A global pandemic, an industry in turmoil and a changing consumer?
What does this mean for the hotel world and their offering.
The world has changed in a matter of months, the hospitality industry shut down, Hilton cut a quarter of its corporate workforce, and consumers’ perspectives and attitudes drastically changed.
As we ease back into, dare I say it, “new norm” are we already longing for that simpler time, when we actually spoke to the neighbours, clapped for our true heroes, had time to bake our own bread, and the chance to read that book that had been sitting on the shelf collecting dust for…months? When will we have the opportunity to feel rested again, connect more deeply with a familiar face, contribute to the spirit of the community, learn something new and also feel a sense of achievement?
This is where the connoisseurs of relaxation, of pleasure, and of entertainment step in. Our hoteliers, our restaurateurs, our concierge teams, our chefs, our sommeliers, our wellness therapists…
Let’s take consumers’ new desires, understand what is happening culturally and make hospitality prosperous and relevant in 2020. Let’s transform, update and reconstruct these teams and add in new specialists. Let’s change the way we use spaces and make our guests’ lasting memories something of substance.
Firstly we need to understand our new guest, a new psychographic that was not born out of the pandemic but has been accelerated due to it. Guests who are guided by the idea of being purposeful, proactive and above all foster a sense of personal progress.The idea of merely sitting next to a pool for 7 days is no longer appealing, these guests want to provide a purposeful act, contribute and feel ingrained in the local community. The “home away from home” and the “authentic experiences” no longer cut it. They play a part but “home” needs to mean more, founders of co-working space Foster & sons Stijn Geeraets and Maarten Van Gool describe it perfectly as “building habitats that feel familiar, spaces that feel natural and intrinsic, with imperfections just like humans.” Whilst, “Experiences” mean interacting with social and civic brands that reflect their own mindsets, it doesn’t mean an ostentatious show of wealth and abundance. Our audience have a can do spirit and we need to take advantage of this and nurture it appropriately.
Secondly why are guests coming to hotels? They are no longer spaces for just leisure, places you’d never attend in your own city, but places to work, places to stay and visit for long periods of time, growing from days, to weeks to months. Working from home means working from anywhere, and hotels should use their spaces to not only facilitate work but to augment it. Curating spaces for meaningful interactions, for education, for inspiration. Attracting locals as well as foreigners, pulling in local influences and driving new ideas through collaborations which were previously unimaginable. Spaces that push boundaries.
And lastly what are some of the changes that hotels need to make to expedite this. They start to become elegantly understated places, which blend old and new, considered furnishings and pieces gathered over time, with larger elements that provide awe and wonder. They are places where we consume mindfully, where sustainability is a prerequisite not a marketing ploy, where relationships with supply chains are sought, embraced and supported. Places where wellness is embraced not through yoga rooms and 30 minute spin classes, but through mindfulness, through embracing nature, through time for reflection. Allowing opportunities for our minds to stop moving from thought to thought but come into a state of stillness; to rest; to digest and start to feel inner fulfillment from something not conditional on outside circumstances.
In conclusion, hospitality is all about personal feel. In order to create meaningful connections you need to truly understand what people want, discover their passions and deliver it in an intimate way. Our old agendas of self protection and promotion have evolved to something more generous and open hearted. We need to create spaces that merit this change and ones that craft meaning. Let’s embrace it and revolutionise the hospitality industry.