In 2018, medieval scholar Michael McCormick nominated 536 as “the worst year to be alive” because of extreme weather events probably caused by a volcanic eruption early in the year, causing average temperatures in Europe and China to decline and resulting in crop failures and famine for well over a year.
TIME magazine’s Stephanie Zacharek has declared 2020 as the worst year ever in a cover story that may resonate with many of us living in times of pandemic. With hopes and not-so-distant dreams of a vaccine ending the plight of populations around the world, the hospitality and F&B industries continue to fluctuate, with reports from key industry players steering clear of rocking the boat in the most diplomatic of ways.
While crystal-balling 2021 may deem inefficient at this point, predicting upcoming trends may just be the most positive approach for now. According to industry analysis, a higher level of customer service is definitely in the cards. Guests can expect hotels to up their guest-satisfaction game, catering to a more cautious consumer with demands that may go beyond what we would traditionally witness in hospitality settings.
A rise in staycations may be stating the obvious, but it’s also noteworthy to study new age groups and classes, which may emerge with traveller profiles that require a certain type of service and product; F&B will need to follow suite, adapting fine dining concepts to more hip, storytelling experiences while eluding accessibility to ensure footfall. Failure to do so may result in delivery winning the food game, at least for a substantial period of time.
While hotels will continue to focus on hybrid offerings and sustainability, home-away-from-home vibes will be in demand. After spending long periods of time within their comfort zones, guests will be seeking cosy, reliable experiences rather than grandeur and over-the-top luxury – a trend that may cause a shift in the industry as we know it, especially in cities like Dubai where glitz and glamour had previously led the way.
Looking back, has 2020 really been that bad of a year? Intimidating, probably, life-changing, most certainly, but transformational is the keyword we must pay the most attention to here, because in times ahead – even if we win the fight against the pandemic – will test even the savviest for adaptability and resilience, and we must be ready to face the challenge and earn the industry back its glory. Let’s welcome 2021 with open arms (and social distancing, until we’re told otherwise).