Future gazing: what will hospitality be like in 2033?

28 June 2022 by

From virtual fast food to melon crops in the UK and legal highs, operators share their hopes, dreams and predictions for the future of hospitality

The joy of jellyfish

Nina Matsunga, chef-patron, the Black Bull, Sedbergh

"Jellyfish are actually one of the few foods that we can remove from the sea and it would have a positive effect – they're a hugely invasive species. In the past few years jellyfish numbers have exploded, particularly in the Mediterranean because of rising sea temperatures and the decline in predation by dwindling stocks of red tuna, swordfish and sea turtles. Jellyfish works with pretty much any Asian flavours, including sesame, Chinese vinegar, Japanese mayo and the like."

Tailor-made diets

Oli Williamson, head chef, The Fat Duck, Bray, Maidenhead

"I think by 2033 chefs will need to take in the fact that we will see personalised healthy eating schemes and diets that are tailored to people in some way. I believe alternative proteins will be well under way, with a lot less dairy and meat in diets – we already have 3D-printed meat and I think that will be expanded on – while proteins such as crickets or ants will begin to look more common on menus."

Hotels will be a lifestyle choice, not just a bed

Shaun Wright, revenue application and systems manager, Hand Picked Hotels, and 2022 Acorn Award winner

"As an industry, hospitality has often been regarded as behind the curve when it comes to driving innovation and technological advances, but not any more. The global pandemic accelerated a drive to harness every opportunity to source and nurture customer data in a digital environment, and we've already come on leaps and bounds, with faster and more responsive revenue tools, intuitive customer apps and enhanced reporting.

"Given we operate with multiple market segments, from leisure to weddings, dining and spa, the opportunities are huge. It's exciting to think it should soon be possible, even with such a wide customer base as ours, to present our business as a one-stop shop and a real lifestyle opportunity for our guests to buy into.

"Allowing our customers to browse, select and add to their basket an array of opportunities to experience in a single transaction – similar to major online retailers such as Amazon – seems imminently achievable, and I'd love to see us get there. The impact on the customer journey and the revenue and conversion uplift would be significant, not to mention reducing behind the scenes manual processes. And that's just the tip of the iceberg, with business leaders and industry suppliers all spearheading continual growth in hospitality tech. I'm in!"

Natural hotels and no-alcohol holidays

Samantha Trinder, owner, Bingham Riverhouse, Richmond

"I think connecting with nature will be a trend that will only continue as operators need to hit sustainability targets. Hotels with swimming pools, saunas and jacuzzis use a lot of energy, so maybe in the future we'll see more wild swimming in lakes and rivers, such as at retreat 42 Acres in Somerset. At the Bingham we're looking at river swimming – subject to health and safety – as we're so close to the Thames in Richmond. Meanwhile, we might see fewer country houses with manicured lawns and a return to leaving land wild and natural for guests to enjoy nature, with activities like forest bathing and foraging.

"I also think there is a growing sober-curious movement and I wonder whether there might be hotels that are completely alcohol free in 2033. There are sober festivals, so why not a sober boutique hotel? While alcohol has a massive margin, a lot of the alcohol-free products such as Seedlip or Lucky Saint have high margins.

"And, since we're looking into the next decade, it's a bit far out, but the world of wellness is changing and I can see plant medicine being used more as there is more awareness for people suffering from mental health challenges, depression and addiction. Plant medicine journeys are ancient practices, but lend themselves to a modern hotel setting and could be a treatment some spas may offer in the future."

Different weather, different crops

Charles Abraham, director, Sodexo

"As our climate gets warmer, it will open us up to new crops. Could the south of England suddenly become the next olive growing area? While climate change isn't a good thing for anybody, it will potentially bring some changes around what's locally available, and maybe we'll be growing fields of melons in a decade's time."

A different look at nutrition

Kirk Haworth, chef-patron, Plates, London

"The main thing for me is seaweed. Seaweed right now is where veganism was five years ago, and we're going to start seeing mass amounts of seaweed in mainstream foods. Nutritionally it's quite mind-blowing, and sustainability-wise it's the most eco-friendly thing going, because it feeds itself and re­creates cells – it's incredible. We know there are more than 5,000 seaweed varieties but only maybe five or 10 are used in the mainstream, so there's a whole new world in the ocean waiting to be explored. It's so flexible: different seaweeds have different nutritional types, textures, flavours and intensities.

"Mushrooms will also see a massive push, and again there's so much we don't know about their capabilities in the nutritional space. We might see the addition of highly nutritional content into food and there's also aloe vera, which I think has been touched on with Asian drinks, but no one's really looked at it properly." Chris Galvin, chef-patron, Galvin Restaurants Automation is on its way.

"Dining out in everyday restaurants will increase because of more leisure time and our need to connect with others across a table as the digital age heads us into a more insular life. Sites we consider casual might be brasseries/bistros, modern British, pubs, street food and top-notch chain restaurants (I don't think mediocre chains will be tolerated in the future). Because of labour costs and people's desire to work more flexible hours, I believe more automation, the use of artificial intelligence and customer self-service will be the norm for ordering, collecting and paying."

Technology will be selected to match its environment

Tom Cheesewright, applied futurist

"The more digital things become, the more people crave the physical – you only have to look at lockdown to see how people desperately wanted to get out and do something different when they were stuck at home behind a screen.

"But fast-forward 10 years when we're spending 10 hours a day wearing mixed-reality glasses in the metaverse, surrounded by virtual stuff, and there will be a split – you might keep the glasses on in a fast-food venue, and speak to virtual assistants at the till while a virtual Ronald McDonald roams around entertaining the kids, but the contrast will be the Michelin-star experience, where you are asked to remove your glasses to enjoy it. It's about taking advantage of the technology being used.

"We might see people flying abroad less often to reduce carbon footprints, but when they do it will be for longer. There will be a change in the nature of how we work, so some jobs may allow people to take six months off every five years, which will have a knock-on effect on the travel market as people take advantage of the continued shift in weather patterns. And there will be a lot of interest in coastal properties, for instance, we're already seeing Northumberland becoming the ‘Cornwall of the North'."

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