Homemade soup and other influences shaping the hotel industry
As we emerge from the recession, hotels are improving their occupancy, RevPAR and profitability. With a maturing market there have been several large mergers and acquisitions the most notable of which is Marriott International absorbing Starwood hotels and Resorts group and its 11 brands resulting in a new portfolio of x brands, with more than 5,500 properties and one million plus rooms. Hotel mergers and acquisitions were are not limited to the largest players as Accor acquired Fairmont Raffles and Wyndham acquired Dolce- as each pursued new brands in segments they currently do not serve.
The hotel market is also changing in that hotels are responding to the continued evolution and purchasing power of the millennial market segment – characterized as younger guests who want and expect a non-traditional hotel experience. Newer, hipper, tech-laden hotel brands continue to emerge as do renovations of existing legacy properties to meet the changing consumer preferences. Consequently, some exciting new hotel concepts have recently come online. The concept hotels range from a cardiovascular city architecture design to self-sustaining desert hotels and High-Tec interactive hotels. Even special event hotels like The Sorrento hotel in Seattle are now offering guests unique events and a different hotel experience such as an Urban Distillery Tour Stay Package where guests take tours and tastings at Seattle’s distilleries during their stay.
Other hotel concepts are developing to further fill out existing market niches such as Hilton’s Home2Suites, which is self-described as “an innovative, new extended-stay hotel brand that’s both ‘hip and humble’.’’ Qbic hotels takes innovation and renovation to a new level with their modular plug and play hotel room model placed in underutilized real estate locations. The low cost design hotel is based on the philosophy that the best service is sometimes self-service. Qbic offers an affordable, quality and stylish place to sleep with a local feel for the budget traveler.
Several new hotel interface and amenity trends are emerging like the use of mobile bookings from smartphones with apps such as Hotel Tonight or one of the apps supplied by the major hotel chains. There are more tech-savvy amenities like in room touchscreen controls that operate everything from the television and lighting to the curtains and thermostat. A few hotels have complimentary iPads available and some hotels (Hyatt and Starwood) offer check-in kiosks at airports to streamline and simplify the process for travelers. Starwood has gone even further by allowing rooms to be opened by smartphone apps.
The Townhouse Hotel in Maastricht puts a new spin on authentic hospitality and hotel friendliness by offering guests a warm personal welcome cup of homemade soup at check-in and local cakes to take home at check-out. They strive to offer 4-star service at a 3-star price – “the 4th star is on the house!” Finally, the new Student Hotel concept provides fully furnished and fully serviced rooms and suites for students, urban travelers, academics, friends and family. International and local students can enjoy an all-inclusive and hassle-free accommodation with lots of benefits such as a library, lounges, study rooms, a gym, café, restaurant, your own bike, Wi-fi and cable TV. You even get to decide how long you would like to stay, whether that be one night, two weeks, or two semesters! The Student Hotel proclaims itself to be “a comfortable, safe and fun place to sleep, eat, drink and make friends for life. The Student Hotel is all about community, convenience and comfort.”
About the Author
John R. Walker, D.B.A., FMP, CHA, is the McKibbon Professor at the college of Hospitality and Tourism Leadership at the University of South Florida Sarasota Manatee and a Fulbright Senior Specialist. He is an accomplished author with several leading industry titles include his most recent release, Introduction to Hospitality Management, 5th Edition. John’s years of industry experience include management training at Savoy Hotel London, followed by the stints as assistant food and beverage manager, assistant room division manager, catering manager, food and beverage manager, resident manager, and general manager with Grand Metropolitan Hotels, Selsdon Park Hotel, Rank Hotels, Inter-continental Hotels, the Coral Reef Resort, Barbados, West Indies. He has taught at two- and four-year schools in Canada and the United States. In addition to being hospitality management consultant and author, he has been published in the Cornell Hotel Restaurant Administration Quarterly, the Hospitality Educators Journal and the New York Times. He is a 10-time recipient of the President Award for exemplary professional performance through teaching and authorship of tourism hospitality publications.
John is an editorial advisory board member for Progress in Tourism and Hospitality Research. He is the past president of the Pacific Chapter of the Council on Hotel, Restaurant, and Institutional Education (CHRIE). He is a certified hotel administrator (CHA) and a certified Foodservice Management Professional (FMP). He and his wife Josielyn have twins, Christopher and Selina. The Walkers live in Sarasota, Florida.