Think Local, Go National

How to Give Travelers What They Want: Authenticity

By Pat McBride Founder and Chief Executive Officer, The McBride Company | October 30, 2016

The mission of hotels has evolved over the years, from simply providing guests with a comfortable, safe place to sleep to offering a destination that provides much more than shelter. At today’s hotels and resorts, visitors have a place to conduct business, enjoy good food and drink, socialize and escape from life’s everyday pressures. But travelers often seek something more now, and a new trend has distinctly emerged. Many visitors no longer want to escape. They want to explore and dive into the local atmosphere. Today’s travelers desire to experience the culture, attractions, food and neighborhoods of a destination more than ever before.

For instance, if you’re a Chicagoan traveling to San Diego, you truly want to experience the Southern California lifestyle. If, however, you’re a Chicagoan with an obligation-free weekend at home, then you’re likely to seek some of the best experiences your city has to offer – deep dish pizza, Chicago-style hot dogs or maybe a little live blues music at one of the city’s great bars. In other words, the out-of-town traveler and the local are in pursuit of just about the same thing – an authentic local experience.

Can a hotel really deliver the local experience? The answer is yes. We have seen the rise of a new breed of boutique hotels that have attempted to capture the local vibe. Some have had success, and others have fallen short. To capitalize on the more adventurous nature of travelers today, the hotel developer needs to strive for a deeper understanding of the homegrown scene and what travelers want out of their visit.

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Photo: Eileen Escarda

Producing a Heightened Experience

It can be helpful to imagine you’re producing a movie when designing a hotel. A great movie has the ability to transport an audience from the theater into the film. Hoteliers need to think of hotel properties in the same light if the goal is to create environments where travelers feel immediately immersed in the fabric of their “temporary hometown.” In this film, the hotel developer is the producer and the designer is the director. Both are responsible for pulling together important elements to deliver a heightened local experience for guests – the stars of the film.

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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.