Even though the team here at the North Ocean Hotel in Blackpool are gearing up for Christmas, we still have time to look further ahead into the new year. After what has been a tumultuous year this year, what on earth can we expect in the next? Our crystal ball is only powerful enough to look at the hotel industry right now, so that’s where I’ll begin.

Social media

I think the role of social media will both change and stay the same. I think it will continue to influence hotels and guests in terms of feedback and reviews but will do less to influence by example. Many guests that I speak to here at the hotel say they are getting a bit bored with it all. Reviews and feedback are fine, chatting and meeting people is great but the rest has a lot less worth.

I tend to agree and think there will be a shift away from social media being the centre of all things to merely being one of the many things we use during our day.

Less automation not more

One trend I definitely see coming is the reduction of automation in hotels and an increase in the human element. Robot butlers are fun for a minute or so but that’s it. Part of staying in a hotel and going on holiday is to connect with different people. Removing that connection removes something from the hotel experience.

There was a lot of noise around self-check-in for hotels, keyless entry for doors, more robot butlers and other technological advances. I think these will be for novelty or work somewhere like Japan, but not here. The greeting, the receptionist, the first and last touch are all too important to trust to a machine. If a guest wanted to deal with machines and automation all day, they would stay at work.

Shift away from guest types

Baby boomers, millennials, Gen X and Gen Y all still exist but the distinctions will mean less as time goes on. There is a definite mixing of guest types in our own hotel and in those of our contemporaries. You don’t just get primarily older guests or younger guests or guests of a certain type any more. It’s a real mix and I think the hospitality industry is better for it.

I love meeting and greeting new people and couldn’t care less what group sociologists pigeonhole them into. People are going their own way and I think that will accelerate over the coming years.

More direct booking

Travel websites and all those sites that offer to find cheap rooms do well but I am seeing a rise in people contacting us direct. I think this will increase over the coming year as guests realise we can offer better prices when they contact us directly over the phone. Booking via our website is fine, but if you’re after a deal there is nothing like coming to us and asking.

Other hoteliers in Blackpool I have spoken to have said they have been getting more direct enquiries recently too. It’s good news for all of us. We don’t have to pay commission to the travel websites and the guest gets a cheaper stay. Win win!