• Leading integrated design firm predicts 2019 design trends

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    WATG’s Muriel Muirden, Executive Vice President and Global Director of Strategy, forecasts the top hospitality and design trends to look out for in 2019…

    WATG, which has been breaking ground on the hotel design scene for more than 73 years, has revealed its forecast of the hospitality and design trends for 2019. As another year ends, and 2019 beckons, Muriel Muirden, Executive Vice President and Global Director of Strategy, shares the top trends in the hospitality and travel sectors, that will be shaping the year ahead, including women-only journeys, ‘Voluntourism’, the return of ‘Slow Travel’ and hyper-personalisation.

    Girl power

    Women are heading out of their comfort zone and seeking new high-octane adventures, including women-only journeys that empower and provide an opportunity to develop new skills and passions. This includes a growing interest in women-only ‘voluntourism’, that support local women in remote and undeveloped communities around the world. A 2018 survey of US women identified that 73 per cent of women felt that travel makes them stronger. Now, 75 per cent of cultural, adventure and nature travellers are female.

    The road more travelled

    By 2030 a mind-boggling 1.8 billion tourists will be on their road to discovery, impacting on heritage icons, must-see cities and outstanding natural environments across the world. A key topic for the year ahead will be how to maximise economic benefits while managing environmental and social downsides everywhere from Maya Bay in Thailand to the Everglades National Park in Florida; this is a global dilemma. Dispersing travellers to new icons and managing flows will require new investment in infrastructure, tourism and hospitality assets and pioneering marketing. Hoteliers need to join forces with governments and have a strong voice in developing solutions and innovative strategies.

    It’s all about me

    Hyper-personalisation and the discovery of bespoke experiences will rise in 2019, as craving the unconventional and the dazzling Instagram moment will be rocket fuelled. From private dinners with influential local figures to obscure local festivals and events in breath-taking locations, the creation of the ‘one-of-a-kind’ will have strong resonance in the year ahead. Celebration travel will grow at a rapid pace and become stronger and more innovative in content.

    Back to the future

    In unsettled times, nostalgia comes back into vogue. In this uncertain and somewhat crazy world, we believe it is back to the future with strong growth in slow travel for 2019 – river cruises, railway journeys, and heritage hotels are all hot topics. Even in the much-stereotyped China market, we are seeing shiny modern hotels losing out to heritage hotels, reflecting a desire to understand and embrace history in a rapidly changing built environment.

    Refurbish, repurpose and recycle

    As the sharing and resale economy grows apace and we increasingly reject the built-in obsolescence of so much of what we buy, product designers are reassessing product lifespans. So, what are the implications for the hospitality sector? Could 2019 see the first refurbishment strategy where 100 percent of the redesign is built upon repurposed and recycled furniture and fittings? We know of more pipeline brands in concept evolution that will connect with the market through their eco-values.

    Other trends for the forthcoming year include brands facing an ‘Identity Crisis’, as well as consumer’s entering a period of ‘Food Fanaticism.’ Lastly, WATG highlights a trend in hotel resort’s landscape using colour therapy gardens to calm guests.

    Main image credit: King Abdullah Economic City/WATG

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  • AUTHOR

    Hamish Kilburn

    All stories by: Hamish Kilburn