tested customer loyalty. Yet today, more and more guests are seeking cultural immersion and lifestyle-focused services, prompting leading hotels to raise the bar with forward-thinking amenities that reflect their local culture, character and environment. While some leading hotel brands are luring guests with customized, tech-savvy apps, others are reinventing the guest experience with flexible, multipurpose spaces, hyperlocal experiences and unique design accents. To help you stay in the know on the latest developments in the hospitality industry, U.S. News got the inside scoop from hotel executives and experts. Here are a few trends to watch.

Expect state-of-the-art in-room entertainment technology.

To elevate the guest experience at Marriott, there's been a focus on personalized, digital programming. In 2015, Marriott became the first brand to offer Netflix to guests, and in 2016, Marriott Hotels launched curated TED Talks content. The property's unique guest room features "respond to this on-demand mentality that people have today," explains Matthew Carroll, vice president of global brand management at Marriott Hotels & Resorts, highlighting that the content is customized to individual guest's needs, offering more curated entertainment offerings. The Peninsula Hotels is also taking in-room technology up a notch, with cutting-edge tablets that allow guests to control everything from their TVs to lighting and temperature.

Digital apps are on the rise.

Several hotel brands are rolling out mobile-friendly digital tools that enable guests to connect with their hotel digitally and enjoy keyless hotel-room entry. Marriott offers an app that allows guests to check in and check out, use a "Mobile Key" as a smartphone key and make instant service requests. Hilton also offers an abundance of on-demand services, including a "Digital Key" check-in option available on the brand's app. "Through the Hilton HHonors app, our guests have the front desk, a concierge, a room key and event planner in the palm of their hands," says Geraldine Calpin, chief marketing officer at Hilton Worldwide. As an added bonus, the app allows guests to select their preferred room using a digital floor plan.

Delivering curated experiences will be a top priority.

"I think personalization is definitely a huge trend," Carroll says. At M Beta at Charlotte Marriott City Center, a hotel innovation hub, Marriott is testing a variety of new concepts, from multipurpose meeting spaces with tailored food and beverage options to an immersive kitchen, where guests can enjoy a special tasting with a local cheesemaker, Carroll explains. Meanwhile, luxury hotel brands such as Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts and The Peninsula Hotels offer exclusive experiences for guests, including culinary-inspired lessons with a Michelin-starred staff or a private museum tour.

Design will be at the forefront.

"We've really pushed ourselves into a modern and customized residential design aesthetic," Carroll says. From elevated walk-in showers rather than tub-shower combinations in guest rooms to rolling out flexible M Club Lounge workspaces, physical spaces are becoming more residential, he explains. Down the road, there will likely be other enhancements, such as different mood lighting catering to guests' preferences, he adds. Meanwhile, design-focused retailer West Elm recently made waves after announcing plans to open five furnished boutique properties by late 2018. Paris-based company AccorHotels also announced a new portfolio of shared living spaces, Jo&Joe, which will target millennials with co-living, design-forward urban locations.

AI technology and virtual reality platforms are elevating the guest experience.

"Hilton is harnessing the power of speech recognition and cognitive learning to deliver better guest experiences. We're beta testing innovations at our flagship property, the Hilton McLean Tysons Corner, including a mobile telepresence robot, Ava," says Jonathan Wilson, vice president of product innovation and brand services at Hilton Worldwide. Ava not only greets guests, but also helps visitors with tasks such as planning events and enabling face-to-face remote interactions. The Conrad Chicago hotel also offers a virtual reality concierge featuring 360-degree video of Chicago experiences with an Oculus Rift virtual reality headset. Meanwhile, Best Western launched a VR experience last year showcasing 360-degree video footage tours available through headset devices like Oculus.

Count on locally focused amenities.

It probably comes as no surprise that leading hotel companies aim to attract customers seeking authenticity with thoughtful hyperlocal amenities. Guests staying at Hilton properties, thanks to the company's partnership with Uber, can utilize the Local Scene tool to bookmark popular dining spots, nightlife options and points of interest. And with Hilton's Fun Finder tool available on the Hilton HHonors app, guests can review personalized recommendations along with exclusive local experiences. Meanwhile, luxury brands like Hyatt are also offering experiences that inspire guests to engage with the local culture, including the Andaz Scottsdale Resort & Spa, which offers studio tours and artist workshops.
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Liz Weiss, Staff Writer

Liz Weiss is a senior editor at U.S. News & World Report. With more than six years of ...  Read more

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