Embracing the new era of hospitality


Gone are the days when hospitality was solely about providing guests a comfortable room, apartment or just somewhere to rest their heads for the night. Guests are now looking for holistic stay experiences that address their needs. Therefore, how operators stay on top of these evolving trends and deliver on stay experiences through their respective brands, has become extremely important. The new era of hospitality recognises these evolving needs of the modern traveller.

For example, the lines between business and leisure have become increasingly blurred, leading to the rise of ‘blended’ travel and the industry is adapting to this paradigm shift. Coworking spaces equipped with state-of-the-art technology and high-speed internet, are becoming integral to the guest experience. These spaces allow guests to seamlessly transition between work and leisure, leading to the rise of ‘workcations’, which ensures that productivity and relaxation coexist harmoniously.

Our industry is also embracing cutting-edge technologies, such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), to create a seamless and personalised journey for each guest. From the moment a reservation is made, AI algorithms analyse vast amounts of data to anticipate and exceed guest expectations, ensuring that every touchpoint is tailored to their unique preferences.

We took our first step into the future of personalised travel exploration with the pilot launch of Cubby, a ChatGPT-powered web chatbot earlier this year. Cubby is designed to play the role of a ‘travel buddy’ to all guests. With its AI prowess, Cubby is equipped to provide travel insights including destination highlights, accommodation recommendations, must-visit attractions, suggestions for shopping and adventure activities, as well as the best ‘Instagram-worthy’ spots, to name a few.  There are also plans for Cubby to become multichannel in its later phase, seamlessly integrating with different applications for greater convenience.

Sustainability has also taken centre stage as the industry recognises the importance of minimising its environmental impact and preserving our planet for future generations. Sustainable travel has gained prominence among travellers who are increasingly becoming socially conscious and aware of their environmental footprint. With this in mind, hospitality players need to ensure sustainable practices are incorporated across hotel initiatives and the overall stay experience.

Further, at Ascott, we are witnessing a returning trend towards family vacations and multi-generational trips as guests look to travel as a way to reconnect post-pandemic. Travellers are increasingly seeking stay experiences to forge a strong sense of connection. This goes beyond social interactions. It includes connecting with oneself, the community, and the environment.

Against this backdrop, we unveiled the refresh of our Somerset brand to meet travellers’ growing expectations for sustainability while at the same time ensuring they can immerse themselves in a truly inclusive, harmonious experience.

It’s an exciting time for the industry. As we embrace the future with open arms, we believe the spirit of innovation is what will enable us to provide a world class experience that is relevant for our guests in this new era of hospitality.

* The author is Managing Director, Brand & Marketing, The Ascott Limited