The hospitality industry has been through some rough times in the past two years, and it seems clear many things have changed forever, never to return or if they do, in a different form.
A recent stay at a highly rated ‘4-star property’ in the centre of Melbourne was a good example of how things may be moving in the future.
I booked the hotel through a well-known online booking site but was not advised that there wouldn’t be any housekeeping service during the whole of my 4-day stay due to covid restrictions.
This information was ultimately advised via a piece of paper in my room after I had checked in.
It should be noted here, that my stay was after all restrictions had been officially lifted!
There was no option provided for a linen change during the stay and if fresh towels, soap, shampoo, tea, sugar or any other amenities were required, I was advised to call Guest Services. I duly complied when the essentials, including toilet paper and coffee were running low, and it took 14 hours to get them delivered to my room. I didn’t see a single member of the housekeeping staff on the floors throughout my entire 4 day stay.
The hotel restaurant was open limited hours for breakfast, but little else, and as for Room Service food, well it was so limited the options at the local 7-Eleven seemed positively gastronomic!
We have all heard about the enormous labour shortages in the industry, so I initially felt quite sorry for the hotel – perhaps they were short staffed, everyone had Covid or were concerned about my health, but on calling a couple of acquaintances in other 4-star properties in the same price range and mentioning my concern at the plight of the industry, surprisingly they all advised that all daily housekeeping services were provided at their property, full service restaurants and in-room dining was available and there were no particular issues.
I concluded that either this hotel was very unlucky, very poorly run or it was the most blatant sign of profiteering to keep down costs that I have seen and was it a sign of things to come?
Fast Forward 30 years to the year 2052……enter the world of a new reality…
A look at my crystal ball and here are some possible predictions of things to come our way in the hospitality industry in the 3, 4 and some 5-star hotels.
- Automated check in with facial recognition replacing room keys, allowing access to room, lifts, car parks, etc.
- Only “Pay upfront” with a dollar amount deposit on your Credit Card, eventually returned after several weeks, when all in room usage (toilet/shower/tea facilities have been calculated)
- Complete cashless transactions systems will be in place
- Meter operated toilets and showers in guest rooms?
- Disposable sheets, (with the option to bring your own)
- Disposable towels (again with the option of bringing your own)
- Guest room amenities will no longer be provided (for environmental reasons of course!)
- Meter or Coin operated Coffee/Tea/Water dispenser (Mini Bars will have finally disappeared)
- TV/Internet only via your own internet/mobile account (Free Inhouse movies/TV will by then be history)
- Laundry/Dry Cleaning services will no longer be provided
- Onsite restaurants will be history and UberEATS or Menulog contracted to deliver your breakfast to the hotel entrance/lobby.
I can certainly think of a few more and their reasons, although i don’t want to scare off the younger generation that still sees hope in the industry.
Current rates of 5 star hotels in a European capital city and parts of the Middle East and Asia are already astronomical, somewhere between US$750 – 2,500 per room per night, so where will they be the year 2052?
Looking at rates in the early 90’s and going forward from today’s rates to 2052, a night stay in a decent hotel in London, Paris, Hong Kong or Singapore could set you back some US$5,000-10,000 a night!
What level of service will they provide that is different from today and, looking back 30 years to the early 90’s, what has really changed in terms of service?
The concierge is hopefully still around or maybe has been replaced by a computer screen that recognizes your face and welcomes you, his nametag most likely says Google, Bing or Yahoo…
The receptionist will have disappeared because menial jobs will no longer be on top of the list for a hotel apprentice or graduate. To carry luggage to your room will cost you dearly, if not in service fees, but in tips, and as for food, well if you are lucky, Room Service will still be around and a Coffee Shop that operates between 7am and 11pm.
It seems that the expectation of a comfortable bed, clean linen, fluffy towels and daily housekeeping at a reasonable price is still possible, but will this continue, or will hotel operators try to gouge every last cent from the gullible public, and of course, will they still want to pay in 2052?
I invite ideas and suggestions from industry leaders. What will the industry look like in 2052 and what will hotels be able to charge for a night’s stay?
Some of the younger generation may be able to see the benefits of progress, but for those of us that have lived through the golden age, when guests were welcomed with a smile at the door, we can only sit back and wonder if progress has ultimately killed good old-fashioned service.
About the Author
Karl Faux is a veteran Hotelier and Managing Partner with Elite Search – a leading hospitality recruitment firm.