The world of interiors is out of focus. Everywhere you look, the lines that have traditionally divided commercial from residential spaces and business from leisure activities are blurry. Offices are designed to feel more like homes; hospitals now resemble comfortable hotels; and hotels are evolving into hybrid spaces that no longer distinguish between business and leisure travelers.This mix of business and leisure is known in the hospitality industry as “bleisure,” a term coined by British consultancy and trend forecaster, The Future Laboratory. The term is gaining popularity—thanks in large part to the pervasiveness of mobile technology. A recent study by Herndon, Va.-based BridgeStreet Global Hospitality confirmed that 83 percent of respondents use time on business trips to explore the city they’re visiting. Additionally, the majority of respondents (60 percent) have taken bleisure trips with most respondents (30 percent) adding two vacation days to business trips.
Notably, 99 percent of hotel guests now travel with at least one device, according to a recent poll by SmartBrief. Of those, 45 percent travel with two devices and 40 percent travel with three or more. In short, technology is vital to guests whether they are on business, leisure or both, and they expect hotels to accommodate their need for connectivity.
But hospitality brands have to do more than add bandwidth to remain competitive. They need to embrace the mindset of a new generation of travelers that want to stay connected (online and in-person) and have authentic experiences in an environment with a distinct sense of place.
As the following trends illustrate, the hospitality market is changing. Here’s what you need to know to keep things in focus:
Seamless Integration of Technology
From automated check-in kiosks to smartphones that act as room keys, hotels today are investing in technology upgrades to keep up with an increasingly tech-savvy traveler. In fact, more than half of hoteliers in a recent SmartBrief poll revealed they are focusing their technology purchases in the coming year on the guestroom.
For example, properties, such as Hampton Hotels, now are redesigning guestrooms to include connectivity panels with USB ports and charging stations on the desktop or nightstand to prevent guests from having to move furniture, according to Smart- Brief. Further, services from companies, like Shodogg, offer guests the ability to sync their mobile devices with the in-room television, giving them access to their own libraries of movies, music, photos and social media.
However, while technology demands are greater than ever, they should never steal attention away from what matters most in hospitality settings: the guest.
“I think the best examples we’ve seen and the way that we approach technology with hospitality environments is that it must always enhance the experience and not necessarily be the experience,” notes Teddy Mayer, director of hospitality for Gensler, New York City.