Business or Pleasure? Designing the Future of Travel

June 02, 2023 | More from

Hotel design is no different from other kinds of design and will often depend on trends that stem from the attitudes and preferences of consumers. Trends of recent years have focused on localized design, lifestyle-centric hotels, and lively public areas. However, a major question that industry leaders have is whether hotel design is likely to continue in this way or will new trends forge a path into the future. What will the travel and hospitality industry look like 20 years from now? 

In this blog, we take a look at some of the trends that will guide hotel design as the future of travel and hospitality evolve to meet the needs of travelers.

Travel Trends that Will Impact Design

The hotel industry is one that constantly yearns for innovation, given its global and competitive nature. All hotel brands want to differentiate themselves, however, innovation and experimentation need to be balanced with economic responsibility if hospitality is to be successful instead of a gimmick. 

For many hotels, this means taking stock of trends as they emerge and determining which would be best suited to incorporate into future designs, this could mean how technology is upgraded, how they update space to accommodate travelers, and more. Here are some of the top travel trends and what they mean for the future of design:

  1. Human Connection
    Technology will never replace human connection. On the contrary, it will create a stronger need for people to connect in the real world. Hotels will need to strike a balance between modernizing travel with technology while not losing sight of the ability to have human-centric experiences. The exact balance is a formula unique to a hotel, however, there are several ways guests can still connect with others or even with the surrounding area for a more immersive travel experience.
  2. Intangible Experiences
    It has become increasingly clear that luxury is not the only driving force of travel. Memorable experiences hold great weight for travelers. According to a study by GetYourGuide, 90% of travelers say experiencing a destination as if they were locals is a high priority. This has prompted hotel brands to shift away from strict homogenization and uniformity across their brand. Travel is becoming more and more about immersion in the destination and the things that are unique to the destination, including food and design. The best hotels are designed to be unique and authentic.
  3. Emphasis on Sustainable Design
    A major trend in hotel design has been a return to more natural, ecological solutions. By 2030, hotels will need to reduce their carbon footprint by 66% to comply with the Paris Climate Agreement. Eco-friendly hotels are driven not only by new sustainable policies but also by consumers, as 69% of travelers actively seek sustainable travel options. More travelers, regardless of why they’re traveling, are looking for ways to lower their carbon footprint and make more environmentally friendly choices. Travelers are often in tune with whether a hotel has any positive impacts on the local environment and cultural heritage or any benefit to local economies.
  4. Digital Innovation
    Hotels have come quite far when it comes to adopting digital innovation and one major shift that continues is automation. Digital tools and design are needed to help create more fun and collaborative experiences for guests. This could look like more interactive walls and features in lobbies and overall more digital experiences including contactless mobile check-in, keyless room entry, or on-demand virtual assistants. This now means designing your hotel with smart technology in mind to enhance guest experiences and satisfaction. As technology continues to evolve, so will the travel and hospitality industry. 
  5. Adapting to “Bleisure” Travelers
    The lines between business and leisure travel have become blurred, especially after the new reality of hybrid and remote work. The blend of the two, dubbed bleisure travel by some, is gaining momentum. Travelers have the desire to work from home, without necessarily working from home. With the flexibility of being able to work anywhere, hotels have begun reframing design to accommodate the needs of travelers who are doing both. This may mean adjusting guest rooms so they incorporate more work-friendly accommodations, providing free high-speed wifi, practical workspaces in public areas, and investing in upgraded business centers and comfortable, yet functional meeting rooms.
  6. Functional Design
    Functionality is becoming a more central theme in hospitality and hotel furniture design. In terms of architecture, there is a big trend toward adaptive reuse, which is the process of renovating old buildings and hotels rather than creating new ones. As the trend gains more ground, it’s becoming clear that travelers want to stay in buildings with history, stories, and unique character — building on the desire to make more sustainable travel choices. Moving to an interior view, functional design in hotels requires flexibility and adaptability. Hotels are evolving into hybrid spaces that must accommodate hybrid travelers. This includes user-centric spaces, quiet spaces with a community feel, as well as intentional visual and space zoning to guide guests through spaces and help decode how to use them.

How will hotel design continue to evolve?

The fate of hotel design falls in the hands of travelers and their unique needs, attitudes, and preferences. And design will continue to shift as trends in travel change. Hotel design will constantly evolve because why people travel continues to evolve. It be could for business, leisure, or both. We might see more hotels integrate technology to accommodate bleisure travelers. Some hotels will put more emphasis on sustainability and eco-friendly design to align with travelers looking to lower their carbon footprint, while other hotels incorporate local culture for more immersive experiences. 

Regardless of what is to come in the future, there are several important questions that hotels will want to ask themselves: Can the hotel be for the whole community, as well as its guests? What can the hotel do to be unique while supporting a brand image? Will there be a good balance between technology and the personal touch of traditional hospitality service? It can be difficult trying to predict the future of travel and how it will impact the hotel and hospitality industry, but change is one constant that can be counted on. Hotels will need to be prepared for shifts in design trends as trends in travel continue to change.