A buzzword that has been taking over the retail sector is connected to the hospitality industry in more ways than you think. Branded Environments tell a story about your brand and spark emotional connection with consumers. In a time of constant connectivity and the endless quest for unique experiences, it is crucial for hotels to leverage their establishments through branded environments.
In a Deloitte Consulting study titled “The Hotel of the Future”, the current general business model of hotels and the challenges they are beginning, and will continue, to face in the hospitality market are discussed. Needing to evolve from just a space to lay your head at night when traveling for a business trip or mini vacation, traditional hotel brands are getting hit with rapidly shifting customer preferences and significant market comparisons to Airbnb and co-living spaces.
Generating over 31 billion dollars by May 2017, Airbnb prides itself on convenience and authenticity in the hospitality space, and although its financials are extremely healthy, the company noticed how it was missing the opportunity to facilitate human connection for travelers. In November 2016 it launched Airbnb Experiences, and bookings have grown 2,500 percent year over year since then. Most guests want more out of their stay than just a room that is close to the airport or near the local bar. They crave environments that boost productivity and offer the ability to explore new experiences. This is where hotel brands need to hone in, whether it be through integrating partnerships, generating a community with local businesses, or creating variable spaces. A new approach is needed that centers guests and their experiences.
Integrating external partnerships and incorporating variable spaces will provide hotels with a fresh approach to new experiences and will assist in supporting the mindset guests want to be in. An example of this could be as simple as diversifying the standard “hotel room” and “hotel lobby”. Blending different designs, pop-ups, and experimental products, hotels can re-energize their environments by partnering with lifestyle brands to create new spaces. Pop-ups provide unique and exclusive experiences that are offered in limited supply to create demand and continually test ideas. With experimental products, hotels can monetize a newly designed space by allowing guests to purchase products as they are experiencing them.
When examining the opportunity to generate a community with local businesses, hotels need to understand that “people are traveling because they want to see and experience the community they are visiting.” They want to feel like the hotel they are staying at is part of the “popular” group and a place where people want to hang out. Hotels will need to appeal and actively engage with locals first, in order to invoke the neighborhood vibe they are looking to create. This can be done by hosting events or workshops at the hotel, offering public spaces to locals (ie. a community garden), and collaborating on mini pop-ups (i.e local farmer’s market or small boutique jewelry shop).
The challenge today remains — hotels need to balance the initial attraction guests have to their hotel (consistency and predictability) with the new expectations of unique experiences and personal connections.