Long gone are the days when travelers would head to a hotel and steal away with the coveted souvenir towel monogrammed with the hotel's moniker. Today's travelers seek sumptuousness in their stay while experiencing the local vibe of the surrounding area.
Factor in the connected age of high technology and mobile devices, there's a new need for customization in the hotel industry. That's come after standardization developed a bad connotation among the hotel industry and guests, especially for the new generation of travelers who value a unique travel experience.
The Rise Of Boutique Hotels
This revolutionary shift to un-standardization in the hotel industry is evidenced by the rise of boutique hotels. From 2010 to 2015, boutique hotels have had a growth rate of 5.6 percent. By 2020, these types of lodgings are projected to occupy 10 percent or more of the largest urban markets. Additionally, an increasing number of major chains, like Marriott International, are choosing to merge with boutique chains in order to better position themselves for the future.
The need for personalization in a hotel stems from the fundamental reason people travel: to experience something invigorating, unfamiliar and fascinating. Hence, the cookie-cutter in-room experience simply doesn't match the traveling lifestyle. People want a hotel that boasts a creative design, offers a new experience and is decidedly its own.
Create A Unique And Local Experience For Millennials
This new trend puts pressure on big hotel chains to mass produce entirely unique experiences. Capturing the millennial market, which will account for 50 percent of the travel sector by 2020, is extremely important. This was a driving factor in InterContinental Hotels Group's (IHG) acquisition of Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants.
Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants, a well-known brand in the lifestyle and boutique hotels industry, enhances IHG's stature as a hotel brand committed to individualization. Kimpton has personalized its hotel brand with touches reminiscent of the small old-world European hotels with tailorings for the millennial generation. One initiative is "Kimpton Wine Hour," where complimentary wine and craft beer is served to guests between 5 and 6 p.m. The Seattle Kimpton Hotel similarly made waves by embracing sustainability in partnering with local wineries for special guest events.
A mix of flexibility and exceptional customer service is paramount to ensuring boutique hotels continue to have success. In an effort to better appeal to tech-savvy travelers, companies like Hilton have begun to implement digital room selection with personalization, along with the ability to check-in and check-out remotely. Not only does this make booking, entering and leaving seamless, it also allows hoteliers to choose the room that best meets their needs -- something 84 percent of all travelers value highly.
Hilton has innovated on the idea of extra accommodating service with their new Canopy by Hilton chain. They offer "swag bags" for guests from local businesses, in addition to the ability to pick a "foodie bag" for guests' minibar from a check-in app, which often contains decadent chocolates.
Meanwhile, Moxy Hotels, a Marriott brainchild, provides comfortable "living room" guest lounges with Wi-Fi, a jumbo screen Instagram-fed digital guest book and a 24/7 self-serve cafe.
If individual boutique hotels are to truly stand out, they must celebrate their location's culture; the Hyatt in Times Square should be different from Hyatt near Manhattan's Grand Central Station. Localization defines a unique hotel stay for today's traveler. Kimpton Hotels, for example, embraces neighborhood culture so greatly, that their restaurants become destinations even for nearby residents.
With the continued rise of person-to-person accommodation, standardization will soon become a thing of the past. Flexibility, customer service, customization and a focus on providing a fresh and new experience, will become paramount to the new hotel experience.
Quiz: Is Your Hotel Using Too Much Standardization
1. Will the guest know what city he or she is in just by looking at the lobby, room or some other part of the hotel?
2. Are the amenities similar to a partner hotel in a different city?
3. Is the hotel decorated with locally-inspired paintings and photographs?
4. Is the food locally sourced and/or representative of area cuisine?
5. What are five unique aspects of the hotel?
Daylighted is a San Francisco-based fine art consultancy serving the hospitality industry. The company offers a new way to customize high-end properties with digital exhibitions of contemporary art by emerging and mid-career artists, displayed on-demand.
Our mission is to bring a fresh, energized and unique art to our partners'venue and inject new life into the standard model of how, when and where people interact with art.