A New Year dawns and with it comes a new set of challenges and opportunities for those of us in the hospitality industry. It’s easy to think of this industry as a static business, but like any ecosystem, it experiences changes both rapid and slow. New technologies, consumer demands and environmental pressures means that hospitality businesses have to adapt to stay ahead of the curve. Check out our round up of the anticipated hospitality trends that lie ahead in 2016.

Delivery

Food delivery by the likes of Uber is not just on the horizon, it’s already a reality in some countries. Smartphone users want to be able to sit at home, open an app and order food from fast-food and more top-end restaurants alike.

UberEATS along with heavy tech-hitters like Google, Amazon, Grub and Yelp are getting in on the food delivery game, handling the admin (fees, orders, personal info and actual pick up and delivery) between the hungry and the service industry. Expect South Africa to catch up soon.

Vegetables will take centre stage

Meat is meat and a man must eat, yes yes we know the story, but…it’s no longer true. As worldwide consciousness about the impact of animal husbandry and overfishing increases, guests are demanding more options if they are not eating animal or fish protein. More restaurants are expected to become veg-forward, promoting meat more as a side-dish or condiment to a veg-dominated menu.

If they do eat meat, your customers will want to know A) where it was from (expect a locavore question), B) what it was fed (cereal feeds or natural grass) and C) what it experienced (a cage, hormone injections and a bolt through the head or an open meadow plus lullabies in the tone of D minor?). Ensure your staff know the answers in advance.

Integrated tech

From hotel and restaurant-specific apps, to free wifi and other tech-based empowerment initiatives, your guests want it all. When they get into their hotel room, they want to be able to watch their TV shows off their own Netflix account, upload their run off their Apple watches and seamlessly access the room’s controls (aircon, lights, entertainment) while using their personal info on your company’s system.

Reputation management

Customers love social media and rating services like Trip Advisor and they can be brilliant for your business. They can also do damage. It is essential that you as a hotel or restaurant are quick to respond and deal with any issues that may arise. Staying quiet or ignoring the problem, will only cause more damage in the long term.

The Customer is still king (except now we listen to them even more)

Global trends from veganism to Banting are no longer restricted to your difficult daughter-in-law’s dietary requirements or your dad’s new regime to drop some kilos. The trends that dominate cookbooks and conversations will show up in more and more restaurant kitchens. Why? Because that’s what people want. Working in a couple of dishes that cater do specific dietary requirements means that when the choice is between your place and another establishment, the fact that you offer choice means you will have the edge.

Self Service

In much the same way that you can check-in at the airport on your own, checking into hotels will become more and more tech-based as companies downsize and travellers prefer a little less interaction (sometimes using a machine is easier than queuing to chat to the concierge. Similarly, many restaurants will walk the line between fast food style self service and a higher quality of meal. By encouraging guests to go to counters, choose what they want and have it brought to them, the result is guests feel empowered and the restaurant experiences reduced staff pressure.

Clean and Green

Customers are more clued up than ever before. They want less food laced with preservatives and additives and more natural food free from chemicals. If your staff can’t explain what the food is and how it was made, you’re asking for trouble.

Similarly, customers increasingly want to be reassured that your restaurant or hotel is sustainable ad eco-friendly. Travellers and diners are willing to pay more for a clean, green, guilt-free experience. Do you have a plan to deal with your waste water? Do you recycle? Are you buying local? How do you deal with renewable energy concerns? And what about increased water scarcity? What steps are you taking to save water? Get in touch with our consultants to order waterless hand-sanitizers that help your business save water.