The Redevelopment of Landmark Buildings as New Hotels

By Dirk Lohan Principal, Wight & Company | November 04, 2018

Anyone who travels frequently becomes more and more discerning and selective about their hotel choices. You get tired of the long corridors with identical rooms on both sides. The only identifying element of your room is the number on the door, everything else is the same and not very memorable. Once in a while you stay at a unique and special hotel and you remember it because it was different in architecture and design.

As I continue to travel regularly around the world, I have noticed a trend in newer hotel developments that reuses historical buildings which in their original life were not built as hotels. The design of hotels is especially suited to fit into older buildings which have lost their original purpose as the various functions of hotels are quite flexible and don't need to be the same all the time. What distinguishes them from other new developments is that they are notable landmarks in their city or country. They can be of any architectural age and style, but modern society does not want them to be torn down to make way for new buildings.

In the United States, the Landmark movement has grown in recent decades to the point where almost everybody recognizes the importance of preserving the iconic buildings of prior periods. Every city and state today have landmarks organizations who identify and protect the buildings that are worthy of preservation. And, would you believe it, quite often it is the hotel function which is adaptable and flexible enough to come into an older building whose original purpose is no longer needed in our times. So it is, that we have hotels in buildings that were created as banks, embassies, palaces for nobility, railroad stations and even office buildings of the modern period.

What distinguishes these hotels from others is that they are unique and not standard and often their interior design is created to accentuate and emphasize the architectural style of the original. Let me describe a few of these hotels and why they are special and appreciated by the discerning guest.

Hotel De Rome, Berlin, Germany

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Social Media: Getting Personal

There Social media platforms have revolutionized the hotel industry. Popular sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube and Tumblr now account for 2.3 billion active users, and this phenomenon has forever transformed how businesses interact with consumers. Given that social media allows for two-way communication between businesses and consumers, the emphasis of any marketing strategy must be to positively and personally engage the customer, and there are innumerable ways to accomplish that goal. One popular strategy is to encourage hotel guests to create their own personal content - typically videos and photos -which can be shared via their personal social media networks, reaching a sizeable audience. In addition, geo-locational tags and brand hashtags can be embedded in such posts which allow them to be found via metadata searches, substantially enlarging their scope. Influencer marketing is another prevalent social media strategy. Some hotels are paying popular social media stars and bloggers to endorse their brand on social media platforms. These kinds of endorsements generally elicit a strong response because the influencers are perceived as being trustworthy by their followers, and because an influencer's followers are likely to share similar psychographic and demographic traits. Travel review sites have also become vitally important in reputation management. Travelers consistently use social media to express pleasure or frustration about their guest experiences, so it is essential that every review be attended to personally. Assuming the responsibility to address and correct customer service concerns quickly is a way to mitigate complaints and to build brand loyalty. Plus, whether reviews are favorable or unfavorable, they are a vital source of information to managers about a hotel's operational performance.  The February Hotel Business Review will document what some hotels are doing to effectively incorporate social media strategies into their businesses.