Hospitality Trend: WanderMUST

October 13, 2022

As we near the end of 2022, people and brands are facing financial pressures stemming from inflation, depleted savings, and a worsening economy. But despite this, the intersection of unique experience and self-care may be a critical selling point, now and well into the future. In May, 87% of US adults told us that living well is more about having the means to DO amazing things than OWN amazing things.* With self-care a growing priority (an increase of 15% YOY*), the quest for unique, “all-out” experiences is in high demand. Outlined in our 2022 Hospitality Trends Report, we call this trend WanderMUST, and travel brands are already looking for ways to innovate and captivate experience-hungry travelers.

In our April Inflation Nation report, we found that 2 in 3 adults were concerned about inflation’s effect on their personal finances. Moving from COVID lockdown to a “wallet lockdown,” people are 2-5X more likely to cut costs on life’s simple pleasures like dining out and entertainment vs. necessities like groceries and medical needs.** Yet the majority (68%) of adults deem self-care a necessity, not a want. People are unwilling to make sacrifices on goods and services they buy to better their well-being.*** With self-care seen as a critical investment, travel and hospitality brands can position themselves as not only a one-of-a-kind experience but a necessary dose of revitalizing “me time.”

Unique Amenities and Nature-scapes Compel Travelers

Unique travel-stay experiences offer much-needed self-care and relaxation. According to Airbnb’s top 2022 trends (Globetrender), searches for unique stays rose exponentially from 2019 to the first quarter of 2022. “Tiny houses” were searched nearly 2X (+179%) more frequently in Q1 2022 vs 2019. Hotel brands are doubling down on their unique amenities and one-of-a-kind accommodations. The Reykjavik Edition, the Iceland city’s first and only luxury hotel which opened in November 2021, offers travelers a luxurious beer bath spa experience. Yes – this is a hot tub of beer. In Saudi Arabia, the Desert Rock Resort set to open this year is built into a rocky mountain cliffside, promising a one-of-a-kind desert nature escape.

Don’t Sleep on the Lure of “Rest” in Class

Hotels can double down on offerings that improve restorative sleep to encourage WanderMUST. Alluring self-care hotel experiences don’t just mean expensive spa amenities or a fancy Gym studio on-site – stand-out offerings that ensure restful sleep can be impactful. The Equinox Hotel in New York City’s Hudson Yards focuses on “regeneration” as a draw and compelling communications tactic. Black-out curtains and soundproofing encourage deep, restful sleep for guests from all over the world. In London, The Cadogan Hotel boasts an entire ‘Sleep Concierge’ offering. Guests can receive a hypnotherapist-created sleep meditation and audio recordings, a weighted blanket option, as well as a pillow menu for personalized comfort.

What it Means for Brands

To reclaim a critical sense of wellbeing after nearly three years of distress, people are not only more willing to openly discuss the critical need for self-care, they’re also more willing to open their wallets for new experiences that inspire awe and wellbeing.

As people wrestle with inflation and depleted COVID-19 savings, travel for travel’s sake may be met with tension. To increase allure and justify expenditures, highlight where your hotel sets itself apart in terms of self-care.

  • Unique Retreats: Emphasize the unusual features your hotel offers in your communications to set yourself apart from other contemporary hotel destinations. You don’t need an underwater lobby or cliffside rockscape to attract newcomers, but you’ll need to highlight what is uniquely yours. With smaller budgets, hotels can amend their current spaces with interesting perks like in-room hammocks, plant-stacked “oxygen” bars that bring the outside in, or treehouse-style loft spaces.
  • Sleep Sells: Up your sleep menu to encourage epic rest. For example, start small by investing in cooling, sweat-resistant fabrics, soundproofing the walls and windows facing the street, adding light-sensitive wake-up alarms, and stand-out pillow menus that allow for sleep customization. A long-term goal could be partnering with a world-class sleep expert and brand to identify the optimal sleep amenities – backed by data. Imagine being able to be the first hotel brand to claim the “world’s best sleep,” or “scientifically proven to significantly reduce effects of jet lag.”

Sources: *Horizon Media, Finger on the Pulse. Survey fielded 5/31/22-6/9/22, n=986; **Horizon Media, Finger on the Pulse. Survey fielded April 2022, n=930; *** Source: Horizon Media Finger on the Pulse Survey. Fielded 6/23/22-6/27/22; n=1033

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