From a meditation app competing with a spa to a hotel encouraging its guests to save coral reefs, the hospitality industry has never been so vivacious. We’ve pinpointed five emerging trends that present both opportunities and threats for hotel concept development.
Every hotel outlet is now being disrupted by a digital equivalent. That’s not necessarily a bad thing for hoteliers. This disruption has forced hoteliers to rethink their value proposition around a simple question: What can I offer that these digital upstarts can’t ? One answer to this question has been to provide guests with unique on-site experiences. The other option is to double down on service quality and operational excellence.
Hotels and retail companies are finally realizing that they have a lot in common. It’s time for hotels to harness that potential. An increasing number of new real estate developments are bringing retail and hospitality closer together. It makes sense. Both activities aim to optimize revenue per square meter and offer an immersive customer experience.
As customer expectations towards hotels evolve, the traditional model in which rooms create revenue and facilities serve as support is fading. And whilst hotels will continue to rely on their rooms as their main revenue source, a thoughtful retail strategy can help drive the overall perceived value of a hotel - and offer a welcome additional revenue stream.
Global distribution is no longer a competitive advantage for hotels. New channels are necessary. When online travel agencies (OTAs) arrived at the turn of the millennium, they levelled the playing field between big global brands and local hoteliers. To make matters worse, standard layouts and quantitative search criteria (number of stars, room price, average user reviews) are making it even harder for hotels to showcase their unique attributes. To stand apart from the crowd, hoteliers must now seek out new distribution channels.
It is not just customers who crave a sense of community. Hotels need to belong, too. Belonging is an existential human need. On the famous Maslow pyramid of needs, belonging ranks third, just after physiological and safety needs. When traveling, our modern, connected lifestyles offer countless options for networking or for unearthing “local gems” - yet many travelers feel isolated when visiting a new city.
To capitalize on this need, savvy hoteliers have devised concepts that heavily market a community aspect. Successful communities are connected by a golden thread. It can be a place, a shared belief or an aspiration, but it has to be defined. Conversely, that means some people will feel left out. Hotels have to resist the need to be “everything to everyone”, lest they lose that sense of belonging.
As the world reaches new heights of mass-tourism, it’s time for hotels to finally be different. We live in an age of unprecedented freedom when it comes to travel, and low-cost airlines and online deals have made most corners of the world easily accessible.
Hotels have been adapting, changing their interior design, amenities and activities to reflect popular trends, with no link to their own unique concept. Discovery, escapism and relaxation – what made traveling exciting in the first place – are being replaced by bucket lists, must-sees and like counters. Hoteliers eschewing the bright lights of civilization have also found new demand from travelers wishing to disconnect, sometimes literally.
This article is extracted from the Hotel Concept Handbook, developed by Creative Supply in partnership with EHL and has been used to create winning hotel concepts. For hoteliers, it helps to create integrated, compelling concepts that attract the interest of guests and industry professionals alike by linking storytelling to operations or design. The Hotel Concept Framework is taught every year to students at EHL.