Here are a few tips for creating experiences for guests, including forming partnerships to increase amenity offerings and localizing food and entertainment.
Hotels are no longer just a place for guests to lay their heads. Travelers want a convenient, all-encompassing experience that may include dining, shopping, fitness, wellness and entertainment.
As Airbnb and shared accommodations continue to create buzz, boutique hotels are uniquely positioned to create the one-stop-shop packages that modern guests crave. Travelers who make the decision to stay in a private accommodation are a minority but a segment to pay close attention to. More than 40% of travelers—61% of which are millennials—made the decision to stay at a private accommodation over a hotel in the last six months.
Hoteliers must establish a differentiated and defensible position along the traveler journey as private accommodations gain traction for both business and leisure travelers. This can be achieved by creating a resort-like experience that continues to draw in all types of travelers.
Play up location
Several factors influence why guests choose private accommodations over traditional hotels. Aside from price, individuals often find the location of private accommodations more appealing, as they are close to hot local attractions and restaurants.
To combat this and maintain market position, hotels should be strategically placed in locations that offer options for guests to explore the destination. Take advantage of surrounding business offerings that complement the quality of your hotel and will enhance your guests’ stay.
Curate a one-of-a-kind experience
Travelers are trying to avoid the stigma of being a tourist and instead seek out ways to fit in with the places they choose to visit and “live like a local.” The immersive, embedded aspect of private accommodations is a powerful lure, even for guests who prioritize price in purchase decisions. Boutique hotels can deliver this, too, with experiences rich in local customs, cuisine, people and events.
To fit this need, your hotel must provide a convenient way for guests to explore, while putting your property front of mind. Whether it is a one-night stay or a multiple-night booking, guests should experience what a destination has to offer. Forget about one-size-fits-all offerings and instead develop complementary guest experiences with local flavor.
How to implement
As mentioned above, guests want an authentic experience. There are various ways to implement the unconventional and localized resort feel, including creating partnerships with area restaurants, gyms (which could include pool access), golf clubs and spas. More options can expand your target audience and attract different types of travelers, whether they are seeking adventure, relaxation or luxury.
For guests who are wellness enthusiasts, work on providing “member-for-a-stay” programs at neighboring fitness facilities, day spas or yoga studios. Negotiate a flat monthly rate, or a rate based on guest use, so it is a win-win for both businesses.
To encourage guests to explore restaurants, lounges and shops, you can create custom-branded gift cards that are accepted anywhere credit cards are accepted and brand the experience as an extension of your hotel’s experience. This can be marketed as an add-on to an overnight stay, perhaps at a discounted rate.
Additionally, twists on local cuisine or live music will vary from destination to destination. Explore local talent and put the best of the best in front of your guests. Restaurants with unique menu offerings or craft cocktails can set your destination apart. You should avoid partnering with chain restaurants or cover bands, as that may be heard anywhere; instead, be sure there is a mix of original music.
Whether it is business or leisure, guests want to seize the opportunity to try something different. The hotel should provide the comforts of home, but allow them to have a new experience that they cannot get in their everyday lives that is highly competitive against private accommodations or traditional chain hotels.
Jonathan Webster is the Vice President of Lodging for Geronimo Hospitality Group. Headquartered in Beloit, Wisconsin, Geronimo Hospitality Group owns and operates a growing collection of award-winning, upscale boutique hotels, restaurants and clubs, including Bottleworks District and Bottleworks Hotel opening up in late 2020 in Indianapolis. Committed to providing memorable guest experiences through its genuine service and original brands, Geronimo properties are distinguished as destinations of choice for locals and travelers in the cities they operate. For more information, visit: www.geronimohospitalitygroup.com.
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