Walpole Insight | The Art of British Luxury Hospitality: Reflections in light of COVID-19
By Laura Tan, Partner at Notable.
When we began the research for this paper late last year – looking at the trends affecting luxury British hospitality, and launched at the Walpole US Trade Delegation to New York – we could never have imagined how quickly the world would change. Nor could we have anticipated the degree to which this particular crisis would hit the hospitality industry.
On re-examining the paper, many of the trends predicted have moved from topics to plan for, to matters of urgency. All three of the core trends outlined in the report: ‘Somewhere, not Anywhere’, ‘Next Level Home from Home’, and ‘Stories Over Services’ remain relevant. However, it is some of the sub-trends within these core themes that are the most pointed.
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One example is the ‘Less Spa, more Nature’ trend. The belief that reconnecting with nature can be more beneficial to our wellbeing than conventional spa treatments was already growing pre-COVID. Now, given the challenges a traditional spa environment places for social distancing, the idea of finding solace in open spaces and nature, is even more appealing.
Another sub-trend, ‘Feel Good Sustainability’, will also be moved up the agenda. With clearer skies and a reduction in air pollution being one upside of the crisis, people are reflecting on how we can maintain a healthier planet long-term. Sustainability will move from a ‘behind-the-scenes’ issue to a ‘front-of-house’ selling point.
The ‘Next Level Home from Home’ trend is another one to highlight. People’s desire to stay within their own ‘bubble’ whilst travelling has taken on a new meaning. Wealthy families will want their self-contained bubble to be more comfortable and more spotless than ever. They will still expect high levels of service but delivered in an even more discrete, more distant manner.
Lastly, the sub-trend we identified as ‘Elevated Adventure’ is also likely to be grow in significance. We predict people will still be travelling less overall which means when they do, they want to make it count. Brands that know how to create ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ type experiences in small groups and in environments that allow for plenty of natural distancing, will have the upper hand here.