Hotels Bring Unique Brand Experiences to New Travelers

By Keith Simmel Principal, Cooper Carry | June 01, 2014

Co-authored by Robert F. Uhrin, AIA, Principal, Cooper Carry

They’re in their 20s, traveling for business and they’re not choosing a hotel based on loyalty points. The hotel industry is banking on this new group of travelers to boost its economic growth well into the future. Hotels are repackaging the brand experience to appeal to this new customer and they’re spending tremendous resources to get it right.

This new demographic is not a uniform, homogenous group and they don’t necessarily have loyalty to any brand. People years ago wanted to stay at a Marriott so they could build up their points, but that doesn’t drive this generation. They don’t fit into a box or stereotype. This is the young twenty-something coming into the business world and it’s becoming increasingly important to tailor brands to appeal to this new segment.

Almost every hotel brand is developing and transforming its flags to better respond to generational changes and elevate brand identification. Once those brands identify the needs of this new, young traveler, we at Cooper Carry must figure out how to bring that brand vision to life at a hotel site.

We recently completed an Embassy Suites Springfield in Virginia, which is a project that caters to the younger generation’s preference for variety by providing multiple public space options for travelers. The project totals 189, 650 square feet of hotel space, including a full restaurant with expo-kitchen concept and bar, an indoor pool, and fitness center. There are shared facilities for teams to meet as well as opportunities for solo travelers to connect and work outside their rooms. Approximately 5, 700 square feet of meeting space is spread amongst formal meeting salons, a boardroom and flexible meeting spaces. AC Hotels by Marriott is another player that’s being very aggressive about appealing to that segment with unique designs and experiences.

These travelers want experiences that are cool, hip and comfortable. The trend is to create larger public spaces that are more inviting even in the select-serve brands. Many new select-service hotels feature food and beverage components, which allow guests to check-in and provide them with the option to go downstairs and get a snack or meal.

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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.