The hospitality sector: what lies ahead for 2024?

As we ready ourselves for a brand-new year, the promise of what 2024 might bring for the hospitality sector gives cause for emotions ranging from optimism and excitement to apprehension and unease.

As we ready ourselves for a brand-new year, the promise of what 2024 might bring for the hospitality sector gives cause for emotions ranging from optimism and excitement to apprehension and unease.

It is a year that will almost certainly provide a general election, England and Scotland will feature in the Euro 2024 football competition (with Wales still fighting for a place), and a raft of new trends and technologies will likely emerge.

In this blog, we explore what 2024 might hold for hospitality businesses and why many believe it could be the year that optimism prevails.


Politics will dominate

Exactly when it will occur remains unknown, but it is a safe bet that the British people will go to the polls at some point in the year (maybe as early as Spring) and vote for a new government.

With the subsequent shifts in policy and economic climate likely, a potential lowering of taxes could stimulate spending, benefiting restaurants, hotels, pubs, and bars alike. Depending on its scale, a fiscal easing may rejuvenate consumer confidence and drive a resurgence in dining out and domestic travel.

Any change in government or policy could impact regulations, labour laws, and operational costs for hospitality businesses, triggering a need to adapt to new compliance standards and capitalise on more favourable economic policies. As such, agility will be the key to success for hospitality businesses, as well as an ability to quickly adjust to a changing political and economic environment while maintaining the highest service quality.

Naturally, 2024's economic outlook will also be a crucial factor. If the economy trends upwards, disposable incomes may rise, leading to increased spending on leisure activities. Conversely, a downturn could push businesses into more aggressive innovation to attract cost-conscious consumers.

Whatever happens, keeping a keen eye on these economic indicators will be essential for the strategic planning needed to sustain growth.


Possible trends for 2024

Culinary trends in 2024 are expected to draw influences from across the globe, with African-inspired cuisine on the rise and health-conscious choices remaining popular.

Elsewhere, sustainability will become more than a buzzword and is anticipated to become a core principle in menu creation, emphasising locally sourced and seasonal ingredients.

Overall, consumer preferences increasingly lean towards healthier, plant-based options, reflecting a broader societal shift towards wellness and environmental responsibility. Restaurants and cafes could see a surge in demand for vegan and vegetarian dishes, alongside a growing interest in organic and non-GMO food products as awareness of food’s impact on personal health and the planet continues to grow.

2024 could also witness an evolution in hospitality experiences where meals are coupled with unique and immersive experiences. Think themed dinners, chef-table experiences, or meals paired with interactive events as consumer desire for memorable, Instagram-worthy experiences over just food and drink become ever more popular.


Role of AI & technology

AI and technology appear set to redefine the hospitality sector in 2024. From AI-driven customer service bots and automated booking systems to smart room technology in hotels, the integration of such technological advancements will enhance efficiency and personalise customer experiences.

As the year progresses, AI could also revolutionise menu planning and inventory management, helping reduce waste and increase profitability.

Payment innovations are another area to watch. The rise of contactless payments, mobile wallets, and even cryptocurrency options will streamline transactions and cater to a tech-savvy consumer base that values convenience and security. This shift could also provide valuable data insights, enabling businesses to tailor their offerings effectively.

One thing that won’t change will be the importance of robust insurance policies. With the integration of technology in hospitality business processes comes the increased risk of cyber threats. Businesses must invest in comprehensive insurance policies covering digital assets, data breaches, and other tech-related vulnerabilities. This foresight will be vital in safeguarding against the financial and reputational damage such incidents can cause.


A summer of sport

Few events see the hospitality sector bursting at the seams with spend-happy customers quite like international sporting tournaments. In 2024, there’ll be two. 

With Scotland (and possibly Wales) joining England in Germany for Euro 2024, the whole island of Britain could have a vested interest in the competition. The same goes for the Olympics, which also take place in 2024 in Paris.

This brace of summer sporting galas presents enormous opportunities for the hospitality sector. Not only are pubs and bars set to benefit from an influx of sports fans, but restaurants and hotels could also benefit. Many of those finishing their drinks will look for somewhere local to eat. Others may decide to make a weekend of it and book a stay in a hotel or B&B elsewhere in the country.


Optimism abounds

There can be little doubt that 2024 holds immense potential for the UK hospitality sector.

Through a promising blend of technological advancements, evolving consumer preferences, major sporting events, and a shifting political landscape, reasons to be cheerful are plentiful.

As ever, staying ahead of new trends and capitalising on crucial developments demands an ability to adapt swiftly and innovate with confidence. 

Read about everything small business on our blog.