Trendline Issue 06: Ephemeral

Bi-Monthly Newsletter

Welcome to Trendline, a bi-monthly newsletter created in partnership between The Gettys Group Companies and TrendWatching. Here we examine TrendWatching’s global insights into numerous industries through the hospitality lens, considering the possible implications and applications to our industry. 

In each issue, we will focus on one of TrendWatching’s sixteen Mega-Trends—their comprehensive list of the ways in which human needs and expectations are changing while defining modern consumerism.


Issue 06 / Ephemeral

In this issue, we’ll examine the Ephemeral trend—the scarcity of time and its consequences. While consumers may seek to speed through some experiences, but slow down to savor others, one constant consumer objective remains: to extract as much value as possible from every moment.

These consumer expectations are concurrently contradictory and fickle, and hospitality brands—at all levels—must consider how they can support the ever-increasing need for guest experiences to contract or expand in time (or at least appear to). As we seek to design brand experiences, we consider these key questions:

  1. How can hotels and restaurants eliminate as much friction as possible from the guest experience? TrendWatching refers to this as “saving attention.”

  2. Alternatively, what can the hospitality industry do to make the guests’ time and experiences with their brands more enticing, valuable and memorable? TrendWatching refers to this as “seizing attention.”

Success requires a masterful balance of saving and seizing attention with thoughtful pacing that’s based upon a thorough understanding of the customer experience.

"Nearly three-quarters of business leaders (73%) said that delivering a relevant and reliable customer experience is critical to their company’s overall business performance today, and almost all (93%) agreed that it would be two years from now."

Harvard Business Review Analytic Services
Closing the Customer Experience Gap
January 2017

Ephemerality's Contributing Factors

There are several specific trends in consumer behavior that contribute to the ever-increasing significance of this Mega-Trend:

On-Demand Decade
We now live in an on-demand environment; the acceptable duration of time between a desire and its fulfillment has shrunk to be nearly instantaneous. It’s expected that technology can help us speed up anything and everything.

Status Sandcastles
Collecting experiences and stories has become a competitive social media sport; fleeting moments become units of status—captured, immediately shared, re-shared and then usurped in the social feed. This trend addresses both of our contradictory needs regarding time: to speed up and avoid the trivial, and to slow down and savor the unique.

Take a Break
More consumers are opting out of our always-turned-on world, reclaiming time for their own Betterment—our ongoing quest to improve ourselves physically, mentally and spiritually.

Singapore’s first Unmanned Telco Pop-Up Store: Singtel’s Unboxed store offers facial-recognition kiosks “manned” by bots—with mystery gifts and exclusive discounts to help attract visitors who may have reservations about this new kind of shopping experience.

The Gettys Group Companies: How do you expedite a guest’s journey while simultaneously acting as their destination?

TrendWatching: Some brands have decided that guests can serve themselves more effectively and efficiently without “help”—eliminating servers, desks, clerks and a transaction from the equation completely; for example, we’re seeing more experimental, unmanned stores popping up throughout the world. The upside is lower operating costs; the trade-off is a loss of engagement with human brand representatives, leaving the in-store products and and on-site environment to do the brand-lifting.

The Gettys Group Companies: There are, of course, many other examples of selective replacement of humans with automation to speed up the consumer’s experience. We recently discussed the Ocean Medallion offered by Carnival Cruise Lines; guests receive a medallion programmed to unlock rooms, make purchases, gamble and more during their voyage—a similar product to Disney’s MagicBands. Now, guests’ own mobile phones can be used for similar functionality through apps like Hilton Digital Key. We’re seeing more of this friction-reducing technology finding its way into hospitality; where else have you observed opportunities for human contact being replaced and streamlined by technology?

Carnival Cruise Line’s Ocean Medallion: “MedallionClass is intended to be the most personalized, the most simple vacation experience that exists on the planet at scale.” – John Padgett, Chief Innovation & Experience Officer, Carnival Cruise Line

TrendWatching: Robots have selectively replaced hospitality team members at hotels like Alibaba Group’s FlyZoo Hotel—where room selection, check-in, elevator and room access, in-room controls, room service and even cocktails in the bar are automated. Alibaba is using their hotel as a testing ground for their technology, which they intend to sell to other hotel operators. I think that this tech can free up team members to focus on other guest-facing experiences, and, frankly, I like that I don’t have to tip a robot that delivers toothpaste to my room.

FlyZoo Hotel Automation: While the FlyZoo Hotel speeds guests efficiently through their stay, it also slows them down to appreciate the novelty of their technology.

The Gettys Group Companies: Let’s shift our focus over to slowing things down. When hotels and restaurants provide moments of surprise and delight, they’re generally intended to capture the imaginations of their guests—allowing them to pause and savor the experience—but in another recent example, Carl’s Jr. sought to literally slow down their customers; on April 20, one location in Denver served the Rocky Mountain High, a burger with a CBD-infused sauce meant to calm and relax diners—somewhat literally inducing a food coma.

TrendWatching: Here in my hometown of New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art is now host to The Museum Workout, an early morning tour combined with a dance/exercise class, staged before the museum opens.  Set to a curated disco soundtrack and inspired by the poses of the sculptures, it’s a new and memorable way to experience the spaces and collections. Ron, you should come to New York and we can film a podcast of this firsthand!

The Museum Workout: “Turns out, a little music and movement really can make you see things differently.” – NPR Morning Edition

TrendWatching: I saw another cool thing happening near me; Mini has created a maker space in Brooklyn called A/D/O—short for Amalgamated Drawing Office—where members  and non-members can shop, eat, collaborate, create, learn from speakers like David Byrne and join Urban-X—a start-up accelerator with a mission to reimagine city life. What have you seen that you have been itching to try in Chicago?

The Gettys Group Companies: The new Apple Store on the Chicago River regularly hosts interesting events in its waterside Forum space, and, everywhere, Apple has reinvigorated their educational programming with Today at Apple: Skills, Walks and Labs, which offers hands-on group sessions focused on photography, video, music, coding, app development, art, design and more. The sessions are free at every Apple Store worldwide to support the program’s goal of unlocking creativity, inspiring learning and encouraging connection.

Built by Mini:In the midst of an acute fuel shortage, Sir Alec Issigonis set up a secret design office to develop a small car that would break all the rules of car engineering at the time. The name of his team: Amalgamated Drawing Office, A/D/O.  Its approach continues to inspire us to this day.” –About A/D/O


When we think about the duality and fickleness of consumers within the context of the Ephemeral trend, we should remember that hospitality offers a more immersive and longer experience than many other industries. We have a unique ability to speed up certain aspects of the guest journey—those that annoy guests the most, like standing in lines—and to stretch out the positive and memorable moments.

For a complete list of Mega-Trends and more examples of trends being spotted around the world, please visit

Read the Previous Issue


Trendline Issue 05 / Playsumers

No matter the age on our IDs, we welcome it when brands invite us to engage in play. Play brings joy, joy leads to positive affiliations with a brand—and that leads to increased brand value.

How can hotels use the latest tech to create playfully joyful experiences that capture their guests’ imaginations—or even help their fantasies come to life?

Read more…

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With a passion for pioneering ideas and new approaches to hospitality, Ron identifies strategic growth initiatives for the company and serves as the lead in charge of the Branding Group, directing planning, design and strategic thinking for projects ranging from boutique properties, large-scale events and international brands. A collaborative and an innovative thinker, Ron has shaped dozens of hotel, resort and brand initiatives during his three decades at The Gettys Group Companies.



Maxwell is the head of TrendWatching’s North America office. He speaks at conferences around the world and delivers consumer insights to clients such as Google, the Walt Disney Imagineers, Spotify and the Dubai government. Max has been quoted by The Financial Times, strategy+business and The Next Web. He previously ran the company's 3000-member spotter network and wrote the book Trend-Driven Innovation.