A Look at the Next Generation of Urban Hotels

By Amanda Hertzler Executive Managing Director & Director of Design, MKDA | October 29, 2017

American travelers over the years have become accustomed to a handful of hotel brands and their tried-and-true amenities-room service, fine dining and business centers-but the next generation of urban hotels, particularly those in emerging neighborhoods, are turning convention on its head.

In fact, we are bearing witness to one of the most substantial transformations of the hotel industry since the 1970s, which saw the proliferation of business-centered hotels and hotel brands that began to offer more spacious rooms, more refined cuisine, and more modern amenities in response to customers' wishes.

With the Millennial generation now a significant portion of the traveling and working public, however, the modern customer profile has changed. Millennials want less, and with their mobile technology, need less. As such, hotels are limiting amenities and connecting to high-amenity neighborhoods to offer unique hotel products and genuine local experiences.

The proliferation of Airbnb-an online marketplace that enables travelers to lease or rent short-term lodging-is behind much of the ongoing transformation. Travelers are turning to Airbnb, where they can find unique local travel experiences, rather than corporate hotel brands, which tend to isolate themselves from local culture.

As a result, more and more urban hotels are taking cues from their surroundings. In cities like New York in the North and Louisville in the South-with their deep, rich economic histories and industrial enclaves-there are numerous adaptive reuse hotels that have drawn inspiration from their historic buildings' early lives as warehouses and factories.

In the process, architects are putting the spotlight on industrial detailing like soaring ceilings, large windows, distressed hardwood floors, metal beams and the like, and complementing them with modern elements such as mosaic tile floors, leather, copper accents, and local art. Unique details are added that reflect the buildings' former uses, creating genuine visual and experiential opportunities. The results are beautiful, earthy, experiential, memorable and relevant.

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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.