6 Trends Driving Innovation In The Hotel Industry - WhatAVenture

In this trend report, we share major trends we identified shaping the hotel and gastro industry in 2019.

6 Trends Driving Innovation In The Hotel Industry

From robotics to retailing to experience economy – these are all trends that are shaping the hotel and gastro industry in 2019. Keeping up with the latest trends is essential for those operating in the hospitality sector, as the industry itself is extremely competitive and always on the rush to serve the guest in the best way.

In this trend report, we share our view on the latest trends and selected startups driving these trends. The 6 major trends we identified in 2019 are either driven by consumer demand or by technology or both:

  • Guest engagement
  • Sustainability
  • Experience economy
  • Retailing
  • Big data
  • Robotics

1. Guest engagement

Digital guest interaction and a tech-friendly atmosphere are becoming increasingly important. Today’s guests demand instant answers, 24/7 service staff and easy-to-get information on a variety of digital channels. Responding rapidly on all these inquiries can be challenging and costly for hotel providers. Thus, it is not surprising that startups are popping up like mushrooms providing artificial intelligence solutions and chatbots for the hospitality realm. Artificial intelligence enabled communication and chatbots can provide quick service and by that elevate customer service and the overall guest experience. Next to instant answers and AI enabled individualized service offerings, guests will also be able to enjoy a higher level of technology-basedservices by utilizing smart devices to control their room surroundings such as lighting or room temperature.

We’ve got some examples for you:


How would it be to enter your hotel room and being welcomed by a concierge avatar in your mirror? That´s no science fiction: Wikifriend, a Berlin Startup, creates conversational solutions for smart devices like smart mirrors or voice assistants which you can interact with by voice or touchscreen.



The Chinese startup Sabahospitality provides the hospitality industry with bespoke and innovative solutions with artificial intelligence and scalable chatbot technology. Their product SABAGuest is a 360-degree virtual assistant for hotels and restaurants to automatically answer guest questions and requests as well as F&B orders in multiple languages.



Limendo Menu is the new and innovative way to quickly and easily find out about offered foods and drinks, order and pay for them. It can be fully integrated into current systems, allowing easier ordering for customers. Limendo empowers customer intelligence and higher turnover for food outlets.


2. Sustainability

With the climate change being nowadays in everyday media, sustainability is a strong trend in all industries– with no difference to hospitality. Sustainable travel experiences with low impact on the environment will become more and more popular. There is a strong rise in travelers aiming to reduce their carbon footprint and searching for sustainable hospitality solutions. Hotels and restaurants should therefore think of ways how to be as carbon neutral as possible. These can include various initiatives like using renewable energy, offering e-mobility solutions, reducing water consumption or offering more vegetarian and vegan options in restaurants. Especially in the organic and sustainable food segment, many startups are enriching the food and beverage industry with new delicious creations.

We’ve got some examples for you:


Lahhentagge is a small drinks manufacturer from a Nordic island of Saaremaa which focuses increasingly on recycled sourcing. Lahhentagge’s Spruce tonic for example is produced from old Christmas trees.


Rebel MEAT

Rebel MEAT makes our food system more sustainable by reducing meat consumption with their delicious products. Their burger patty consists of only 50% organic beef mixed with mushrooms, millet and spices. Thereby offering a solution for ‘flexitarians’ to eat less meat without compromising on taste. Rebel MEAT is currently available in selected restaurants in Vienna and aims expand fast to new markets and segments.



FEDDZ is an electric moped. The bike design with only 47kg aims at pure riding pleasure and promises to bring a smile in the faces of new riders, without exhaust gases! The cargo bag offers space for day pack, sports things, office stuff…

For hotel guests, FEDDZ offers a welcome opportunity for a stress-free excursion into nature and/or the next city – without any worries about parking spaces and emissions!


3. Experience Economy

Curating experiences has become crucial to compete in the hospitality industry as increasingly request extreme personalization and unique experiences. Businesses in the hospitality industry are responding to this trend by selling extraordinary activities, ranging from special dining experiences to guided hike tours for unforgettable mountain experiences and an extraordinary service quality. There is also a growing demand for tours by locals as well as for indigenous produce as guests intend to explore the authentic local diversity of the holiday destination.
But in order to attract travelers who expect more from their hotel than just a place to sleep, hotels must go a step further in the future. Some hotels are already trying out new concepts such as short-term rentals of luxurious homes or offering cabins in the nature to escape from the hectic and daily-life jungle.

We’ve got some examples for you:


Log houses rightly have a long tradition. Thanks to the unique properties of wood, they offer an ideal indoor climate paired with sustainability.

The innovative, sustainable and modular WOOD_SPACE is what you make of it. Whether it’s a holiday chalet, guest house, second home, office unit, pop-up shop or creative room – the modular block construction allows full flexibility and arrives turnkey ready.



Frittenlove is shaking up the world of fries. The Fries are not cut from potatoes like conventional fries, but instead made from specially produced purées and refined with various ingredients. Sascha Wolter has more than 23 years of professional experience, including five years of running his own Michelin-starred restaurant. He is now fully focused on creating extraordinary Fritten products, which set the pulses of all food lovers racing and give heroes of the kitchen completely new options.


4. Retailing

Savvy retailers understand that the customer journey does not stop after a shop’s visit but goes far beyond the physical store. Currently, we see an adoption of retail formulas and practices in the hotel sector. Basically, retailing for hotels is about realizing new revenue opportunities for hoteliers by providing ancillary services beyond lodging and food that can optimize the guest experience, like ticketing, laundry, rental or other services. But you also see it in product branding everywhere you look, from chocolates to wine which may be even sold in in-house hotel stores.  Anotheropportunity is to unbundle room attributes, such as floor level, balcony, frequency of housekeeping services, etc. and sell them on an add-on basis as to give the customer the freedom to personalize their experience as to what matters most to them. Some hotels are even offering their rooms on an hourly rate as to use their assets most efficiently.
But this trend even goes beyond the sleep room and the traditional customer. Why not even offering underutilized spaces ranging from meeting and conference rooms up until the hotel parking lot to non-staying guests in innovative ways?

We’ve got some examples for you:


One way is to offer spaces in one’s property for meeting and conference rooms or as co-working space. The Finnish startup MeetingPackage has recognized the potential of this market and provides a venue management software-as-a-service that enables hotels and other venues to sell meeting and event spaces with online availability and dynamic pricing both from their own websites and across thousands of other channels globally.



WeDesky is a platform that allows hotels and hostels to share their free spaces, such as the breakfast rooms, using them into coworking spaces for freelancers and smart workers. Currently the demand is much higher than the offer, consequently workers often cannot find a free location or one that completely meets their needs: low flexibility, suitable workplace and often excessive price (a desk in Milan can cost up to 800 euros per month).


5. Big Data

Big data has already been a big buzzword for some time, but it still compromises one of the key hospitality trends in 2019. Within the hotel industry, big data is still not used on a large scale but has grown rapidly throughout the last years, assisting hotel owners to more accurately anticipate levels of demand for hotel rooms, improving guest experiences, and helping those in the hotel industry to more effectively target their marketing content.

Lately, hotels are also using big data more and more to find out what the trends are for their specific property or city. This allows for more data-driven approaches to pricing strategies and enables hoteliers to gain a better understanding of current business performance and the outside influences that impact upon it.

We’ve got some examples for you:


Iqrate provides a dashboard enabling hotel owners and their consultants to compare their daily pricing with their competitors. Alongside with a dashboard, Iqrate creates various custom reports for its clients to help them price better and optimize their strategy.



Ciaomanager is a start-up focused on smart Hospitality. They develop products based on artificial intelligence in order to manage accommodations without stress. With Ciaomanager, you can manager your hotel from any device and wherever you are, get reservations from your website and understand how to sell at the right price at the right time to the right customer.


6. Robotics

The emergence of robots is an exciting trend in the hospitality industry. If you think that this trend is still far in the future, you may convince yourself of the opposite and travel to Japan, where the Henn-na Hotel became the first hotel in the world to be entirely staffed by robots. Robots may take over front-desk activities, delivery services, or serve as a concierge, using speech recognition and AI to respond to queries from customers. There are many more use cases for robots in the hotel and also travel industry: robot luggage porters, security robots for airports, robot assistants for travel agencies, etc.
Robots can be equipped with AI and chat functionalities, collision detections systems, and make use of  big data – basically combining every hospitality tech trend around – thus, not a trend to underestimate!

We’ve got some examples for you:

Tactile Robots

Tactile Robots innovates hospitality by introducing autonomous mobile robots. TR1 delivers the room service to the rooms of the clients. Thanks to TR1, hotels can significantly reduce their costs. Their clients enjoy an improved privacy and an amazing experience. TR1 has a sizeable internal volume, it is compact, and has a high level of safety. In fact, it is the first mobile robot to be soft and to have the sense of touch.


Makr Shakr

Makr Shakr’s robotic bartender, Toni, can precisely prepare and serve any drink in seconds – shaking, stirring and muddling. Toni combines the Italian craftsmanship with high-end technology and elegant finishing. The robotic bartender features a sleek Corian counter and tailor-made Corian sinks as well as an illuminated wall that displays data about current orders, queue time and usage statistics. The elegantly C-shaped robotic bartender, whose borders can light up in different ways, can skilfully manage 158 bottles hanging from the ceiling of the bar structure, concocting an infinite number of drink combinations. Toni can make any drink in seconds, from cocktails to mocktails, and serve wine, beer or juice. The app-controlled machine features all the standard technical capabilities, including an ice machine, a lemon cutter, mint and a sugar dispenser.


Established players have to manage these trends carefully. The hospitality industry is highly competitive, and it is important for those in the industry to keep up with the latest innovations, with the risk of being disrupted otherwise. It is important to regularly monitor and communicate these trends within one’s organization, screen the market for new innovations and popping-up startups and invest in new trends and technologies. Whether robotics, big data or experience economy – these an overview of the most important trends in the hotel industry of 2019.There is more to come and more to watch out for in the upcoming years.

About WhatAVenture

We are a team of innovation experts and hands-on entrepreneurs and stand for sustainable success with innovation. We achieve this by empowering leading companies and public institutions on all aspects of innovation, by executing innovation projects in a success-oriented manner and by building exciting new companies.

Together with Fiera Bolzano we organize the yearly Startup Village at Hotel 2019 – a specialized trade show for the hotel and gastro industry. During the scouting process for the startup selection, we have immersed ourselves deeply into the startup world and innovations of the hotel industry – an experience we want to share.


Johanna Zauner, Innovation Manager

Stefan Peintner, Partner


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