Scottish Hospitality Industry: Trends and Tendencies

The hospitality industry is changing. New technology impacts the way we choose and experience our destinations, new types of vacations enter the vocabulary: from staycation and glamping to micro-adventures and smoasting. (That is social media boasting, in case you were wondering.) At the core is the visitor’s inherent desires to experience new things and see new places, combined with an industry which is both innovative and dedicated to providing top quality experiences. Let’s look at some of the trends in the Scottish hospitality industry in the year ahead. 

Local escapism

Cottage in the Highlands

The economic downturn led many Brits to cut down on foreign travel and opt for holidays closer to home – staycations became a buzzword in 2008 and is still trending on Google searches each summer. As the financial crisis is slowly turning around, local escapes are still popular, with more people opening their eyes to experiences and adventures in their local environment. Day trips have an added appeal for the cost-conscious travellers as accommodation usually racks up a significant part of a travel budget. And with many local businesses turning their attention to nearby audiences, becoming a tourist in your own town is more popular than it has been for many years. Take advantage of the local opportunities and reach out to families who want to enjoy the holiday feeling but are keen to avoid the hassle of long-distance travel!

Internet Images

Social media has changed the way we travel. From inspiration and social media boasting on image platforms like Instagram and Pinterest, checking in and tagging on Facebook and Foursquare, to sharing recommendations and reviews on Twitter and TripAdvisor – travel is connected in a way it has never been before. A big part of this is the emotional connection of images, as people share experiences and memories as they happen, whether that is on Instagram or Snapchat. The hospitality industry is capitalising on this by providing share-worthy photo opportunities, from highlighting the best spots to snap a picture, to providing luxurious treats in the room that guests want to brag and boast about. We see many visitors who are excited about a complimentary snack pack of Walkers, tagging venues and spreading the word on social media platforms – which serves as a guest-driven marketing opportunity for the hotel as well as providing a positive experience for the visitor.

Young travellers

Students and young people have traditionally not been the target audience for an ROI-focused hospitality industry. Cost-conscious and with low budgets, young travellers are always after a good deal. But as the young generations expand their horizons, become inspired by social media and want to explore their surroundings, the collective budgets available from 16-24 year olds can be significant. Offering good value deals and quality products for less, young travellers often take advantage of their flexible lifestyles and choose holidays outside the peak travel period, which can be good news for seasonally slow restaurateurs. And with a penchant for the sharing economy, collective solutions go down well with younger visitors, who are both environmentally driven and open to new forms of travel and hospitality solutions. (They are still partial to a classic chocolate chip shortbread though!)

Honest and authentic

Highland cow

Offering an authentic experience has long been a goal for businesses in the travel industry. But what does authentic really mean? Travel research shows that we are becoming more driven by personalisation and honesty, where a variety of experiences can fall under the authenticity label. Authentic Scotland? It is as much about surfing on the north coast, shopping and clubbing in Glasgow, dining out in Edinburgh and camping on Skye as it is golfing in St. Andrews or deer spotting in the Highlands. For many Scottish businesses involved in hospitality, we know that Walkers plays an integral part of providing a Scottish experience which may be traditional, but can still be delivered with a twist. Being met by complimentary shortbread at check-in or getting a gift to take home leaves guests with a positive impression, which is fundamentally Scottish – but with new variations like the Gluten Free Ginger and Lemon Shortbread, you can reach new audiences too. Walkers Shortbread offers travel and hospitality businesses a quality product which is both luxurious and authentic – and still good value.

Travel tech trends

As we become more and more dependent on our smartphones, free wi-fi is not just a bonus, it is an expectation. Guests use their own devices for in-room entertainment, business travellers require internet for work, and attractions offer ticketless entry using mobile phones. The Internet of Things has entered the hotel industry, with smartphone controlled environments like room temperature, lights and television. We are seeing moves towards the check-in and check-out process becoming more automated, and some travellers manage their stay in Scotland almost exclusively online. As roaming charges are thankfully looking to become more a thing of the past, providers of both accommodation and experiences can also take advantage of guests who are keen to learn more online before, during and after their stay.


2016 is likely to be a year where the global meets the hyper-local, and where micro becomes the new measure. Micro-breweries have been popular for a long time, and tourists are starting to flock to micro-hotels, pop-up shops and unique, personalised experiences which offer the best from that very spot. Take advantage of the trend by highlighting the local, the uniquely Scottish and the nearby – whether that is a walking tour outside your premises, local goods produced nearby or events that showcase local talent.

However you see the impact of travel trends in 2016, contact the Walkers team to find out how we can help you offer your guests and visitors the best Scottish experience – whether they are domestic travellers or international visitors.

Sources: Visit Scotland 2016 trendsBig Hospitality Hotel Trends of 2016, Hospitality Trends, Cloudbeds and TravelMarket Report Trends for 2016