The tourism industry is seeing global trends that have the potential to transcend the domestic market. ANEW Hotels & Resorts Social Media Manager, Madri van der Westhuizen highlights several noteworthy trends expected to shape South Africa’s hospitality industry in 2024:
1. Consumer-centric marketing
In 2024, personalisation takes centre stage, reshaping the very essence of the hospitality landscape. Customer-centricity prioritises customer needs and preferences, tailoring business strategies to offer products, services, and experiences that foster strong, enduring relationships, driven by satisfaction and alignment with customer desires.
2. Curating personalised experiences
This year will see the era of curated experiences. Personalisation demands more than mere talk, with guests seeking tailor-made adventures and customised packages that align with individual preferences. Guests seek experiences modified to their preferences, mirroring the trend of personalised content consumption. Beyond conventional elements, the demand for excellence includes interactive food demonstrations and entertainment, echoing Robbie Williams’ call to “entertain you”.
3. The evolution of the Creator Economy
In the context of social media, a significant shift is palpable as influencers are starting to take a backseat, making way for content creators to flourish in the Creator Economy. This discernible shift is particularly evident as influencers of this transformative wave bring forth a distinct look and feel, often embracing the wanderlust aesthetic. Content creators have transcended the influencer label and they are now armed with top-notch videography and editing skills. They engage with audiences in an authentic manner, offering a fresh and cost-effective approach to content production.
4. Meta-integrated experiences
We are witnessing a transition from traditional experiences to Meta-integrated ones, such as moving from Go-Pros to collaborations such as Ray-Ban’s Meta Wayfarer Smart Glasses with built-in cameras. Although currently expensive for the domestic market, this trend signifies a move towards integrated experiences with everyday products.
5. The rise of Cancel Culture
Cancel culture remains influential, particularly in the hospitality industry. Not only do customers scrutinise brands, but guest reviews also play a pivotal role. Exceptional quality is noticed, and consumers are willing to pay more for worthwhile experiences from establishments with great reviews. Failure to meet expectations can lead to being “cancelled” if not delivering on promises. In addition, this can escalate to staff, as the social landscape reflects a heightened focus on employers providing greater value to their staff. Brands are under increased pressure to redefine their employee value propositions to align with evolving expectations.
6. AI’s growing role
During 2023 AI continued to be a game-changer, especially with recent developments such as Google’s experimental AI, which provides personalised, bite-sized information. Integrated AI such as the e-Concierge concept, is transforming guest interactions and information accessibility in their hospitality experiences.
However, challenges concerning meta source searches and the security of AI-integrated knowledge bases and content, emphasise the need for ongoing adaption.
7. Africanism in brand identities
A striking trend unfolds in the celebration of Africanism within brand identities. Hospitality establishments are now proudly showcasing the richness of African culture, seamlessly weaving it into the fabric of their brand narratives and edging it with culture and a modernistic twist.
As we navigate South Africa’s dynamic hospitality landscape in 2024, the integration of personalisation, the celebration of Africanism in brand identities, and the evolution of social media underscore our collective commitment to embracing change. By embracing and adapting to these trends, businesses not only meet but exceed the expectations of a discerning and diverse consumer base. The future of hospitality hinges on crafting unique and memorable experiences that resonate with each guest’s individuality.