9 New Hotel Trends You’ll See in 2022
Get ready to check in, and then check out all of the innovative new ways hotels are welcoming travelers this year.
It has been a very long two years for the travel industry, as people curtailed their adventures to help reduce the spread of COVID-19. But the good news is that hotels have taken this downtime to hyper-focus on making travelers happy. For 2022, this translates directly into exciting changes to hotel rooms, spas, entertainment and recreation, dining options, and customer service.
“Traveler preferences—particularly when it comes to hotels—have changed a lot over the past two years,” says Melissa Dohmen, head of brand PR at Hotels.com. “Demand for outdoor recreation activities, road trips, and pet- and family-friendly lodging has increased. Hotels, for their part, have been quick to adapt to the changing nature of traveler throughout the pandemic. Many properties offered ‘work from hotel’ packages last year when people adjusted to virtual and remote work. And they have enhanced cleaning measures and contactless check-in and check-out features, too.”
To get a pulse on what’s to come for everything from romantic getaways to family vacations and mini vacations, we checked in with hotel experts across the country. Find out what to expect when we all finally get to take the trips we’ve been dreaming about this year.
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Rolling out the red carpet for pets
According to the ASPCA, 23 million American households acquired a pet during the COVID-19 crisis, and the majority of surveyed pet owners are incorporating pets into their lifestyles. For hotels, this translates into rolling out the red carpet for four-legged traveling companions. “Travelers today are looking for accommodations that are 100 percent ‘pet-friendly’ instead of simply ‘pet tolerant,'” says Matt Schuyler, chief brand officer for Hilton.
Some highlights we’ve seen: a collaboration between Hilton’s Home2 Suites and Homewood Suites and Mars Petcare—a first-of-its-kind program that provides guests access to pet experts for questions about pet health, wellness, or behavior that may come up during their stay. Canopy by Hilton welcomes pups with a “Paws in the Neighborhood” program, where all pets receive access to a dog bed, food, water bowls, treats, and a guide to pet-friendly neighborhood activities.
Squeaky-clean and COVID-safe precautions
“Two years into the pandemic, COVID-19 safety is still top-of-mind for travelers,” says Casey Brogan, communications senior specialist at Tripadvisor. “In fact,” she adds, “70 percent of Americans say that cleanliness measures of a hospitality business will be an important factor in their travel decision-making this year.” So get ready to see sparkling clean hotel rooms and common areas with properties explaining their cleaning protocols in advance of your stay.
You can also expect additional COVID safety measures ranging from complimentary masks and hand sanitizer to on-site COVID testing for travelers who need speedy results to fly. Before you pack your bags, make sure to check these air travel rules to know before flying again. Also, make sure you’re up-to-date on how much to tip hotel housekeeping.
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Holistic wellness offerings
To say that we’re all looking for a way to relax these days would probably be the biggest understatement of 2022. This likely explains why searches for hotels with in-room bathtubs and on-site spas are among the most in-demand, according to Hotels.com. In addition to an increase in traditional spa services being offered in 2022, expect to see wellness offerings such as sunrise yoga and meditation, and a greater shift towards plant-based diets and alternative menus. This includes non-alcoholic or lower-alcohol beverage options, says IHG Hotels & Resorts, which is offering zero-proof cocktails and has launched a tea partnership with Portland-based Steven Smith.
Cocktail hour celebrations
Not all travelers are jumping on the zero-proof bandwagon, however. In fact, according to a 2022 report from Hilton Hotels, tequila sales have increased by 209 percent in the last two years—that’s a whole lot of margaritas! As a result of this increased interest in premium spirits, expect to see some hotels rolling out cool new cocktail experiences, including speakeasies and open-air outdoor lounge spaces, with plenty of hand-crafted beverages to match.
Keyless check-ins and high-tech options
Those plastic key cards are sure to be one of the things you won’t see in hotels anymore. Contactless and convenient are the catchwords that Hilton uses to describe the future of hotel stays, according to Chris Silcock, Hilton’s executive vice president. Expect digital room keys to be big in 2022, with everyone from Hilton to Disney Resorts offering the opportunity to use a phone app to check into your room, order room service, and even open your room door!
Silcock says this “ensures our guests have seamless and contactless experiences … before arrival, at check-in, and in their guest room.” And while you’re thinking high tech, Rob DelliBovi, founder and CEO of RDB Hospitality, says to “look for hotel companies to explore the Web3 space, utilizing blockchain technology and cryptocurrency to individualize the booking process.”
Eco-conscious bathroom amenities
“Say goodbye to miniature toiletries!” says Jane Mackie, senior vice president of global marketing for luxury and upscale brands at IHG Hotels & Resorts. She continues, “This is a global effort to reduce single-use plastic waste, and is in direct response to the growing demand from travelers looking to travel more consciously.” As a result, expect to see lots of eco-friendly refillable options for shampoo, conditioner, and body wash in 2022. The only downside? Fewer chances to fill your suitcase with hotel takeaway mini toiletries.
Social gathering spots
Hotels with community spaces are on the rise, says Dohmen. Lodgings that are known for their common areas and group meeting facilities, such as Citizen M, Hoxton Hotels, and Graduate Hotels, are increasing in popularity as travel bounces back. Searches for these “sociable” properties are up double-digits compared with 2019 as people look to reconnect with friends and family (one reason for the increased bookings of hotels vs. Airbnbs). As you travel in 2022, you’ll see hotels adding social hubs and community-building spots, including outdoor patios, rooftops, and lounge spaces.
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Outdoor activities and ski amenities
We’re all looking for ways to get outside, and demand for hotels near national parks and outdoor recreation areas is through the roof, according to Dohmen. Hotels are also offering more hiking, biking, and outdoor experiences. “Skiing, in particular, has really grown in popularity, and with the Winter Olympics approaching, I think search interest will continue to climb,” she adds. In fact, searches for ski resorts and properties with ski shuttles and storage jumped into the top 25 most searched amenities on Hotels.com in 2021, so expect to see more of these services offered in the chilly months of 2022.
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Now more than ever, outdoor dining is crucial to the success of food and beverage outlets, says Jeff Crabiel, area general manager of the Bobby Hotel and The Westin Nashville. “Open-air spaces have moved from a necessity during COVID to the desired spot for fresh air and social environments.” For travelers, this means you’ll be seeing more open-air environments and more options for outdoor meals and drinks. For Crabiel, it’s also important to “fill [outdoor] space with live music and fun events,” a trend he expects to see in other communities as well.
Ready to pack your bags? Here are some hidden destinations that are perfect for the off-season.
- Melissa Dohmen, Head of Brand US PR, Hotels.com
- ASPCA; New ASPCA Survey
- Casey Brogan, Communications Senior Specialist at TripAdvisor
- IHG Hotels & Resorts; Sober & Spirited
- Hilton.com; Hilton and Mars Team Up
- Hilton; The 2022 Traveler, Emerging Trends
- Chris Silcock, Executive Vice President at Hilton
- Rob DelliBovi, Founder and CEO of RDB Hospitality
- Jane Mackie, Senior Vice President of Global Marketing for Luxury and Upscale Brands at IHG
- Jeff Crabiel, Area General Manager of Bobby Hotel and The Westin Nashville