Hospitality : Surviving to Thriving

Mike Tristram shares his thoughts on how hospitality brands can thrive in the new normal.

Words by: Mike Tristram

Senior Strategist


Hospitality and retail are getting back to business – and we for one have missed meals out and mooching in-store. After a year of having to pivot to home-based, digital strategies there’s comfort in returning to some type of normality. But how can businesses keep momentum and continue to innovate in what is undoubtedly a very different landscape?

To respond to similar challenges, we have seen and worked with retail brands investing billions in digital infrastructure, new formats and imaginative strategies. So what can hospitality learn from retail’s rapid acceleration? Below we look beyond the immediate opportunities in staycations and alfresco dining. Highlighting future possibilities which can take hospitality brands from surviving to thriving in the new normal.

Diversifying Revenue Streams

The rise in conscious consumerism has led retailers to create new revenue streams in recent years. New service models like rentals and repairs are being launched almost every week, whilst others have expanded into completely new categories. With brands like MUJI and Equinox opening hotels, maybe it’s time for more hospitality brands to venture into retail.

Possibility #1 – Homeware to Hotelware

PWC states that ‘hotel occupancy rates in the UK could take four years to return to pre COVID-19 levels’. Brands can use this time to tap into increased consumer spending in their homes. Take inspiration from Soho House who launched their home furniture brand Soho Home or Gordon Ramsay’s restaurant inspired tableware collection by Royal Doulton.

Possibility #2 – Resort Wear

Fashion brands are renowned for not staying in their lane. Branching out into anything from beauty to alcohol. Hospitality brands can leverage this mindset. Launching their own fashion collections or collaborations to become ingrained in popular culture. Budweiser Streetwear Co is a great example of this. Beyond this, what if all-inclusive holidays provided travellers with a holiday wardrobe? (An approach already explored by Rent the Runway and W Hotels).

Possibility #3 – Mixed Usage

Retail is no longer about sales per sqft. It’s all about experiences and competing for consumer’s leisure time. The same is true for hotels and restaurants. With 71% of UK businesses adopting more flexible working, now is the time to diversify your floor space. Take Ducie Street Warehouse in Manchester. A new mixed-use development compromising of a bar, restaurant, cinema, co-working hub, event space, hotel and permanent apartments. While Pharrell’s new The Goodtime Hotel in Miami is designed for locals as well as travellers with a recording studio, gym and 45,000 sq.ft of retail space.

Push The Boundaries

Keeping up with consumer expectations in retail is key. Responding at pace to cultural trends such as plastic backlash. But also the ability to continuously create demand, whether through drop models or unexpected experiences. As retail brands heighten expectations for surprise and sustainability, hospitality brands too can push the envelope even further.

Possibility #4 – Trend-Jacking

IFT states that 80% of global consumers want to try new flavours. This has only accelerated by consumers increased desire for escapism. As such Rum is now expected to overtake Gin in 2021. Bruno Mars’ tropical luxury SelvaRey rum taps into this perfectly. An unusual Chocolate flavoured rum and a Reserve rum which tastes of pipe tobacco and baked apple crumble. With sustainability at the top of everyone’s radar, the world’s first zero waste restaurant Silo London is demonstrating how primitive diets can provide high-end flavours.

Possibility #5 – Go Remote

With consumers shopping more locally or by appointment only, retailers are transforming their format strategies. In hospitality, we can expect to see the same. Luxury travellers especially are rejecting over-populated tourist hotspots in favour of remote sanctuaries. Lonely Planet states that 95% of people now cite travel as an opportunity for personal transformation. In response, AMAN will soon open Amanvari, Mexico a private oasis in the remote Baja peninsula. While Meridian Adventure Sail offers a great alternative to cruises, with journeys to off-grid destinations in your own private catamaran.

Possibility #6 – Planet Positive

Consumers now have a strong distaste for brands that just chase profits. They want to see that businesses area acting responsibly and with the planet in mind. As retailers step up to the plate, consumers will expect the same from hospitality brands. Hilton has capitalised on this by creating the world’s first fully Vegan hotel room. But Brewdog is leading the charge. The first carbon-negative beer business, a progressive Tomorrow initiative and opening Las Vegas’ first carbon negative bar later this year.


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