Christina McCale is the author of six books, editor of 12 books, author/co-author of more than 45 academic papers and presentations, and developed course materials for more than 22 courses or textbooks. You can learn more about her writing at christinamccale.com or amazon.com/author/christinamccale
Jade Conroy of The London Telegraph writes that there nine key trends she’s observing in the hotel market.
Forget the usual hotel restaurant. “Following Rene Redzepi’s successful Noma residency at the Mandarin Oriental Tokyo last year, chefs of similar acclaim are setting up temporarily at hotels.”
Smart Hotels are getting hotter. While no one’s saying that the unmanned hotel is going to be the norm, hotels can use technology to create frictionless experiences for guests. An example of this is Arrive Hotel in Palm Springs. Hotels embracing this philosophy are offering check-in at the hotel bar, cross-functional staff who can provide all kinds of guest support, keyless room entry, on screen Netflix/Apple TV and guest services arranged through text messaging.
An Appreciation for Historical Hotels. There is a growing appreciation for smaller hotels with historical relevance and ambiance. Hotels like The Beekman Hotel and The Chicago Peninsula that are not just luxurious but who have a clear sense of history and style are of great appeal.
Millennials are “in.” Hotels are looking for ways to appeal to this HUGE target market. Some hotels are rethinking room size (include everything a guest needs, and nothing they don’t) and creating entirely new brand lines. Marriott, for example, has an entire hotel that serves as its lab for experimenting with new offerings before rolling it out to the rest of the line.
Wellness Goes Mainstream. Once thought only for the luxury hotels, the wellness trend is making its way downmarket to appeal to all sorts of consumers who realize that health isn’t just about decisions made in the doctor’s office, but rather all the little decisions you make — from restaurant decisions to aromatherapy showers — on a daily basis.
The latest revival of the landmark Martha Washington Hotel capitalizes on the building’s historic feel and neighborhood roots in a reconceptualized lodging, The Redbury.
Long an iconic landmark of the NoMad neighborhood, The Martha Washington Hotel originally opened in 1903 as a women’s-only hotel that catered to the growing population of women migrating to the city for work historically done by men, education and the arts. The hotel changed hands several times throughout the 20th century, changing brand names as well to include Hotel Thirty Thirty, Hotel Lola and King & Grove New York, before joining the SBE Hotel Group.
The Redbury’s creative genius, Matthew Rolston, brought the “Matthew Magic” to his latest elevated hotel experience by drawing inspiration from the boutique hotel’s Tin Pan Alley location, the heart of the city’s music industry in the 19th and 20th centuries, while evoking a feeling of the Redbury brand environment.
Rolston, known for his relentless creative pursuits, has a particular connection to music: from his Rolling Stone covers to music videos for everyone from Madonna to Beyonce. And it’s this particular connection that seems to infuse his Redbury interiors.
In an interview, Roston described his inspiration: “Reacting to the hotel’s site, I discovered that the surrounding neighborhood was the original home of American popular music in the early parts of the 20th century, an area known as ‘Tin Pan Alley.’ Because The Redbury as a brand is a music-centric concept, that discovery was a perfect fit….The Redbury as a brand has unique qualities. It’s casual but also somewhat theatrical. It’s fun, but it’s a brand that takes service protocols seriously. The overall feeling is quite romantic—but, it’s a mixture—relaxing and exciting at the same time, and who doesn’t want that?”
The guest experience was at the center of Rolston’s design, creating an environment that was both homey, and yet evoking high artistic drama at the same time. The rooms are uniquely Bohemian, with super soft, eclectic linens, curated photos and artwork that create an immediate inspiringly relaxed atmosphere.
That, coupled with sleek and spacious baths and signature upscale bath amenities, and you have a one of a kind experience no traveler will soon forget.
We’re particularly fond of the creative use of herringbone tile work, as seen in the photo above. It’s details like these – in conjunction with the patterned flooring, millwork and fluted columns you find on the Selldorf Architects renovated ground floor – that make the Redbury an architectural gem.
Travelmarket Report shared five key trends — disruptions — for the hotel industry as observed on at the Hotel Experience trade show held at the Javits Center. They include:
The Sharing Economy. “Hotels can’t wish away Airbnb, said Skift CEO Rafat Ali, “but there is mass denial going on among lodging leaders. Airbnb won’t be as transformative for hotels as Uber has been for the taxi industry, but it may be the next big distribution channel, supplanting OTAs.”
The Reinvention of Legacy Brands. As we’ve discussed here, Millennials are shaking up the hotel experience – and some brands like Marriott are adapting to these changing tastes.
The Rules about Hotel Restaurants/Food & Beverage Are Changing. The article shares five major changes for hotels in their restaurant/bar operations.
Meetings and Events are changing. According to the article, event logistics will become more and more automated, event apps and paper money will likely disappear.
Good News for Travel Agents.Harvey Chipkin reports that there is a “sense of wanderlust among millennials is exponentially greater than the other three generations.” Further, Millennials and the affluent are more likely to use travel agents to help with travel plans as they are groups who “perceive a value in paying for their time.”
As we’ve discussed before, here on Hotel Tubs Pro, consumers expect hotels to be at least as good as what they have at home (or what they aspire to.) While this list is primarily focused on the residential market, there are trends that hotels should pay attention to and consider for their upcoming renovation projects.
Blending Natural Materials
The natural, organic, clean look will continue. Spice up your designs with continuing your tile work onto the walls, or reusing materials in other parts of the suite. Not only are these aesthetically pleasing designs but they can also be lower maintenance for your cleaning staff. While we might be hesitant to incorporate wood directly in line with water, consider wood-like tile products that incorporate the look, while still remaining durable for industrial, high-volume use.
White on White
There’s a big reason why white is so used: it’s clean, it’s elegant. It can help small rooms seem more light and airy… So why wouldn’t it be commonly used in the bath? Note in this photo, too, other smaller trends: the use of the trough-style sink, the freestanding soaking tub, and wood floors — all of which are ongoing trends for you to consider including in your hotel baths.
As shared on interiorzine.com, “When one uses a combination of modern and organic, it creates a dynamic atmosphere that evokes clean and stylish sensation. The juxtaposition of wood and stone to synthetics is very clever, combinative and suitable for many variations of design.” Take note of the mosaic,bold colortiled wall behind the free-standing soaking tub: these are continuing trends from 2016 to consider as well. (Note in the picture above the use of wood accents. The smooth cement flooringtrend can also be incorporated here as well.)
Shower Benches/Grab Bars
With an aging population, it’s wise for hotels to at least consider adapting what they normally might look for in shower design. Shower seats and safety bars can get a bad rep, with most thinking they’re clunky or awkward looking in the shower. But they don’t have to be. Instead of thinking “chair size” – go big and think “bench.” The mental shift immediately changes your concepts in what is possible in designing the space. Also, draw in other design elements: the antiqued brass or mosaic patterns/graphical treatments.
Rethinking Water Spouts
Whether it’s a metal “fountain-like” faucet, or one out of clay materials with room for plantlife, your choice in faucetry can bring big personality to a small space.
We’ve talked about “living walls” here before, but now we’re seeing them included in bath areas. Also shown here: open shelving as storage to help your guests stay organized (and yet still within reach/sight so that guests aren’t as likely to leave personal items behind after checkout.)
At the other end of the spectrum, matted big, bold and dark colors can create drama in a counter-intuitive way. Normally, we think small spaces should incorporate light colors to create a lighter feel of spaciousness. But dark colors can create drama, warmth, a feeling a relaxation and cocooning. Neutral colors can also go dark – think charcoal grey. (Note here too: the continuation of tile on the walls and open shelving.) Also consider the shape of your tiles. While the traditional, rectangular subway tiles are common, consider other standardized shapes like hexagons(see above).
When most people think of “brass,” they think of the high-shine metal: but there’s more than one way to finish or treat brass. There’s just something about the classic elegance of the right treatment of brass with marble (another trend we’ve talked about.)
As mentioned earlier, dark neutrals are in — especially when used in combination with one other color (ie: black, or a dark teal, etc). Also note here the use of a longer, trough style sink, and unique organizational method/open shelving — all of which helps your guests stay organized while on the road.
While the EPA required that manufacturers make showerheads that only used 2.5 gallons of water per minute (gpm) in 1992, (down from 5.5 gpm), they also have a “voluntary WaterSense” classification using only 2.0 gpm flow for certification. That might not sound like much: it’s a 20% savings, which, added up over time — and in the volume hotels use it — can mean buckets of cost reduction.
Fog free mirrors work for both you and your staff: low maintenance upgrade that gives your guests frustration free early morning routines.
Smart Showers with Added Health Benefits
Smart showers are another element of tech-infused hotel rooms. Some smart showers can change shower stall glass from clear to opaque with the touch of a button. Others control temperature, water pressure and spray pattern preferences. Some stalls now include waterproof TV screens, while others have speakers that can play your favorite music from your iPhone.
While trends come and go, these are the ones we see as having “staying power” that you can include in various aspects of the design of your hotel rooms and baths as you begin renovating/refinishing your rooms.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Beekman is an architectural, historical and luxurious gem: or, as their parent company, Thompson Hotels,
describes the building, it’s “a masterpiece rediscovered.”
And rediscovered it is.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
Given shifting demographics and changing technology expectations, hotels have been trying to find new ways reinvent the hotel experience.
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:
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?