Five Successful Models of Incorporating Heritage into Hotel Development

By Larry K. Kimball Director of Hotel Development, C. W. Clark, Inc. | April 30, 2010

Developers fortunate enough to have an opportunity to develop hotels in or near heritage areas have a duty to incorporate history into their project. Cultural heritage activities are one of tourism’s biggest market opportunities but how to capture it? This article outlines five models to profitably attract and retain those visitors and their discretionary dollars:

  1. Select site with marketable and sustainable heritage attributes
  2. Integrate the hotel into the community
  3. Design heritage into the facility
  4. Develop a consistent visitor message
  5. Create heritage daily

The resulting historic hospitality will add to the richness of both the guest experience and the community.

Marketable and Sustainable Heritage Sites

Try to be picky about your site. A glossy brochure itself does not connote heritage so select a site with a documented past. For example, why does it take an act of Congress to get a National Heritage Area? Answer-that is how these historically significant areas are designated and preserved for future generations.

Since there are currently only 49 National Heritage Areas (NHA), it’s understandable why they are not household names. Not to be confused with national parks, each NHA played an important role in the history of the U.S. According to the criteria to become a NHA, “the landscape must have nationally distinctive natural, cultural, historic, and scenic resources that, when linked together, tell a unique story about our country.” Created through Congressional designation, NHAs are locally-managed and focus on heritage-centered interpretation and conservation that are grounded in a community’s pride. NHAs by definition offer residents and visitors a gateway for immersion into history and the local landscape. That’s why hotels in or near NHAs should pay tribute to the local area and incorporate heritage into the guest experience.

While the movie remake “3:10 to Yuma” was a recent commercial success, most people probably can not find Yuma on a map. That is surprising because Yuma has helped shape U.S. history for hundreds of years. Long the traditional homeland of the Quechan Indian Tribe, the Yuma Crossing National Heritage Area is along the Colorado River on the California and Arizona border. Because of geology, geographically Yuma served as the key crossing point on the lower Colorado River in the 19th century and opened the southern route for expansion of the western U.S. Today, the Yuma Crossing National Heritage Area’s mission is to “conserve, enhance, and interpret the natural and cultural resources of the community through collaboration and partnerships.”

Coming up in January 2018...

Mobile Technology: Relentless Innovation

Technology has become a crucial component in attracting and retaining hotel guests, and the need to enhance a guest’s technology experience is driving a relentless pace of innovation. To meet and exceed guest expectations, 54% of hotels will spend more on technology in 2018, and mobile solutions in particular will top the list of capital investments. Many hotels are integrating mobile booking, mobile keys, mobile payments and mobile check-in into their operations. Other hotels are emphasizing the in-room experience, boosting bandwidth and upgrading flat screen TVs to more easily interface with guest mobile devices. And though not yet mainstream, there are many exciting technology developments on the near horizon. The Internet of Things (loT) is taking form in some places, and can be found in guest room control systems, voice activation systems, and in wearable sensors that can be used for access and payment options. Virtual reality headsets are available at some hotels so guests can enjoy virtual trips to exotic locations or if off-property, preview conference facilities and guest rooms. How long will it be before a hotel employs a fleet of robots for room service, or utilizes a hologram as a concierge, or installs gesture-controlled walls that feature interactive digital displays? Some hotels are already using augmented reality for translation services, or interactive wall maps, or even virtual décor. This pace of innovation is challenging property owners and brands to stay on top of the latest technology trends while still addressing current projects. The January Hotel Business Review will explore what some hotels are doing to maximize their opportunities in the mobile technology space.