According to Google, 2016 has been the year of the ‘on your own’ holiday. Holidays where consumers book and travel independently, staying in other’s homes and becoming a local. And this has dealt hotels a blow. A blow which, if I’m honest, has been a long time coming. In my opinion the hotel industry has become stagnant, resisting change and ignoring consumer and booking trends. These issues have finally risen to the surface and perhaps 2017 might be the year in which the hotel industry can build new, strong foundations for the future.
Much of the blame has been placed on the sharing economy, but it is still true that hotels draw customers who wouldn’t consider the likes of Airbnb - customers who like to feel pampered and special, customers who want to be looked after, not given the space to look after themselves.
It is this that will continue to draw guests. Hotels need to play on what it is that makes them a hotel in the first place. Okay sure, there will be hotels that are able to become a hybrid of a home and a traditional hotel setup. But these will be niche and an area that I personally think will be hard to crack when the sharing model is already working well.
What it all comes down to is personalisation. Some people may want a little bit of ’do it yourself’ during their stay and some people may not. It is not possible to be all things to all people, but there is the ability to think creatively with offerings so that guests can create the holiday that they are looking for, whether that be to escape the outside world entirely or get totally immersed in the local community.
Feeling at home is vital. You don’t want to go and stay in a hotel where you feel like you can’t truly relax. And when you step outside the front door, you don’t want to feel lost and alone (fine, some people might like that but again, remember my personalisation point).
Concierges were introduced specifically for this reason – to enable guests to get the most of their stay in a town or city. So what we are really talking about when we consider the future of hotels is a revolution of the concierge: bringing those values into the overall experience, enabling guests to truly connect with where they are in new and exciting ways. And in which they can choose to take part (or not). Hotels that realise these connections and adapt accordingly will be the ones that continue to thrive,
In other words, the hotel of the future is about people, first and foremost. The hotel of the future has to think outside the traditional four walls and into the overall experience.