Four Consumer Trends Shaping Guest Expectations in 2019

Virtual Assistant Voice Technology

SINGAPORE—Sabre Corporation, a technology provider to the global travel industry, this week released a study in partnership with TrendWatching, which reveals the top consumer trends that will shape the hospitality industry in 2019 and beyond.

“The hospitality industry is always reinventing itself, constantly adapting to the changing expectations of travelers,” said Clinton Anderson, president of Sabre Hospitality Solutions. “As a result, digital transformation has become a rising priority for hoteliers due to its ability to generate more targeted, personalized offers. Ultimately, shifts in how individuals interact with technology, brands, and even space translate directly into new, untapped opportunities for hoteliers.”

1Virtual Companions 

While time-pressed travelers may wish to avoid other people during their stay, others will welcome companionship—even in virtual form, according to the Sabre report. Travelers deeply accustomed to digital assistants, chatbots, and more will look to the next evolution of artificial intelligence. They will seek out virtual personalities that have the power to entertain, educate, and befriend. The presence of virtual digital assistants has grown incrementally since 2011 and shows no sign of stopping.

2Breaking Bricks 

Traditional brick-and-mortar retailers are expanding into hospitality, building immersive brand experiences for their customers and providing an entirely new breed of competition for traditional players while delighting loyal fans. According to the report, social media feeds have become saturated with picture-perfect travel snapshots of branded lifestyles, and as a result, consumers have ever-higher standards when shopping. Brands hold the capacity of reaching overstimulated customers by launching unique partnerships to cut through the noise in unexpected locations.

3Magic Point of Sale

Using their devices to summon a “magic point-of-sale,” travelers can engage with establishments, browse products, test, and purchase in innovative new ways, the report found. Smart brands are using technology to gain rich data on consumer preferences and habits, and are leveraging innovative channels like these to reach them in the right place, at the right time. Globally, the augmented reality (AR) market hit $1.1 billion in 2018 and is expected to reach $7.9 billion by 2023. The maturing of virtual reality (VR) and AR revolutionizes how and where consumers shop and engage with brands.

4Changing Workforce

The report found that proliferation of on-demand services and co-working environments are transforming expectations around work and travel. A growing cohort of professionals are making travel their main priority by becoming digital nomads. The explosion in gig economy and freelancing platforms indicate that consumers are embracing alternative lifestyles that don’t tie them down to a specific company, location, or even daily schedule.