'No Frills Chic' vs. 'Extra Chic', Design vs. Affordability: New Trends in the Hospitality Industry

By Sara Fedele Marketing Communications Manager , USI Università Della Svizzera Italiana | August 14, 2011

Differing from the "ever green" luxury sector, a new trend is increasingly emerging: this is the era of "no-frills chic", meaning low cost goods and services that add design, third-party high quality elements and/or exceptional customer service to create quality experiences at bottom prices. In true IKEA style the "cheap but chic" is becoming quite a popular trend, as it provides "excellence" in a convenient and cost-effective package.

This article aims at analyzing some of the current and emerging trends in the hospitality business, as well as describing how certain important tourism companies in the world are currently managing these trends.

Before buying a product, the tendency now is to look around, analyze the alternatives, compare prices, and finally perhaps buy the new generation mobile phone at the most convenient price. Increasingly, we prefer to avoid long, expensive and time-consuming phone calls, replacing them with short and cost-effective text messages, with online calls or even with everywhere accessible emails. Cheap and effective.

In the tourism market this trend is comparable to the formula of the "last minute", recently outclassed by the "last second", conceived for those who prefer to avoid the "plan-search-book" phases of the holidays travellers are just supposed to:

  1. prepare the luggage
  2. wait for the travel agent to communicate destination and departure time.
    This way the vacation is easy and cost-effective.

In the "easy", "cheap" and "chic" philosophy, the easyGroup places itself perfectly. The brand includes a conglomerate of tourism industries and businesses licensed under the various 'Easy'-brand ventures, including the popular low-cost airline easyJet. Many of these companies follow the "easy" setup of taking away the frills, and of delivering a product which is cheaper overall, but attractive and "chic" at the same time.
The popular Greek company easyCruise, for example, offers essential, but trendy and colorful cabins at low prices, thanks to an innovative travel system where the ship is considered a simple means of transportation. Travellers board in any port and the price of the cruise is determined by the duration of the stay on board. This same philosophy appeared in England easyHotels but also easyCinema or easyCar.

Customization, sophistication, elegance, technology, usability, emotion, minimalist design (often the work of young designers), all delivered at attractive prices, that justify even the small spaces.

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Sales & Marketing: Selling Experiences

There are innumerable strategies that Hotel Sales and Marketing Directors employ to find, engage and entice guests to their property, and those strategies are constantly evolving. A breakthrough technology, pioneering platform, or even a simple algorithm update can cause new trends to emerge and upend the best laid plans. Sales and marketing departments must remain agile so they can adapt to the ever changing digital landscape. As an example, the popularity of virtual reality is on the rise, as 360 interactive technologies become more mainstream. Chatbots and artificial intelligence are also poised to become the next big things, as they take guest personalization to a whole new level. But one sales and marketing trend that is currently resulting in major benefits for hotels is experiential marketing - the effort to deliver an experience to potential guests. Mainly this is accomplished through the creative use of video and images, and by utilizing what has become known as User Generated Content. By sharing actual personal content (videos and pictures) from satisfied guests who have experienced the delights of a property, prospective guests can more easily imagine themselves having the same experience. Similarly, Hotel Generated Content is equally important. Hotels are more than beds and effective video presentations can tell a compelling story - a story about what makes the hotel appealing and unique. A video walk-through of rooms is essential, as are video tours in different areas of a hotel. The goal is to highlight what makes the property exceptional, but also to show real people having real fun - an experience that prospective guests can have too. The June Hotel Business Review will report on some of these issues and strategies, and examine how some sales and marketing professionals are integrating them into their operations.