I’m not sure if it is an age thing, but this year seems to have flown by faster than any previous one.
2023 has been a lot, but one thing it has not been is dominated with news of Covid. Unfortunately, the headlines have been flooded with heart-breaking images of war, hostages and devastation, and feelings of helplessness are high.
Yet still we go on and we do what we can, every day, to make our lives and those of the people around us as comfortable as possible within our power and capacity. In a business context, Responsible Hospitality gives us the perfect platform for this. Sustainability means something different to all of us and needs to be framed in a localised context. That’s where Responsible Hospitality comes in as it allows us permission to focus on actions that generate the most impact where we live and work. You will hear me talk much more about that in the New Year.
Meanwhile, let’s close on 2023. If I could choose my word of the year it would be “grateful”; closely followed by “slowing down”. I lost my father and my father-in-law within 6 months this year and the one thing that has got me through is to consciously elect feelings of gratefulness every time the waves of sadness showed up. Grateful for the time we had and the memories we made. The other inner work that has kept me sane and helped me avoid burnout is to assess my personal capacity and embrace it in my context, without the shackles of anyone else’s expectations of me. That is liberating and something I wish for us all.
What would be your word of 2023? “Grateful” did not – unfortunately - come out top for those organisations who spend time deliberating this very question every year.
What do you think it is? AI, right? Wrong!
The Oxford University Press went with “Rizz” – which I have to say, clearly has not yet made its way to the Austrian countryside because I had never even heard of it :)
“Rizz” is defined as someone who has a whole lot of charisma apparently and is simply a shortened version of the word charisma itself. It pertains “to someone’s ability to attract another person through style, charm, or attractiveness”. I’m a bit stumped by this one, but a) I am happy it beat Swiftie from the shortlist, and b) I can see how we need a whole lot of “rizz” to break through the noise in the online space.
Interestingly, America’s oldest dictionary, Merriam-Webster, went with “Authentic”, and was driven by a “substantial increase in online searches for the word”, which in turn has been driven in part by “stories and conversations about AI [Artificial Intelligence]”.
But someone did of course choose “AI”! The Collins Dictionary states that “the use of the term has quadrupled this year”, and AI has simply been “the talking point of 2023”.
It is no surprise that AI has taken the top spot on one of these platforms. Euromonitor also list "Ask AI" first in their 2024 Global Consumer Trends report ¹, and that is what we are here to talk about today in the context of hospitality, so let’s dive in and find out more.
#1 Global Consumer Trend for 2024:
Chat GPT, the first Generative AI platform, reached 100 million users within 2 months of launch. No other software has achieved that. Euromonitor points out that “As consumers keep testing the capabilities of this technology, they’ll expect brands to do the same.” ¹
Before we go on, let’s embrace the elephant in the room. Do you really have to get on this train? No, of course you don’t, and I totally understand the argument that AI could be used to move us too far away from personalised nuance, in life and in business.
However, there are many ways that AI can help us to streamline our work, but honestly, I don’t think it saves as much time as many of us think. At least not if you use it right. You can ask Chat GPT anything and it will spill out something generic. Here is the crux… what you do with that content is what will keep your voice unique.
For example, you could ask Chat GPT to give you some information on the top 10 places to visit in your destination. Once you have the basics, you then put your own spin on the text to make it relevant to where you are. How long does it take to get to these places from your hotel for example? What would you recommend to take with you? Are there any upsells or cross-sells you can work into the text, such as purchasing a packed lunch from your hotel, or visiting the workshop of the producer of the handmade soaps you have in your bathrooms?
Chat GPT can help you to write job descriptions, make suggestions on how to respond to a difficult email, even help you with the structure for your Press Kit. BUT, it is what you do with the text it generates that matters.
Many quote the future of AI to be focused on improving personalisation and enriching the consumer experience. According to the Euromonitor report, “More than 40% of consumers would be comfortable with voice assistants offering personalised recommendations, but less than one-fifth felt the same about using bots to answer complex customer service questions.” ¹
Hospitality is about people, and I believe it will remain so. We have the choice between losing our unique voices through reams of bland content, or to cleverly utilise this new technology to help us enhance the customer experience with more personalised options.
Are any of you using an AI-generated chat bot already? If so, post your experience below in the comments section right at the bottom of the page.
More to come on using AI in your hospitality business in 2024.
#2 Global Consumer Trend for 2024:
Moving on, the second global trend is sweetly called “Delightful Distractions”. I love this one! For me is translates as “wow moments” and it offers those of us in the hospitality industry a free pass to design and market experiences that make memories, and that our guests want to share with others.
Euromonitor uses the words “bliss” and “goodness” as they talk about Delightful Distractions. They say that “Brands that find opportunities to sprinkle in bliss—from touchpoints to campaigns—will build strong connections with customers.” ¹
Here is your opportunity to really set your uniqueness free by curating experiences that matter. That however, can only be achieved successfully when you have done the work to a) understand your audience, and b) to define your own values and passion. This is a WHOLE lot easier when you are supported by someone who does not have an emotional connection to your business. I now offer 60-minute action sprints where we go deep on just one topic, such as defining your business values and purpose, or recrafting your unique, flagship offer. The sessions are online, one-on-one, totally personalised, and specifically curated to get you the outcome you needed a bit of support with. To find out more, fill in this quick form and I will get back to you. There is no better time than the New Year for this right?!
Related to “Delightful Distractions”, there is something you can get on with right away though. Have you heard of “Dopamine Dressing”? It’s a fashion trend that is designed to boost mood and sprinkle our days with that feel-good factor. It involves bold colours, such as “tangy orange, hot pink, and lemon yellow”, mixed with an element of dare and excitement. While fashion might seem a far cry from running a hospitality business, why not consider livening up the décor in your rooms and lounges with splashes of these daring colours. They will shine on Instagram, not to mention stop the scroll, when you capture them in a new set of high-quality pics of your property too!
#3 Global Consumer Trend for 2024:
The third trend is – in my opinion - a little disappointingly called “Greenwashed Out”. While I adore Euromonitor’s report, I am a little saddened that this trend seems to be clouded in discontent and frustration. The report claims that:
“Consumers can’t tackle the climate crisis alone. They’ve been taking steps to live sustainably but also question whether companies and governments are using all possible resources to make a true difference. People are Greenwashed Out. They know their eco-friendly choices help to an extent, but real change needs to be a collective effort. So, consumers are pushing the responsibility back on businesses.” ¹
While I agree that businesses who get ahead today by focusing on reducing their impact will definitely be the winners in the not-so-distant-future, there is also a certain responsibility that lies with the consumer. We all have the power to choose that iceberg lettuce wrapped in plastic, or the fresh, slightly damp, unwrapped one next to it. We can choose to fly less and stay longer. We can turn off our lights or charge our phone in the evening instead of all night long. Yes, we won’t radically change the future of the planet just with those actions alone, but consciousness and awareness breed consistency, and that is what we are often lacking.
Imagine if we all changed the way we do things just a little, that impact would be huge. I don’t think it is fair to push the responsibility wholly onto businesses.
Still, as hospitality business owners it is part of the job, and getting started now will stand you in good stead for a thriving business in the future. The European Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD) came into force on 5 January 2023, and it requires all large companies and listed SMEs in the EU to provide detailed sustainability reports, encompassing environmental impact to social responsibility. This directive expands on previous regulations, demanding greater transparency and accountability.
But what does this mean to smaller, independent businesses? Even if you are not located in the EU but you do business with an operator who is based there, this Directive will indirectly affect you. The companies who must report now, are being asked to assess and report on their supply chains, which means they will be asking you – as a supplier – for detailed information on your supply chain, as well as your carbon emissions data and other relevant sustainability-related information.
Getting started today is a wise move. It is much easier to do this work without pressure than with it. If you have questions and would like to know more, hop on a free call and we’ll discuss it in detail and in the context of your business, your location, and your services. There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to applying sustainability to individual businesses, so let’s personalise the conversation together to optimise your ability to generate change where it matters.
#4 Global Consumer Trend for 2024:
The fourth trend is called “Progressively Polarised”, and for the purpose of this blog - to connect these trends to the hospitality industry - it needs to be taken in the context of your values and purpose as a business.
52% of customers only bought from companies or brands that they completely trusted in 2023, ² “with certain shoppers supporting brands that align with their values. Purchases often reflect the causes they care about or how they want to be perceived. Social responsibility, political affiliation or sustainability initiatives will motivate spend.” ¹
While these decisions are perhaps easier and more instant when it comes to choosing fair trade coffee or chocolate or refill packs of shampoo, the idea is still applicable to the hospitality industry in that consumers are choosing businesses that support issues that matter to them.
The trick is to be authentic and not contrived, and that the issues you choose to focus on match your brand identity, and that you carefully and strategically communicate your efforts. Linked to the previous trend of focusing on sustainability action, companies that “baked social responsibility into their principles from inception have the upper hand here”. ¹
Maybe that is by offering jobs to refugees, or differently-abled people, or by supporting a local charity that helps find homes for orphaned children etc. The one thing I know from experience, is that the only way to be able to efficiently communicate what you do, and ensure consistency and continuation over time, is that the action chosen MUST be aligned with your own values. If not, it will fail. Defining your values is not a long-drawn out job. A strategic series of questions will get you there fast and painlessly, and you will be amazed by the results.
After completing my six-session Purpose-Driven Marketing Course, a client said “I was feeling lost on how to communicate my business and values. Sarah is knowledge, clarity, empathy and such a joy to listen to. Every single session was amazing. With this one-on-one coaching programme, I have learned so many tips and techniques to make my days and ideas flow. Exactly what I was needing!”.
If you need that inspiration and clarity, it is just one free, 30-minute discovery session away. Schedule your call here.
#5 Global Consumer Trend for 2024:
The fifth trend is called “Value Hackers” and is all about maximising budgets without sacrificing on quality. With 74% of consumers being concerned about the rising cost of living, and 53% saying they are opting to cook at home instead of eating out, ² we need to get ingenious when it comes to encouraging people to choose our restaurants and hotels.
One way to do this is to cater directly towards special events such as anniversaries and birthdays, as that is when people will spend some of their hard-earned money to indulge the event. Another is to offer cooking courses that are focused on a specific outcome such as “Healthy meals in less than 15 minutes”, or “Family meals with less than 5 ingredients”, etc.
There will always be someone looking to travel or to eat out. Our job is to understand our target audiences well enough to put something irresistible right in front of them. This comes back to targeted marketing that reaches the right people consistently throughout their decision-making journey. Social media provides the perfect platform for this with short-form video content leading the consumption curve. So, it’s time to get creative, and also time to consider alternative target markets who could bring in extra income.
#6 Global Consumer Trend for 2024:
And the last trend for 2024 is “Wellness Pragmatists”. That’s quite a mouthful, right?! This is an interesting one as it is all about “real results and simple solutions”. ¹ It’s about optimal health without hassles indicating that consumers want quick, effective solutions that enhance their bodies and minds.
The hospitality industry is super well positioned to take advantage of this trend, and it might mean doing the work we just mentioned to consider alternative target markets who are available to you in your local area, as well as catering to those who come to you for overnight stays. The opportunity I see here for hospitality is to provide lifestyle improvements through education.
Take a look here at what people are looking for help with. Imagine offering a few workshops led by a local expert that tackles and offers solutions for these issues?
What a valuable add-on to your current offer that would be!
So, that’s it! We are through the Top 6 Global Consumer Trends for 2024 as defined by Euromonitor. I know it might feel like a lot, (in fact that was South Africa’s word of the year – Kuningi – literally meaning “It’s a lot”), but getting the right support with the right problem will move you forwards faster to a thriving 2024.
I’ve been where you are, and I am here now, to help you move forward with grace, and as cost effectively and painlessly as possible. My calendar slots are open so schedule your call here and I look forward to meeting you in the New Year.
Meanwhile, if you want to assess where you are in regard to marketing and leading your business, check out the Marketing Success Scorecard to get a free overview. It’s free, takes just a few minutes and you will receive personalised feedback to help you start the New Year with confidence and clarity.
² Euromonitor International Voice of the Consumer: Lifestyles Survey, fielded January/February 2023 (n=40,691)