From Around the Web: New Age Amenities in Hotels

Vitamin C infused showers reportedly neutralize chlorine and leave guests with healther skin, hair and nails. Photo from: Forbes.com
Vitamin C infused showers reportedly neutralize chlorine and leave guests with healther skin, hair and nails. Photo from: Forbes.com

While some guests are choosing to find ways to get out and about when they’re traveling, some hotel guests still like the ability to create a haven – a home away from home – while they’re on the road.

Whether they’re a corporate business traveler who seeks sanctuary from the road warrior life, or an executive just needing a break away from a long day of meetings, some hotel guests choose to use their hotel room as a get-away.

Hotels are responding to this trend in a few unique ways.

“Wellness amenities at luxury hotels are highly demanded but they usually come at a premium price,” shares Keith Flamer in Forbes. Now guests at more moderately priced hotels can enjoy programs like “Stay Well®, a less expensive wellness program featuring in-room sensations that revitalize the body, revive the mind and energize the spirit.”

Some of the program offerings include:

  • Vitamin C-infused showers to neutralize chlorine,
  • circadian rhythm lighting (red-spectrum light in the living quarters to aid sleep and melatonin-boosting blue-spectrum light in the bathroom to assist waking),
  • hypoallergenic beds, and comfy, non-toxic natural foam mattresses

… all designed to relax and rejuvenate weary leisure and business travelers. “We have adopted an underlying philosophy that the most important health decisions are not made in a doctor’s office; rather, there are dozens of decisions individuals make daily while at work, at home, in a restaurant or in retail environments that are the most impactful drivers of quality of life or health and wellness,” says Jim Zboril, president of Tavistock Development Company.

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Hotel Trend: The Ever Shrinking Hotel Room Size

 

Hotel rooms are undergoing a “resizing:” literally. And in doing so, are rethinking the configuration and expectations that go with the hotel room as well.

Tommie is a creative micro-hotel offering rooms 160-200 square feet but creative communal activities for guests. Photo credit: New York Times.com
Tommie is a creative micro-hotel offering rooms 160-200 square feet but creative communal activities for guests. Photo credit: New York Times.com

 

Down from the 1990s when a hotel room was over 350 square feet, today’s average hotel room is about 330 square feet.  But some hotel brands are shrinking that size even more.

As O’Rouke Hospitality reports, “Marriot’s Moxy Hotels are now building rooms about 183 square feet in size and the new brand Yotel’s rooms are only 170 square feet on average.”  Best Western’s Vib and Glo properties are in the 200 and 250 square feet range.

There are plenty of reasons for the shift:  as Bjorn Hanson of New York University’s Preston Robert Tisch Center for Hospitality and Tourism has said in the past, smaller rooms are cheaper to both build, furnish and maintain.  And given Millennial prevailing attitudes, some brands feel they are giving their target audience “everything they want and nothing they don’t need” complementing the small rooms with grand, open common areas where guests can mingle, work and play.

 

Moxy room rendering by Marriott Hotel Development Corp via CNBC.com
Moxy room rendering by Marriott Hotel Development Corp via CNBC.com

 

Brands employing the smaller room approach say that what the room lacks in sheer physical size, they make up for in all the things the guest really wants.  Think: sound-reducing walls, free Wi-Fi, floor-to-ceiling art pieces and top of the line showers.

Hotels are able to using space more efficiently through the best use of technology (such as using wall mounted flat screen TVs versus bulky tube TVs in entertainment cabinets), as well as adapting their floor plans to reflect the flexible, mobile life and work styles people have today.

By throwing out existing assumptions of hotel room design, they can change expectations and take advantage of guest pleasing opportunities, such as expansive windows to let in natural light, thus making a room feel bigger than it really is, and extending that philosophy by using glazed glass block to separate the bath area – instead of a typical “wall.”

As Tony Capuano, Marriott’s chief development officer, said in a Washington Post interview, “The old conventional hotel model was a customer checked in, went straight to their room and never came out.”  Marriott proposes changing that paradigm where the hotel still offers well designed rooms, but more vivacious, engaging public spaces that people will want to be part of. …Or as Marriott describes it, “a buzzing living space where things are always happening. Just like home….. but with a bartender! ;)”

This migration isn’t really new — it’s just now being seen in the hotel space.  The notion of people wandering down the street to get away from the house or work at Starbucks — the “third place” — an in between space that’s both homey and allows for work, casual meetings or creative conversation.

But it’s exciting to see this trend being incorporated into the hospitality industry. And it will be fascinating to see ongoing guest feedback about the evolution of these new room designs.

 

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Hotel Spotlight: The Four Seasons Lower Manhattan

We’re looking forward to seeing the Four Seasons Lower Manhattan opening scheduled for late summer. Its second Four Seasons location in Manhattan, the new hotel occupies the first 22 floors of one of New York’s largest residential buildings is in a prime spot of the revitalized Downtown area.

Photo by Four Seasons Downtown, Lower Manhattan
Photo by Four Seasons Downtown, Lower Manhattan

With classic Four Seasons luxury, guest rooms evoke elegance coupled with all the convenience of high-tech.  The suites, designed by the partnership of George Yabu and Glenn Pushelberg, are the epitome of urban retreat and Four Seasons style. Guest rooms have Smart TVs, Bose stereo systems, and generous closet space.

 

Photo by Four Seasons Downtown, Lower Manhattan
Photo by Four Seasons Downtown, Lower Manhattan

Of course, no article spotlight from us would be complete without a peek inside the bath. The bath suite includes a large tub, separate shower, and separate WC.  And for those of us who like to “unplug… but not too much,” Four Seasons has included vanity mirrors with a built-in TV.

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Hotel Spotlight: The Beekman

The Beekman is an architectural, historical and luxurious gem: or, as their parent company, Thompson Hotels,

describes the building, it’s  “a masterpiece rediscovered.”

Beekman Temple Atrium
As the forerunner to the modern office building, Beekman Temple Court building was the ideal location for lawyers working in the area in the late 1800s. Photo credit: scoutingny.com

 

And rediscovered it is.

 

Photo credit: thebeekman.com
Photo credit: thebeekman.com

Emblematic of a bygone era, this red brick, historical building is perhaps best known for its 9 story atrium.  Having once been the site of New York’s first theatre (Shakespeare’s Hamlet opened here in 1761), the location is home to a legendary past.

The 1881 building truly speaks of New York’s glorious history, trimmed in detail work, filigree and cast iron you simply don’t see anymore. And amidst this character and charm, The Beekman is also LEED certified  as a sustainable building.

As the site, concretethinker.com defines it, LEED is “Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) – a rating system devised by the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) to evaluate the environmental performance of a building and encourage market transformation towards sustainable design.”

A gorgeous, historic building with stunning craftsmanship and to-die-for detailing?

Be still our hearts.

In addition to its architecture and sustainable sensibility, the Beekman is home to a few other jewels.  Restuaranteur and Celebrity Chef Tom Colicchio brings his talents to The Beekman with his new restaurant, Fowler & Wells, to the hotel’s elegant and exquisitely detailed dining room.  With Colicchio’s passion for ingredients and world class techniques, the restaurant should turn the head of every culinary afficianado. Colicchio is also the mastermind behind the hotel’s in-room dining and catering.

Photo credit: thebeekman.com
Photo credit: thebeekman.com

But of course, we’re excited to see the detail and craftsmanship in the suites — particularly the baths. The “lived-in, luxurious glamor” feeling you’ll find in the Beekman is a hallmark of interior architect Martin Brudnizki.

Brudnizki capitalized on the suites’ superb assets — cathedral ceilings and aged wood floors — and maximized the glamour of a golden age, leaving his sophisticated touches in every detail of the guest experience.   Spacious Carrara marble-tiled baths. Rain showers. Curated artworks. Custom-designed beds with leather headboards. Sateen Sferra linens.

He also devised an extraordinary mix of vintage and bespoke furnishing touches that were painstakingly sourced from antique dealers throughout the world.

What results is an extraordinary bouquet of sensory experiences that no guest will ever forget.

 

 

 

Due to fire code issues, the breath-taking atrium was shuttered for nearly 70 years. Photo credit: untappedcities.com
Due to fire code issues, the breath-taking atrium was shuttered for nearly 70 years. Photo credit: untappedcities.com

 

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From Around the Web: Understanding Bad Reviews to Improve Your Hotel’s ROI

No one likes getting bad news.  Bad reviews can be challenging to read for even the most stoic of hotel professionals.  But they can also be the key to learning how to improve your hotel and — perhaps more importantly — figuring out where to invest your capital for improvements.

Thankfully, TrustYou has done a little of the legwork for us.  While their research doesn’t eliminate the need to read your own guest reviews, they have found some overall industry trends to keep in mind while reading them.

TrustYou analyzed more than 20 million reviews worldwide.  Reviews were categorized by topics within the review (ie: service, room size, etc) and then compared these categories, the number of times they were mentioned, and the difference in scores between negative and positive reviews.

The study showed that the following are the most important features of the hotel/guest stay:

  • Actual location,
  • Service, and
  • Quality of the room

In particular, Service seemed to be a key factor for some negative reviews — and vital to be address so that potential negative experiences can be saved and converted into positive guest experiences.

In terms of negative reviews:

  • Issues about bathrooms, such as their cleanliness and size, were imperative and given that negative reviews were 2.24 times more likely than positive ones to include some form of bathroom comment, suggests that this is one factor that really needs to be looked at in hotels.
hotel guest reviews research
Hotel baths are most likely to show up in negative hotel online reviews. But they are preventable! Photo by tnooz.com
  • Were twice as likely to mention issues with beds.

This points to key areas where hotels can be proactive, reduce the likelihood of negative reviews and manage the overall guest experience more.

First, a focus on housekeeping: ensuring that bath areas are sparkling clean and linens are in good repair.

When they aren’t, timely replacement becomes important.

 

For example, scouring and scrubbing can only go so far in bath maintenance. Even with the most careful attention, baths, showers and fixtures will lose their luster with thousands of guests visiting your hotel each year.  In this instance, a simple refinishing project may be all you need to restore the bath’s original shine.

Click here to read more about the study.

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Marriott Innovating the Hotel Experience

Given shifting demographics and changing technology expectations, hotels have been trying to find new ways reinvent the hotel experience.

Generational graphic
Generational breakdowns by year and size. Graphic from Pew Research.

While millennials, those born between 1980 – mid 90s, are perhaps the most visible or talked about reason for hotels exploring rebranding, they’re certainly not the only reason.

Generation Z, those born from approximately 1995 – 2010 (ages 6-21 in 2016), is an equally large, influential population.  They are often described as “true digital natives, more pragmatic, more cautious, more money-conscious, and more globally minded” than previous generations.  (If you’re curious, Alpha Generation comes next and consists of all those children born after 2010.)

Then let’s add the changing face of technology as well as consumer expectations: wide spread wireless high speed access, on-demand everything, and unique one-to-one experiences.

Oh – and let’s do it all on a budget.

“For [Generation Z], traveling becomes a marker of adulthood,” saysMelanie Shreffler, senior editorial director at Cassandra Report. “Seventy-seven percent of 14 to 18 year-olds say that traveling without supervision is a marker of adulthood—and 42 percent of those teens feel like they are adults. That’s a significant number.” And in addition, Generation Z still has significant influence over purchasing decisions made by their Gen X parents and/or Baby Boomer grand parents.

The Cassandra Report’s Generation Z study shows 84 percent of kids aged 7-17  influence their family’s overall spending. “When it comes to family vacations and travel, 32 percent of parents say their kids hold a lot of influence on vacations and spending, and 54 percent of parents say kids have some influence,” Shreffler said.

But just because the following concepts were initially intended for the Millennial or Emerging Generation Z market, don’t think that other generations won’t appreciate them. “Baby boomers and even the Silent generation give us very high scores for the new approach,” Mike Dearing, managing director of Marriott Hotels, shared with Fast Company .

Which brings us to the innovation and re-thinking hotels like Marriott are exploring.  Examples include:

Moxie Hotel Public Living Room
Check out the Moxy’s public “Living Room” space where guests can mix, mingle and congregate. Photo credit Marriott via Washington Post.

 

Cozy and Cool micro-hotels. Designed to appeal to millennials, Marriott’s “Moxy” hotels are sensible, sleek spaces  “defined by attitude rather than affordability.” Rooms will typically be smaller than the average hotel room (approximately 200 square feet), with glitzy common areas, … or as shared in the Washington Post, “open bars, all-night cafes and a buzzing living space where things are always happening.”

 

 

 

 

Marriott’s Innovation Lab Hotel in Charlotte, North Carolina. Throughout the property, guests will find “beta buttons” and “beta boards” where customers can give an immediate “thumbs up” or “thumbs down” to every part of the customer experience.  “The Charlotte hotel is really our innovation lab. This is where we’re testing our best thinking and new concepts. We’re staying in constant dialogue with our guests to figure out what works and what they connect with best,” Dearing said.

For example, through the Innovation Lab, Marriott found that guests preferred the homey feeling of rooms with hard wood floors rather than carpeting. That new finding has been incorporated in the last 20 Marriott renovation projects.

A Localized, Brand Experience.

Marriott found that while Boomers expected consistency of experience (ie: The Marriott burger you get in Denver is the same burger you get in Philadelphia), Millennials were looking for unique, culturally difference experiences based on where they were at. So Marriott has been cracking the code on how to evoke the “Marriott Brand Experience” with a localized twist: a Marriott guest stay that’s still unique to Omaha or Seattle or Miami.

One way Marriott is doing this is through amenities: the services and resources available in the hotel.  For example, a local chef may partner with the Marriott to include a new cafe or restaurant that reflects the local area’s unique cuisine or flair.  The Innovation Lab also found that Millennials sought out opportunities to meet people: like taking a gym class or mingling in the coffee bar area with cozy, comfy chairs and seating areas designed to invite conversation.

Finding new ways to maintain brand value, and yet appeal to the changing tastes of the traveling market will be vital. How is your brand finding ways to adapt?

 

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From Around the Web: The Impact of Guest Reviews on Hotel Business

hotel guest reviews
Photo by littlehotelier.com

According to a TripBarometer report by TripAdvisor, 90% travelers choose an accommodation based on ratings on a review site and 88% travelers are guided by online reviews and posts on TripAdvisor. Reviews with a rating on 4 – 5 generate more than double the conversion compared to a review with 1.0 – 2.9 rating on Expedia. Hotels that have a higher guest score typically will have better placement on the travel sites.  A better placement on the travel site means more bookings and more bookings mean a higher room rate, and eventually higher revenue for the hotel.  Identify what emotions your guests’ value at the key touch points in their journey with you and also those they want to avoid. No matter how difficult it is if you are not taking care of your guests’ emotion then you are doing a terrible mistake.

To learn more about the Tripbarometer report by TripAdvisor, click here.

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