Today's Traveler Seeks Authentic Experiences. How Can Hotels Adapt?
What do you look for in a hotel stay? A comfortable bed? A secure room to sleep in? What about a captivating experience that makes you want to come back for more?
In this day and age, experience is more important than you might think. A 2016 report by Barkley, Inc. and Futurecast, Inc. reveals that Millennials make up 70% of all hotel guests. The same report says that one out of four surveyed Millennials “would rather spend money on a desirable experience or event instead of buying a product or service.” Given these trends, it is becoming increasingly important for the hospitality industry to find ways to provide memorable hotel experiences for their guests, rather than just rooms and beds.
Luckily, many hotels have been eager to adapt to these changes in guest preferences. For example, Netflix and in-room entertainment platform Enseo announced in 2016 that the Netflix app would be offered in even more hotels around the world. This enables guests to log into their own Netflix accounts, allowing them to relax and catch up on their own shows, giving them a personalized experience of home.
Also in 2016, Hilton added Tru by Hilton to its portfolio of brands. Tru by Hilton is intended to appeal to the Millennial traveler through its use of modern design, a 24-hour marketplace, sound-dampening workstations, and a free “Top-It” breakfast with 30 toppings guests can use to customize their meals.
Another newer hotel brand to capitalize on providing guest experiences is Moxy by Marriott, which opened its first location in Milan, Italy in 2014 and has since expanded into other European and U.S. cities. Moxy bills itself as “a boutique hotel with the social heart of a hostel. A free-spirited place where you can do all that crazy fun stuff you’d never think of doing at home, together with likeminded spirits you’d otherwise never have met.” Experience defines what sets this budget brand apart from the rest.
What can more traditional hotel brands do to adapt to guests’ changing preferences regarding experience? For one, they can start with compelling interior design and superb customer service--after all, first impressions are vital to guests desiring a positive experience.
Secondly, focus on amenities. The Holiday Inn Express & Suites Columbus – Polaris Parkway lists amenities on its site, such as its Indoor Water Recreation Area. It also emphasizes nearby shopping centers and restaurants. Likewise, the Hilton Garden Inn in West Chester, Ohio emphasizes its indoor saltwater pool, lounge, library, fitness center, and more. Having clean and comfortable rooms for guests will always be important, but to attract the modern hotel guest, it’s vital to showcase what they’ll experience during their stays as well.
Hospitality management company The Witness Group and Witness Management have started adding experience-oriented hotels to its portfolio. An Aloft Hotel, for example, is under development in West Chester, Ohio. This chain of the Starwood family of hotels (now a subsidiary of Marriott International) "celebrates the individual and gives you the freedom to control and customize your travel adventure to fit your personal style. It is a place where walls have been knocked down to create a space that is open in design and open to possibilities. A place where energy flows, personalities mingle, and opportunities abound. A place where anything can happen."
Aloft Hotels feature high-tech experiences for the tech-savvy guest. Some locations have introduced robotic butlers to assist guests, as well as smart mirrors that show guests a live weather update feed. Aloft has even introduced Aloft TiGi (Text it. Get it.) Emoji Room Service, in which guests text emojis of what they want to the front desk, then have those items delivered to their rooms within minutes. Aloft is not your grandmother's hotel!
Not every hotel will need to have robot staff on hand, but hotels do need to adapt to guests' changing preferences so they can remain a competitive force in the hospitality industry.
To learn more about The Witness Group's portfolio of experience-based hotels, click here.