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Post COVID-19, Authentic Experiences & Community Will Shape Hotels

In many respects it is still too early to foresee what hotel industry trends will be triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, it is possible to imagine that our attitudes towards mass tourism may have changed permanently.

Here are three hospitality concepts we believe could come to the fore once the crisis is over.

Experiential Tourism
There will be a shift away from mass tourism towards the more “empathic hotel”; smaller, boutique hotels that create a new, bespoke connection with the customer.

These hotels aim to serve the guest's lifestyle and attitude to life, to create a more emotional experience. Customers are looking to gain new experiences and develop themselves. Experiences with social components, such a jungle tour or music festival, will prove popular. There will be less emphasis on the service and more on the experience and attitude to life.

Such travellers will attach great importance to booking directly with the hotel and not via platforms such as  An example of this type of hotel is being built in Bad Goisern near Hallstatt, where a so-called ‘reading hotel’ is being developed. Here the rooms will be dedicated to various publishers and they are working on long-term partnerships with publishers, authors and creatives in order to differentiate themselves from mass tourism.People want more than a bed and a bathroom from a hotel. Sharing experiences with the guest creates the emotional ties that are so important.

For business travellers - who no longer want to differentiate so much between their private lives and business trips - the hotel is increasingly becoming an extension of their home. Unlike in the past, when hotels were mostly oriented towards luxury and created an anonymous atmosphere, the ideal hotel-home looks more and more like a designer boutique hotel. It creates a club-like atmosphere that young people especially appreciate who are looking for a familiar environment and continuity in lifestyle - regardless of whether they are at home or travelling  The aim is also no longer to separate a hotel from the neighbourhood, but to make it permeable. For example, the concierge not only recommends their own restaurant, but also the coffee house around the corner. And in return you also offer co-working spaces in the lobby, in which residents of the area come to work.

Sustainable concepts will continue to grow. The latest developments include a vegan suite at the London Hilton and a purely vegan hotel in Scotland. The desire for experience also plays a role, because many who stay there are not vegans at all. On vacation people are looking for experiences and stories that they can pass on, whether on social media or in person.

The travellers of the future will want to temporarily immerse themselves in local culture. Younger travellers, in particular, no longer choose their destination primarily based on individual countries or sights but look for moments that create an emotional connection to the place and other people. These travellers of the future value a local mindset, relationships and authenticity - they no longer want to move from one mass tourist attraction to the next, detached from the “real life” around them. 

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Oona Horx-Strathern

Oona Horx-Strathern is a trend and future expert, writer and speaker. She has been a trend researcher, consultant, speaker and author for more than 20 years. Her books address the history of futurology, architecture and the future. Together with her husband, Matthias Horx, she founded the Zukunftsinstitut, where she collaborates on many studies.

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