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 May 2018...

Eco-Friendly Practices: The Greening of Your Bottom Line

There are strong moral and ethical reasons why a hotel should incorporate eco-friendly practices into their business but it is also becoming abundantly clear that “going green” can dramatically improve a hotel's bottom line. When energy-saving measures are introduced - fluorescent bulbs, ceiling fans, linen cards, lights out cards, motion sensors for all public spaces, and energy management systems - energy bills are substantially reduced. When water-saving equipment is introduced - low-flow showerheads, low-flow toilets, waterless urinals, and serving water only on request in restaurants - water bills are also considerably reduced. Waste hauling is another major expense which can be lowered through recycling efforts and by avoiding wastefully-packaged products. Vendors can be asked to deliver products in minimal wrapping, and to deliver products one day, and pick up the packaging materials the next day - generating substantial savings. In addition, renewable sources of energy (solar, geothermal, wind, etc.) have substantially improved the economics of using alternative energies at the property level. There are other compelling reasons to initiate sustainability practices in their operation. Being green means guests and staff are healthier, which can lead to an increase in staff retention, as well as increased business from health conscious guests. Also, sooner or later, all properties will be sold, and green hotels will command a higher price due to its energy efficiencies. Finally, some hotels qualify for tax credits, subsidies and rebates from local, regional and federal governments for the eco-friendly investments they've made in their hotels. The May issue of the Hotel Business Review will document how some hotels are integrating sustainable practices into their operations and how their hotels are benefiting from them.