New trends are emerging, often from specific guest needs. Working remotely, for example, has become commonplace for many employees and is forecasted to become more than just a passing trend. This has pushed people towards bleisure, which was not the case before. At the same time, the wellness industry is becoming into a booming market and hospitality venues are well-positioned to take a large piece of it, especially those with existing spa facilities. People are asking for ways to respect their health and improve their mindset and hotels that invest in that will definitely have an advantage. Another important trend is personalisation and unique experiences that give back to local communities, such as niche properties, niche hotels, adventurous holidays, relaxation and retreats. Social responsibility makes it a priority for hotel teams to go the extra mile so that authenticity in service is conveyed in a smart way that is not intrusive.

Happy holidays

The average revenue per available room of European hotels increased just under 3% of the pre-pandemic period, which is largely driven by a strong ADR. A strong ADR growth will definitely help offset the supply chain and labour shortages that, together with inflation, are raising costs for the industry. Currently, the recent relaxation of travel restrictions in China will definitely boost hotel demand across Europe. We have already started seeing it and are meeting this demand. Increasing business and travel should offset any potential slow down if that is to happen. In leisure, TUI group, one of the largest groups globally, announced recently that its summer 2023 booking trends have remained strong with 8.3 million bookings to date, which is quite a number. Currently, 55% of its summer programme has been sold, highlighting Spain, Greece, Portugal and Italy among its successful destinations. Overall bookings for summer 2023 are 13% higher than last year and at 96% of pre-pandemic levels, which is important. At the same time, the second UNWTO World Tourism Barometer for 2023 shows that the rapid recovery of the sector continues. If we take into account that international arrivals reached 80% of pre-pandemic levels in the first quarter of 2023, it is going to be a highly successful summer underlined by a strong autumn period as well.

Taming turbulence        

In what is likely to be yet another turbulent year for economies and, naturally, the labour market, making sure that hotel members feel appreciated is particularly important for EHMA, which is why we concentrate as an association on specific activities that will help our members towards achieving this. I would say that there are five trends that we feel, as an association, are important to the well-being of employees: financial return and flexible work options; personal and career development; talent attraction and recruitment; the degree of technology adoption within the hotel industry, which will definitely have an impact; and environmental, social and governance concerns. To create insights into these areas we are in constant contact with our strategic partners, such as HOTREC, Ecole Hoteliére de Lausanne and the Nolan Cornell School of Hotel Administration and our supporters that include premium brands of different products and services related to the hospitality industry.

I strongly sense that we should not get carried away by current success, however. Instead, we ought to consider, in my humble opinion, three factors. First of all, the sky high rates we are experiencing currently are expected to come down at some point. The second is that labour shortages and challenges are here to stay. So, every one of us needs to cultivate a culture respectful of workers within our community and hotels. And lastly, the rhythm of digitalisation involvement is moving faster than ever, which means that we need to proactively dip, dive and adapt, as the hospitality industry has always been slow into adaptation. Now is the time to understand where we are heading and roll our sleeves up to get started, because it is moving quickly.