When an Urban Resort is the Concierge

By Michael Tall President & Chief Operating Officer, Charlestowne Hotels | November 19, 2017

Today’s travelers are drawn to urban resorts not only for their centralized locations, but for the feeling of connectedness within the larger destination they provide. When travelers walk through the door of the urban resort, they are stepping into an extension of the city.

Many different generations, from millennials to baby boomers, are seeking out urban resorts. Travelers perceive urban resorts as special, unique, interesting—and people of any generation with the mindset for authentic travel will flock to these hotels.

In order for the concept to work, the hotel has to provide certain amenities that distinguish it as an urban resort. It’s not enough to simply call a property an urban resort if the service, offerings, and amenities don’t match up to the claim. The question is: Does your urban resort have the aspects that will appeal to today’s guests?

It Starts with the Team

While some players in the industry may think the urban resort concept starts with physical attributes such as décor, it’s the people who truly make the experience. The hotel’s team needs to be connected to what’s happening around the city in order to help facilitate a sincere bond between the guest and the destination. From the moment a guest steps on property to the point of departure, every staff member who interacts with a guest must make themselves available as a concierge, offering key insights and knowledge to empower the guest to craft a curated local experience.

Experiences, therefore, are central to the urban resort process for both employees and guests; without experiences, the concept remains an abstraction. By engaging employees with the ethos of their hotel’s brand, they become inspired by its purpose and understand their role in delivering a guest experience that enables them to be in touch with, and be fascinated by, the richness of the culture that surrounds them.

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Social Media: Engagement is Key

There are currently 2.3 billion active users of social media networks and savvy hotel operators have incorporated social media into their marketing mix. There are a few Goliath channels on which one must have a presence (Facebook & Twitter) but there are also several newer upstart channels (Instagram, Snapchat &WeChat, for example) that merit consideration. With its 1.86 billion users, Facebook is a dominant platform where operators can drive brand awareness, facilitate bookings, offer incentives and collect sought-after reviews. Twitter's 284 million users generate 500 million tweets per day, and operators can use its platform for lead generation, building loyalty, and guest interaction. Instagram was originally a small photo-sharing site but it has blown up into a massive photo and video channel. The site can be used to post photos of the hotel property, as well as creating Instagram Stories - personal videos that disappear from the channel after 24 hours. In this regard, Instagram and Snapchat are now in direct competition. WeChat is a Chinese company whose aim is to be the App for Everything - instant messaging, social media, shopping and payment services - all in a single platform. In addition to these channels, blogging continues to be a popular method to establish leadership, enhance reputations, and engage with customers in a direct and personal way. The key to effective use of all social media is to find out where your customers are and then, to the fullest extent possible, engage with them on a personal level. This engagement is what creates a personal connection and sustains brand loyalty. The February Hotel Business Review will explore these issues and examine how some hotels are successfully integrating social media into their operations.