THE BRAND EXPERIENCE
- Industry experts agree that the hotel of the future will be completely personalized. From the height of the desk chair and bathroom mirror and the firmness of the mattress to room temperature, all of these will be to each guest�s liking when they enter the guest room. Inspired by advancing technology and pioneers such as Amazon, the hospitality industry will mine and use data to create a customized experience similar to the one we already see in the e-commerce world.
�The cookie-cutter in-room experience has to die,� says internationally-recognized keynote-speaker Dr. Lalia Rach, associate dean, UW-Stout School of Hospitality Leadership, Menomonie, WI, and founder of Rach Enterprises. �We�ve talked about customization for a long time now,� she notes. �We�ve talked about the colors of the room changing, about what�s on the walls changing to be more reflective of the person who is in the room. But it�s not just the physical, it�s the intangible.�
2. Customized Service
- In tandem with the move toward personalization will come a trend toward customized service. �When I land in New York, why can�t I receive a text saying, �Looking forward to seeing you at our hotel today. Do you need anything?�� posits Rach. �It�s getting to the point that if I grant you permission to know where I am location-wise, you should know what matters to me.�
Pillow menus were once all the rage. From a down-filled pillow to a sound pillow with built-in speakers, this was considered a high-end amenity. Rach is not impressed. �Don�t offer me a smorgasbord of choices. Make sure the pillow I like is in my room. If Amazon can do it, why can�t the hotel industry?�
3. Female Friendly
- Julia Sutton, COO of Exhale Enterprises, which runs 22 spas in the US and the Caribbean, says many female executives do not feel that the hotel industry has embraced them. This will no longer be the case in the hotel of the future. Some hotel companies, Kimpton and Hyatt included, have already launched female-friendly programs that cater specifically toward women travelers.
- Hotels of the future will seek new ways to create experiences. Already, lobbies increasingly are being transformed into multi-use spaces where groups can eat, drink, work, socialize and take in museum-quality artwork.
Activity options such as the on-site art room in the Gastwerk, a hotel in Hamburg, Germany, that was a former gas plant, will be commonplace. The popular attraction features an artist in residence; hotel guests can pop into his studio and watch him create his works, which are featured throughout the hotel.
The Marriott Marquis Washington, DC, scheduled to open May 1, will be home to one of the US� most impressive sculptures in a hotel�Birth of the American Flag�by renowned artist Rodney Carroll. The 56-foot sculpture, the centerpiece of the new property, is viewable from the ground-floor lobby, mezzanine and the interior-facing guest rooms. It will be the largest piece of art in any Marriott hotel.
5. Grab and Go
- More casual dining establishments are becoming popular, where guests can get a quick bite at a reasonable price and enjoy communal seating with Wi-Fi and plenty of plugs.
Herb N� Kitchen is a new dining concept created by Hilton that is now available in the New York Hilton Midtown, the largest hotel in Manhattan. Herb N� Kitchen infuses fresh, local gourmet food into an upscale, casual restaurant and convenient culinary market. It also invites guests into the dining experience by enabling them to see their meals prepared.
6. Hotel Brands Will Redefine Themselves into Boutique-Like Niches
- This is already happening, but in the future, more hotel brands will offer meeting groups and other travelers an array of chain options based on demographics. �Brands are being challenged because many travelers do not prefer standardization as much as in the past. Edition is an example of a new approach to hotel branding,� explains Bjorn Hanson, Ph.D., Tisch Center for Hospitality at NYU.
Edition is a Marriott boutique hotel that will anchor a 100-city chain, in an effort to attract a younger crowd. The brand was conceived with the help of boutique hotelier Ian Schrager. Marriott International has launched another hotel brand, Moxy, also aimed at the Millennial traveler.
Indeed, the lucrative Millennial segment is having a big effect on what the hotel of the future will look like. �With this generation, travel is no longer discretionary, it�s a right�and that�s a different reality,� notes Rach.
Starwood Hotels & Resorts has its Aloft brand, with more than 75 hotels in 14 countries. �For the always-on next generation of traveler, Aloft offers a tech-forward, vibrant experience and a modern style that is different by design,� says Brian McGuinness, Sr. VP, Starwood. �We are aware of the power of Gen Yers specifically, who are poised to become the largest consumer group in the history of the US and, therefore, the future market for most consumer brands. Gen Y is made up of more than 75 million individuals, and they spend $200 billion each year on consumer products and experiences. Loft-like guest rooms, a buzzing W XYZ bar scene in the open lobby, an urban-inspired grab-and-go café and industrial design elements throughout make Aloft a far cry from the conventional cookie-cutter brands.�
7. Name-Brand Fitness Centers and Spas
- Another trend that will continue is hotels and resorts featuring name-brand fitness centers and spas as a way to differentiate themselves and bump up offerings while offloading the bulk of investments on a partner.
Properties are pairing up with fitness brands such as Exhale, Core Performance, DavidBartonGym and SoulCycle. �Hotels are now trying to create a lifestyle for their guests,� says Sutton. �They can no longer get away with just putting a gym in or a regular spa.�
8. Celebrity-Chef Restaurants
- Hotels and resorts have already been adding celebrity-chef restaurants at an unprecedented rate. The days of a hotel restaurant thinking it can rely on a captive audience are long over. They are being judged just like restaurants in the retail space.
Doyle, Andrea, �The Hotel of the Future,� Successful Meetings, February 12, 2014
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