Hotels That Don't Miss a Beat

By Simon Hudson Endowed Chair in Tourism and Hospitality, University of South Carolina | January 24, 2016

Interest in boutique hotels continues to rise. Hotel guests are increasingly seeking a unique experience as opposed to a commoditized product, and are more sensitive to design, levels of service and quality of food. Even corporate travelers are starting to favor such establishments over the standard hotel experience. Boutique hotels (generally considered to have less than 100 rooms) are better placed to react to these demands as their limited capacity enables them to enhance the quality of service and customize the visit for guests. Such hotels are constantly searching for the perfect formula to provide visitors with an addictive experience, and music-themed hotels have become very popular, particularly in big cities.

A perfect example is the Aria Hotel in Prague, Czech Republic, a city known for its musical history. The five-star luxury property hosts regular live concerts, and even has an on-site musicologist who will advise on which Rudolfinim seats have the finest acoustics and who’s the hottest Prague Philharmonic conductor. Musical virtuosos and their fans can immerse themselves in music with the very first step they take on the property. From the Italian mosaic formed from a Gregorian chant, to the surround-sound features in each room, every detail of the hotel is inspired by music.

alt text

Further west in Europe, the Backstage Hotel in Amsterdam is similarly decorated with a music theme, designed to resemble an off-stage hangout for rock bands. The hotel is decked out with saxophones and guitars and the bar's piano is graffitied with the signatures of performers who have visited. Over the border, the Nhow Hotel in Berlin, Germany goes one step further by providing services and facilities for musicians. Situated on the banks of the Spree, Nhow not only has its own recording studio with panoramic views of the city, it also offers a music-themed room service, whereby guitars and keyboards can be delivered to guests at any time. The recording studio features two control rooms plus a recording booth equipped with the latest audio equipment. Sessions start at 150 euros for a half-day studio session. The property also hosts a monthly open mike night.

Mexico is home to another hotel with a recording studio, the Hotel El Ganzo in Los Cabos, a trendy designer property that doubles up as an arts and culture center. Beneath a trapdoor in the lobby lounge lies ‘The Underground’, a 1, 700-square-foot, state-of-the-art recording studio where musicians from around the world come to create, perform and record their work. Guests and locals can attend El Ganzo Sessions, a free ongoing series of live music performances, and anyone can view the entire catalog of performances on the Hotel El Ganzo YouTube channel. Each month the hotel hosts various visual artists, filmmakers, and musicians as part of its Artist In Residence (AIR) program. The boutique hotel’s white walls double as a blank canvas, beckoning artists-in-residence to leave their colorful mark.

alt text

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.