Experts Predict a New Roaring 20s for Hospitality Industry

There’s no shortage of headlines about Covid-19 negatively affecting the hospitality industry, but something surprising has emerged in 2021: HOPE! A modern version of the Roaring 20s may be headed our way, and experts have all kinds of positive predictions for the near future.

In the interim, the challenges of Covid-19 continue, and much still depends on the widespread availability of vaccines. Once we’ve reached a medically approved level of herd immunity, it is highly likely that the pent up energies and desperate need to spread our wings after months of confinement and restrictions will enthusiastically drive people back to their favorite spots as well as new destinations.

Read on for quotes and details about why restaurants, hotels, casinos, theme parks, and cruise lines are expected to thrive in the new 20s.

RH Edina Restaurant at Night

Roaring ’20s

The early 1900s had many parallels to today, including war and a deadly pandemic. These led to the infamous Roaring 20s, when consumer spending and confidence soared. Many are expecting the 2020s to have their own Roaring 20s style economic boom.

The 1918 pandemic was followed by the Roaring ’20s, a period of unprecedented economic activity for the nation. So, I’m getting ready for the next Roaring ’20s 2.0.

-Peter Romeo, How Quickly Will Customers Come Back to Restaurants?

“I think in late 2021 we will see a wave of people traveling as it becomes safer to do so and restrictions are removed. So here’s to the real roaring ’20s – a reimagined landscape with tremendous potential for the future of the hotel industry and revenue management.”

-Klaus Kohlmayr, Why it’s Still the Roaring ‘20s for Hotel Revenue Management

“The 1918 pandemic (coupled with the end of the First World War) ushered in the Roaring ’20s when pent-up demand and a sense of possibility pushed the global economy to new heights.”

If the adage ‘history repeats itself’ holds, then we’ll see a similar spike in global activity after a year of quarantine, isolation and social distancing.

-Michael Bennett – Cendyn, Three Big Ideas That Will Change Hospitality in 2021

Pent Up Demand

After months of quarantining at home, people are ready to socialize and enjoy everyday life again. Simple pleasures like movie dates, brunches with friends, and family vacations are luxuries that will be easily enjoyed – and much appreciated.

There is also significant pent-up demand from American consumers for dining in restaurants. From the research we have seen, eating out is one of the activities that consumers miss the most.

-Pietro Satriano, Trends Experts Predict Modest 2021 Rebound for US Foodservice

“The fundamentals of the industry are still solid – the middle class is still expected to expand and rise, meaning more people will have more money to spend on travel. This pandemic has generated a backlog of pent-up demand which will be unleashed as soon as it is safe to travel.”

-Klaus Kohlmayr, Why it’s Still the Roaring ‘20s for Hotel Revenue Management

Summer 2020

Consumer response to re-openings and relaxed restrictions last summer was very optimistic, and it gave the industry a glimpse at the possible future of the 2020s.

Certainly, the surge in travel over the summer as restrictions eased demonstrated some pent-up demand for travel, and consumer research seems to indicate that there’s more where that came from.

-Kelly McGuire, Three Hospitality Industry Realities for 2021

“If consumers weren’t already in a sprinter’s crouch, ready to charge back to a favorite restaurant, we wouldn’t have so many jurisdictions reclosing dining rooms.  People were already swarming places, even while the risk of infection was high.

Take away that yellow light and we’re going to see a surge of a far different sort—restaurant customers fighting for a table. There’s just too much pent-up demand —not necessarily for the food, since you can get that through delivery and takeout, but for the luxury of having someone else serve it while you focus on the company you’re with.”

When dining rooms were re-opened in early summer, operators reported that customers would wait eons for one of the few seats that were available. Takeout was available, but they wanted experience.

-Peter Romeo, How Quickly Will Customers Come Back to Restaurants?

“Casinos across the country were open for most of the year and despite some restrictions, gamblers were more than willing to place bets. In 2021, I would expect a continued recovery in these markets and potentially a windfall if vaccines are rolled out quickly and it’s safe to hold large gatherings once again.”

I think 2021 will be defined by the return of the casino, not only in the U.S. but around the world.

-Travis Hoium, Why Your 2021 Resolution Should Be to Buy More Gambling Stocks

New Opportunities

Patrons are ready and willing to spend their money at places that prioritize safety, fair treatment, wellness, hygiene, and sustainability. With less competition overall and time to implement new policies, many hospitality industry players are well-poised for a resurgence of guests. Some of the most important factors include:

Safety & Hygiene

A renewed focus on safety and sanitation is paramount for any business that wishes to succeed in the 2020s.

“With 40% of tourists saying they would favor airlines, airports and hotels with higher health and safety standards, travel providers must now demonstrate their loyalty to travelers by demonstrating their commitments.”

Commitments to health, hygiene and safety – the new currency for earning customer trust.

-Amadeus, Travel Trends in 2021 – Prepare for a Year of New Opportunities

Social Responsibility

Consumers today want companies to demonstrate their commitment to the community and environment.

There is high and increasing consumer demand for social and environmental responsibility.

“57% of adults want businesses to focus more on sustainable practice in 2021 (Sourcing Journal) and 60% of respondents under 30 want the focus of COVID-19 reopening strategies to prioritize addressing inequality and climate change (GlobeScan).”

– Cassia Patel, Driving Resiliency and Sustainability in Hospitality: Five Priorities for 2021

Diversity

Restaurants, hotels, and the like can count on patrons noticing diversity – or a lack thereof. They are now more likely to reward diverse companies with their continued business, and avoid the establishments that aren’t making an effort.

I see hopeful changes already, not just in the restaurant world, where immigrant and BIPOC chefs and others are getting well-deserved attention, but in the food media, which is adding important new voices and different perspectives to the conversation.

-Tom Sietsema, How the Restaurant Industry Should Rebuild After 2020, According to D.C. Experts

Sustainability

“Going green” has been a priority for decades now, but modern travelers value sustainable, eco-friendly brands more than ever.

70% of global travelers say they would be more likely to book eco-friendly accommodation (Booking.com) and would be willing to pay more to ensure minimized environmental impact (TUI Group).

“This is an issue that’s been heightened by the pandemic rather than eclipsed. 58% of consumers say they are thinking more about the environment since the pandemic (Publicis Sapient).”

-Madhu Rajesh, Driving Resiliency and Sustainability in Hospitality: Five Priorities for 2021

New Offerings

After a year of adjusting and providing takeout/at-home services, companies now need to pivot to offering immersive experiences.

“Look for a major rebound from ‘eatertainment’ concepts and other places promising a rich experience. After lifting meal after meal out of a takeout or delivery box, consumers are going to want forms of entertainment and a sense of submersion when they dine outside the home in safer times.”

-Peter Romeo, How Quickly Will Customers Come Back to Restaurants?

Less Competition

2020 was devastating to many businesses. It offers unique opportunities, however, to those that survived.

Of course, there will be fewer restaurants, unfortunately. Those that survive will get the benefit of all this pent-up demand. At the same time, the industry will be forever changed because of the pandemic.

-Peter Romeo, How Quickly Will Customers Come Back to Restaurants?

Increased Need

There’s a lot of talk about pent-up demand and desire, but many consider hospitality services to be a real need in 2021. After a stressful year like no other, people are turning to physical and emotional comforts that they’ve been deprived of.

“For the hospitality industry, there’s no getting away from the fact that people are at its heart, and inevitably it’s people who have been hugely affected this year, whether through illness, increased uncertainty and stress, or adjustment in their work and personal lives.”

One positive outcome from Covid-19 is that it has helped put the conversation around personal and mental health firmly in the mainstream spotlight.

-Catherine Dolton, Driving Resiliency and Sustainability in Hospitality: Five Priorities for 2021

Community Engagement

2020 offered businesses a unique opportunity: the chance to demonstrate that they are integral parts of the community. The hospitality industry was particularly successful in this regard!

Patrons recognize this commitment, particularly from front line service workers, and are eager to connect with the businesses that went above and beyond.

The pandemic has highlighted the role that hotels play within their local communities.

“Hotel support around the world ranged from offering their properties as health care and quarantine facilities, homeless shelters, donating meals to frontline personnel or migrant workers and supporting food banks, to turning bed linens into facemasks and, in a global symbol of solidarity, lighting their windows in the shape of hearts and other messages of hope.

By continuing this local and charity engagement, hotels will continue to demonstrate their crucial role in society and their relevance within each community.”

73% of consumers are taking note of brands that are making a difference during Covid-19.

-Madhu Rajesh, Driving Resiliency and Sustainability in Hospitality: Five Priorities for 2021

“Hotels can be perceived as ‘separate’ from the local community. As consumers demand more authenticity, purpose, and positive local impact, hotels will need to up their game in how they measure and communicate it.”

-Eric Ricaurte, Driving Resiliency and Sustainability in Hospitality: Five Priorities for 2021

Bucket Lists

What’s on your bucket list? If you’re like most people, there are vacation destinations and exciting experiences that have been put on hold recently. Expect to see renewed interest in checking items off of bucket lists as we move past the pandemic.

“Tourism is not only a source of inspiration; it’s a human right. We need to travel, to move, to experience the diversity of culture and nature abroad. Travel makes us wiser, and more sensitive. It allows us to feel free. And after months of lockdown due to COVID-19, everyone is anxious to set sail again.”

Bucket lists will survive the pandemic.

-José Koechlin von Stein, Driving Resiliency and Sustainability in Hospitality: Five Priorities for 2021

“Disney, like others, is looking ahead to better times. The pandemic may have permanently altered some aspects of the economy. Still, experts expect a Roaring ’20s on the other side, filled with consumers looking to check off bucket list vacation plans.”

-Ken Storey, With COVID’s End in Sight, Details Regarding Disney’s Huge 100th Anniversary Celebration Begin to Emerge

In 2020, we’ve all become a bit restless at home with time to fantasize about our next adventure. 2021 is the year to bring it to life.

“To make up for lost time, people are likely to gravitate to “big idea” or “bucket list” trips and looking to tick off those once-in-a-lifetime adventures in the spirit of “life is short and the world is wide.”

-Amadeus, Travel Trends in 2021 – Prepare for a Year of New Opportunities

Vaccines

Vaccinations are in progress across the globe, and they’re a crucial step towards industry recovery. There is optimism across the board that these vaccines are the final hurdle required to overcome the downturn.

“I believe 2021 will bring more stability and security, both emotionally and financially, for people to be able to venture out and experience all that they have missed last year.

With the vaccine coming in, many are aching to travel as things start to look up.

-Kapil Chopra, Why 2021 Could be the Hospitality Industry’s Wonder Year

“I think restaurants are going to have a huge recovery. I believe that, once more people are vaccinated, there is going to be more of a push to support your local restaurant – independently-owned restaurants especially. We are going to see a major boom.”

Jon Pearlman, Trends Experts Predict Modest 2021 Rebound for US Foodservice

Innovation

The past year required a focus on at-home offerings, delivery, and sanitation. Other priorities, like new menu items, attractions, and décor, were all put on hold. This gave many in the industry time to think and experiment, which has led to exciting innovations!

“Menu innovation will ramp up. Many restaurants had to put R&D on hold as they streamlined menus and focused on takeout and delivery in 2020.”

Chefs and menu developers are eager to get back in the kitchen and try out some of the new flavors, ingredients and cuisines they’ve had to put on the back burner.

-Patricia Cobe, Predictions for 2021: Will Things Be Better or Worse?

“2020 was a tough year across the board for the travel industry, and widespread shutdowns and travel restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic led to indefinite closures of the world’s most-visited theme parks.”

Some of their most exciting and innovative projects were put on hold. That means there’s a lot to look forward to in 2021.

-Elizabeth Rhodes, 9 New Theme Parks, Rides, and Experiences to Get Excited for in 2021

Positive Economy

The future of this industry, and others, depends on the economy overall. Luckily, many economists are expecting to see a positive surge as we all react to the new normal of life after Covid.

“With a vaccine and the release of pent-up demand, the next few years will be roaring as the economy accelerates and returns to previous growth trends,” wrote Leo Feler, a senior economist with the forecast. “We expect a surge in services consumption and continued strength in housing markets to propel the economy forward.”

-Margot Roosevelt, Get Ready for Another Roaring ’20s, UCLA Economic Forecast Predicts

Forecasts look strong: UCLA predicts a 6% jump in the U.S. economy in the latter half of 2021, with 3% quarterly growth until 2023.

-Michael Bennett – Cendyn, Three Big Ideas That Will Change Hospitality in 2021

“You’ve got big spending potential among the higher income sets, and they have been less impacted. That suggests we’ll get that consumption boom once we’re able to come out of the bunker,” Ryan Ratcliff, Ph.D.,  Associate Professor of Economics at USD said.

-Ramon Galindo, USD Economist Forecasts Post-Pandemic Boom in 2022

Renaissance

Each day is still going to bring us new Covid-19 related challenges and opportunities. Some suggest we look at this as Renaissance era, or a new Golden Age for the hospitality industry. This doesn’t minimize the pain and misfortune the pandemic has caused, but it does offer motivation and optimism during these difficult times.

“I view this time as an opportunity to innovate and improve hospitality, so it is more profitable, reduces more emissions, and becomes a more memorable experience for our guests. Rather than recovery, view this opportunity as a renaissance.”

Renaissance because we can go back to what is at the heart of hospitality and focus our attention on quality, not quantity.

-José Koechlin von Stein, Driving Resiliency and Sustainability in Hospitality: Five Priorities for 2021

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