Redefining the hotel experience for the modern traveler requires seamless technology, photo-worthy spaces and memorable moments.
Seemingly every company in the hospitality sector is marketing themselves as an experience versus a product because travelers today are no longer content with just being a tourist. They want to be fully immersed in the destination and engage in authentic cultural activities.
We expect a continued growth in guests seeking a more genuine experience, yet ironically also see that this exploratory drive is underpinned by the need to share each and every moment on social media. Technology has created an environment that allows people to constantly watch others visit amazing places around the world, fueling globalization and inspiring them to book their own travels to align themselves with their network peers.
So how do hotels make themselves stand out to the modern traveler?
Deliver fun, seamless technology
The answer is to create tech-friendly atmospheres equipped with gadgets and toys like tablets, voice assistants, automatic lighting, motorized equipment, or even roomservice robots. At Fairfield Inn & Suites San Diego North/San Marcos, a robot delivers sundries to guests and the reaction is often “wow.”
Connecting with these tech-savvy guests enhances loyalty because it improves the guest journey at every touchpoint through increased personalization and convenience. In addition, it helps hoteliers run their business more effectively and enhances staff productivity.
Technology should now be looked at as a long-term revenue generating investment and is becoming readily available at cost-effective prices. It is an investment that keeps on giving by continuously placing hotels in a position to adapt to evolving guest demands, especially business travelers who need technology the most.
Provide visually interesting spaces to gather
Guests are inclined to share their favorite moments of a stay on social media. This isn’t a new trend, nor is it going away anytime soon. So, to compete for continued guest loyalty and business, hotels must provide social-worthy spaces. When reimagining a space that is aligned with the hotel’s concept, yet bold in design, hoteliers need to consider the guest journey. These spaces should grab the attention of guests from the moment they step foot in the hotel, making them excited about their stay and encouraging them to capture the moment.
Discoverable moments should also be present throughout the hotel, eliciting surprised joy and storytelling. For example, when a guest turns down a corridor to the lobby elevators and sees a “live” succulent wall, it can instantly become a talking piece that they share on Snapchat. Or something as simple as brightly colored chairs and shade umbrellas by the pool could inspire an Instagram post.
Creating social-media-ready spaces is an easy and cost-effective way for hotels to not only get free publicity, but also keep their guests coming back for more.
Curate memorable moments
As guests continue to seek out memories and photo-worthy moments over traditional souvenirs, be the hotel that offers those breathtaking, new adventures. Memorable moments are dependent on unique personalization and enable travelers to engage with their destination in an exciting way.
Hotels need to not only make sure their guests feel like true guests, but cater to their preferences and travel goals by presenting unforgettable experiences. An easy way to do this is by sending guests a customized list of local events and activities. These guides can be offered through the hotel’s mobile website or a dedicated native app, as long as they are user-friendly and relevant.
If we look at why some hotels are full and others are not, it is not an easy analysis. Sure, location is paramount to success and brands add real value, but today’s guests are looking for something beyond location and brand loyalty—they want an experience to write about, shoot photos at and talk about. Branded hotels and resorts need to be aware of the competition from short-term rentals, especially in the group segment. Some may argue that vacation rental companies like Airbnb serve a different customer, but we are both aiming to provide a unique space for people to stay together to create treasured memories. Alas, brands and locations alone do not offer memories.
So in the battle for market share between private properties and traditional hotels, hotels need to promote the facilities that give them a competitive edge like on-site food services, swimming pools, fitness rooms and front-desk/concierge services. Most private rentals, especially those in suburban homes, lack these amenities. And while we must keep delivering on what it means to stay at a hotel—location, amenities, and service—we also need to give the modern guest what they want. By partnering with local tour operators to offer new, creative options for guests, hotels can provide event tickets, adventure tours, surfing lessons and wine or beer tours.
Start now and see the results by summer!
Robert A. Rauch, CHA, is an internationally-recognized hotelier, CEO and founder of RAR Hospitality, a leading hospitality management and consulting firm based in San Diego. Rauch has more than 35 years of hospitality-related management experience in all facets of the industry.
Sarah Andersen is the Business Development Manager at RAR Hospitality. She earned a Master's degree in Hospitality Management from Boston University with a focus in real estate development and marketing and has experience in event coordination and sales.
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