The Hospitality Trends That Will Define 2021

Ready to Travel Again

With many longing for the days of waking up at 4:30am to make their early vacation flight, arranging for their neighbors to pick up their mail, and having that sneaking suspicion that they forgot to pack something... but just can’t remember what, the majority are ready to travel again.

According to a recent Airbnb survey, 54% of Americans have either already booked a trip or plan to travel during 2021.

Of course, travel in a post-COVID world will look a bit different. So as travel reopens, here are the emerging trends that will define the hospitality industry in 2021.

More Privacy

Most travelers won’t be seeking out crowded tourist spots in 2021. After over a year of isolation and being cooped up at home, most will plan trips to enjoy time with close friends and family. This means travelers will gravitate towards resorts that offer a wider variety of private lodging options such as villas or cabins when compared to a traditional hotel.

More privacy also provides an additional level of safety, allowing guests to feel like they can travel and enjoy a vacation while still practicing social distancing and limiting the number of encounters with people outside of their immediate circle. 

Longer Stays for Work and Play

The hospitality industry will also see travelers booking longer stays. Guests will continue to be cautious, limiting the amount of travel needed during a vacation. Staying in one location for an extended time allows travelers to avoid extra plane rides and limit COVID risks from staying at multiple lodging options.

Plus, longer stays allow guests to ensure that they’ll actually have a vacation! As coronavirus restrictions remain fluid and can change, booking several short trips poses a risk that they may be canceled if COVID spikes and resorts or hotels need to close temporarily.

Remote work opportunities have also encouraged longer stays. Taking advantage of working from anywhere, travelers are mixing work and play. The idea of working against a beautiful backdrop of a lakefront or beach is highly appealing to many people. Resorts that offer rooms with reliable Wi-Fi and desk space will attract more travelers looking to take their work on the road.

Outdoor Experiences

While pandemic restrictions are lifting, many travelers still remain careful, avoiding crowded indoor spaces. In 2021, resorts will benefit by providing plenty of outdoor spaces, including patios for dining, picnic tables, meeting spaces, and outdoor recreation and activities.

Opportunities for hiking, fishing, boating, biking, firepits, and outdoor pools will entice more travelers who want plenty of activities and entertainment options but without the worry of maneuvering through packed indoor spaces and crowded amenities. 

Touchless Tech

Naturally, resorts will build upon their current cleanliness and hygiene protocols as ensuring that guest health and safety continues to be the main priority. This means travelers can enjoy online check-ins and check-outs, contactless room service, and mobile apps for ordering and dining, making it easier to employ social distancing and limited contact with others.   

Going Green

While implementing green practices isn’t new to the hospitality industry, sustainability will continue to be a significant trend moving into 2022. Travelers now specifically seek out resorts that engage in sustainable practices such as reducing food waste, sourcing local ingredients and produce, energy-efficient appliances, lower water usage, stopping the use of one-time-use plastics, and choosing ethically made and organic linens.

Resorts that go green will enjoy a competitive edge especially as younger travelers of the Gen Z and millennial generations place a high value on resorts that prioritize sustainability and often will be willing to pay more to stay at green-friendly resorts.

Flexible Policies

While many are anxious to travel again, some may still be hesitant to book in advance due to changing pandemic restrictions. Offering flexible cancellation policies and guaranteed full refunds will encourage guests to book their trip. As many experienced job insecurity over the past year, budget-conscious travelers will be more likely to stay at resorts with flexible policies.

Frank Jermusek

Frank Jermusek, J.D.

President / Managing Director

Frank Jermusek is a Principal at SVN | Northco headquartered in Minneapolis, Minnesota. SVN has become one of the most recognized commercial real estate brands in the world with over 200 offices globally.