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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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.