Innovation, technology and digital nomads are affecting global travel trends and will eventually define the future of hospitality, Deloitte Clients and Industries Leader Vasilis Kafatos said during the recent 7th Delphi Economic Forum that recently took place in Delphi, Central Greece.
According to Kafatos, the number of digital nomads will reach 1 billion worldwide by 2035.
“Digital nomads are a very interesting segment of the tourism sector, especially for hospitality enterprises that seek for ways to offset loss from business travel and extend the season,” he said.
Meanwhile, wellness, health, safety and sustainability, as well as tech seekers and innovation travelers, are also affecting tourism trends worldwide, creating new needs for travelers and additional challenges for the hospitality industry.
Kafatos said hoteliers are up against the following challenges:
– the adoption of digital applications in all aspects of the hospitality experience
– the implementation of environmental and social sustainability practices
– the employment of well-trained staff.
The design of future hotels
Moreover, during the forum, Kafatos referred to the architectural design of new hotels.
Citing data from a recent Deloitte study, he highlighted the following trends in hotel renovation and new development projects in Europe:
– Hotels are focusing on the authenticity of structural elements, architecture, and materials as well as on environmental sustainability with emphasis on green spaces, nature etc.
– Smart technology is evident in all aspects of operation. For example many hotels create “instagrammable” areas suitable for photographing and posting on social media.
– Flexibility is another developing trend in hospitality and refers to the ability of hotels to change and adjust their facilities (conference halls or even rooms) to the needs of their customers within hours.
In addition, Kafatos said that all the more hotels are depending on big data and artificial intelligence to develop new digital solutions that will optimize their operation in areas such as energy, health and safety; enhance the customer experience, and ultimately lead to the adoption of augmented and virtual reality solutions.
Despite the increasing role of technology in everyday life, Kafatos underlined that hospitality will always depend on people.
“Technology will not replace humans and hospitality will always remain a person-to-person service,” he said.
During the forum, Vasilis Kafatos participated in a session titled “The future of hospitality” and spoke with Fortune Greece Senior Editor Maria Akrivou.