Hotels That Don't Miss a Beat

By Simon Hudson Endowed Chair in Tourism & 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.

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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.

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Coming up in June 2019...

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.