By: Henry Harmon
Tourism has been a constant in our growing world economy but its dynamics have changed and continue to change. What can be perceived as the most vital part of the experience in which you enjoy while visiting, is the hospitality. Hotels are becoming more about immersion into the culture and the natural setting of the destination.
“The experience” has become the nexus in the hospitality business – driving all other components. It is not only about how comfortable your bed is or how lavish your bathroom is, these are amenities, important albeit, but what brings the customer back and makes them tell their friends about their trip. What elicits this response are the experiences they encounter. Without them, there is no story to tell. These experiences have been called “curated experiences” because of their ability to adapt to a location and bring in the culture from its surroundings. Examples ranging from pasta classes in southern Italy to cross country skiing out to a cabin in Aspen. The customer wants to be engulfed by the location in which they have chosen to explore.
The time to invest in curated experiences is now. Hotels have been transforming from a mere destination location into an immersion into a culture. What this means for the traveler, is that they want to be encapsulated by activities and events specific to their destination. The amenities that come with the hotel location are what people are paying for because of the yearning to want to do something new, different or even something they would normally never do.
According to the United Nations World Tourism Organization , the growth of tourism is expected to jump to 57 percent of the global markets by 2030, an increase from 47 percent in 2010. What this means for destination hotels, is that they must develop their experiential tours and activities in order to retain their clientele. This can be most easily done by making experiences more personal, from coordinating transportation for guests to actively communicating activities that could be of interest.
Hotels should be designed to embrace the location and give their guests the ultimate adventure in experiential treatment. Resorts are no longer just destinations for people to unwind, they want to continue to stay in shape or even try new things. This is not limited to your typical active locations such as surfing in Hawaii or skiing in Colorado. Each destination has a natural beauty to it, it is about finding that hidden talent and embracing it. Hoteliers have found themselves changing the dynamics of hotels to properly charm their guests.
The importance of distinction among not only location but brand as well. Where we have began to see this shift is from large brand hotels creating sub-brands to try and draw a certain type of clientele while maintaining a large overall brand. The Starwood-Marriott merger did exactly this for Marriott. Marriott has been pushing for a higher quality sub-brands and with the ownership of Starwood came the end clientele along with it. With 30 brands, Marriott is diversifying themselves while simultaneously retaining those clients through rewards programs and availability of so many different locations. What this has done for them is create tiers of travel to anticipate all different levels of travel.
With the growth of the hospitality industry has come further investment into the industry. However, what will prove to be a worthy investment will be to invest in experiences that are created by brands that work hand in hand with their customers to provide the best possible experience that they can.