WATG’s Muriel Muirden forecasts the top hospitality and design trends to look out for in 2019.
The well-known design firm, WATG, has been breaking ground in hotel design for over 73 years, designing some of the most innovative and award-winning destinations around the globe. As another year ends, and 2019 beckons, Muriel Muirden, Executive Vice President and Global Director of Strategy, shares the top trends in the hospitality and travel sectors, that will be shaping the year ahead, including women-only journeys, ‘Voluntourism’, the return of ‘Slow Travel’ and hyper-personalisation.
Women are heading out of their comfort zone and seeking new high-octane adventures, including women-only journeys that empower and provide an opportunity to develop new skills and passions. This includes a growing interest in women-only ‘voluntourism’, that support local women in remote and undeveloped communities around the world. A 2018 survey of US women identified that 73% of women felt that travel makes them stronger. Now, 75% of cultural, adventure and nature travellers are female.
The Road More Travelled
By 2030 a mind-boggling 1.8 billion tourists will be on their road to discovery, impacting on heritage icons, must-see cities and outstanding natural environments across the world. A key topic for the year ahead will be how to maximise economic benefits while managing environmental and social downsides everywhere from Maya Bay in Thailand to the Everglades National Park in Florida; this is a global dilemma. Dispersing travellers to new icons and managing flows will require new investment in infrastructure, tourism and hospitality assets and pioneering marketing. Hoteliers need to join forces with governments and have a strong voice in developing solutions and innovative strategies.
It’s All About Me
Hyper-personalisation and the discovery of bespoke experiences will rise in 2019, as craving the unconventional and the dazzling Instagram moment will be rocket fuelled. From private dinners with influential local figures to obscure local festivals and events in breath-taking locations, the creation of the ‘one-of-a-kind’ will have strong resonance in the year ahead. Celebration travel will grow at a rapid pace and become stronger and more innovative in content.
Back To The Future
In unsettled times, nostalgia comes back into vogue. In this uncertain and somewhat crazy world, we believe it is back to the future with strong growth in slow travel for 2019 – river cruises, railway journeys, and heritage hotels are all hot topics. Even in the much-stereotyped China market, we are seeing shiny modern hotels losing out to heritage hotels, reflecting a desire to understand and embrace history in a rapidly changing built environment.