What Trends Are Emerging in Hospitality in 2024?

September 1, 2023
Rory Mongomery
A look back at the SA state of Hospitality in 2023

South Africa enjoyed the recovery year of tourism that many of us have been waiting for in 2023, now we look towards the big comeback that’s lingering in the distant future. Data released from Stats SA show that the country welcomed a total of 5.5 million tourists from January to August 2023, with an impressive high season seeing increased travel from 2022 numbers.

We previously mentioned that SA’s tourism industry is expected to grow at a rate of 7.6% over the next 10 years, significantly faster compared to the projected 1.8% annual growth rate of the SA economy, these numbers signify and reinforce the inherent vital role that tourism plays in South Africa GDP. By 2023, tourism is expected to contribute nearly R554.6 billion (7.4% of the total economy) to annual GDP according to the World Travel and Tourism Council.

It’s not up for debate that trends and expectations within the hospitality industry have changed significantly over the past three years. We’ve seen this on a global scale in how restaurants and hotels have responded to travel and movement restrictions as well as health considerations. 

All of these factors have played a role in the trends emerging from 2023 and expanding into 2024 within hospitality, and the South African hospitality sector is no exception. So what changes can we expect to see within hospitality over the coming year, and what opportunities do they present?

What trends are emerging in South Africa’s hospitality industry?

At a local level, the South African government is targeting domestic and international business travellers through its MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions) strategy in a bid to boost tourism growth. Domestic tourism is also on the uptick with tourists taking advantage of the eased lockdown restrictions to enjoy local travel and holidays. 

But beyond progressive trends emerging in types of travel on the rise, guests’ expectations regarding the booking and kind of experience they’re looking to have is changing too. 

On a global scale, guests are more price sensitive due to OTAs engaging in pricing wars to win more bookings. This has made guests more discerning when it comes to making reservations due to the extensive choice of booking platforms and prices at their fingertips. Being agile and swift to respond, not just to your guests, but also to any price or amenity changes your competitors implement can help you to stand out. 

What hospitality trends can we expect to see in 2024?

Beyond progressive trends and patterns emerging in types of travel currently on the rise, guests’ expectations regarding the booking and kind of experience they’re looking to have is changing too. This directly impacts the hospitality trends we can expect to see front and centre in 2024.

Hyperpersonalisation is non-negotiable

It’s no longer enough to offer rudimentary digital experiences like online booking and check-in options because guests have to come to expect them. They’re the norm, not the exception. Hotels and restaurants need to think bigger in terms of the guest experience they’re looking to deliver. 

Hyperpersonalisation sounds somewhat lofty but offers the means to do just this. Investing in tools that collect, assess and analyse guest data based on past bookings, purchases and page visits can deliver the intelligence you need to level up the personalisation you deliver, from communications to special deals and offers. 

The experience economy will drive millennial and Gen Z travel habits

Guests aren’t just looking for personalisation in their reservations, they’re looking for unique, memorable experiences that add value to their trips. In a study conducted by Expedia on younger travellers between the ages of 18 and 34, 80% of respondents said that they would be willing to pay more to upgrade their experiences. 

The experience economy is a key driver of millennial and Gen Z travel preferences and trends. Offering purchasable experiences on your booking platform can attract a wider net of younger holidaymakers, as well as offering things like free cancellation or free room upgrades. 

More renewable and alternative energy sources

Load shedding is a uniquely South African problem, and it’s not going away anytime soon, unfortunately for all of us. Guests, both local and international, travelling in South Africa are looking to book accommodation that’s demonstrably resilient and adaptable to ongoing power cuts.

Investing fully or at least partially in alternative sources of power, from generators to inverters and power banks that keep Wi-Fi powered can encourage guests (especially international ones) to book with you, boosting your reservation rate. Beyond this, investing in energy-efficient switches and light bulbs also reduces power consumption overall. 

The growing presence of AI and VR

Artificial intelligence is proliferating in just about every industry, so it’s unsurprising to expect to see more of it in hospitality in 2024. ChatGPT is already being incorporated into hotel and restaurant communication strategies, augmenting and speeding up manual processes. I’ve already discussed ChatGPT’s potential use cases within hospitality, but it’s likely soon going to become the norm to see it being utilised to some extent by most people. 

Virtual reality is also likely to play a key role in augmenting hospitality marketing efforts. Videos providing 360-degree virtual tours of hotel rooms, restaurants and nearby attractions across booking platforms allow guests to explore at the click of a button, boosting the likelihood of them making a reservation. 


While these are unlikely to be the only trends we see materialising in 2024, the focus is heavily on differentiating and personalising the guest experience, from booking to communications to tailored offerings and immersive marketing. 

Investing in a robust tool that automates your reservations and communications and streamlines your operations from a single platform, while providing the intelligent insight you need for targeted and tailored marketing, can help you succeed on all fronts. 

Let NebulaPOS look after your business, while you look after people.

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