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12 May, 2020 Insights

Hospitality Futures

As it looks increasingly certain that summer holidays will be cancelled, we share some of the key takeaways from the Always Thinking ‘Hospitality Futures’ talk with trend forecaster and strategist Philippa Wagner.

When lockdown ends and for the longer-term, Philippa addressed questions around: how will we travel in future? Where will we stay? And what sort of experiences and services will we expect and need from hospitality brands?

While it is expected that there will be a travel boom after lockdown as people flock to their new found freedom, and operators offer deals to entice people to travel, in the longer term, things will be different.

The shift in consumer patterns that we saw before the outbreak of COVID-19 will continue and perhaps be accelerated. People were already buying less and concerns over the climate crisis and sustainability were shifting behaviour.

Now, 40% of us are reported to be considering making a few changes to the way we travel, 19% will permanently change our behaviours and 34% will be avoiding cities (YouGov poll).

Here are eight key points from Philippa’s talk that demonstrate how the hospitality industry could respond to the needs of consumers:

1. Everything has changed yet nothing has changed. Remember people are people and we still have the same basic human needs. Shelter, community, protection, belonging etc but our value expectations around these needs have shifted, accelerated or decelerated.

2. Space, distance and solitude will be new consumer values. This was beginning to happen anyway as people were searching out mindful moments, spaces and places to disconnect from the day to day. Global lockdown has accelerated this need as it has been forced upon us. In a recent YouGov survey only 9% of people want things to go back to the way that they were, and 85% want to see at least some of the personal or social changes they have experienced continue afterwards. As a result, people will continue to look for support in their new behaviours impacting space design and interior and architectural norms.

3. Home is where the heart is and the holiday and the office and the gym… Brands that will win out will be those who are able to be agile enough to deliver touch points in their own bricks and mortar, but also in people’s homes. Beyond lockdown, consider ways of your brand being beyond your own spaces.

4. Wellness will continue as a key trend across hospitality but has shifted to a more ‘self-care’ mindset where hotels have the opportunity to offer places of sanctuary away from day to day life & offer spaces to decompress, self indulge and offer hygienic safety.

5. Nature, local and transformational experiences will be a huge trend in 2020 and beyond as people look to stay close to home, support local communities and see travel as a time of transformation.

6. Community and co-operative mindsets will win. When the doors to your hotel, bar or restaurant open, take everyone on the journey with you from guests to staff. When building new spaces build for a collective campus mindset where people can come together whilst still designing in places for solitude and solo activity.

7. It is a journey not a destination. No-one is expecting you to get it right over night, but instead a collective journey built on honesty, imperfection and openness. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes – openly show your imperfections to demonstrate you are ‘trying’.

8. Forget the pivot! Stay true to your core brands but evolve. Everyone is talking about how businesses need to pivot, but if you don’t stay true to your core brand values then you will not deliver on your guest expectations. It is about making iterative steps to deliver small changes to support a post social distancing society.


Philippa Wagner is a trend forecaster and strategist, most recently heading up 23Lab Ennismore’s innovation lab, a forward-thinking hospitality lab with the sole aim of creating products and experiences for future guests. She has spent 20 years in trend forecasting, shaping the future of the world’s leading brands. Philippa has worked with a range of global clients across hospitality, apparel, food and drink, retail and technology to include Diageo, The NorthFace and Estee Lauder. Prior to joining Ennismore, she was Strategic Insights Director at The Future Laboratory, the world’s leading futures and insight consultancy.

Always Thinking is a Business Development consultancy for people within the built environment. They help clients look at BD differently through creative thinking. Their research-based approach encourages communication through inquisitive questioning, intelligent conversation and client-centric thinking – there is no hard-sell.