Hotels must innovate to successfully compete
At the Association des hôteliers du Québec annual convention on February 6, Alain April explained that hotel owners must be creative and update their properties to maintain and improve their competitiveness. With the exception of luxury hotels, Québec hotels seem to be lagging when it comes to ingenuity and modernization. This sector, composed primarily of mid-range hotels, must find ways to innovate. The examples below may provide some inspiration.
Top priority: Satisfy your target markets
Hotels are pampering female travellers, offering them a range of personalized services and facilities like emergency kits with all the necessities, make-up, ultramodern hairdryers, rooms with large closets, and yoga mats and DVDs. Vancouver’s Georgian Court Hotel has even set aside 18 rooms specifically for women, at no extra cost.
Hotels are treating children like little adults. The Steigenberger Hotel Gstaad-Saanen , in Switzerland, has installed a climbing wall and a kid’s spa. Le Meurice, in Paris, provides child-sized robes and slippers and serves children tea and sweets.
Flexibility is the key to attracting business travellers. As part of their loyalty program, Starwood Hotels and Resorts guarantees that customers who stay more than 75 nights per year can get a room at any time, day or night, at no extra cost.
Major changes in interior design
Hotels are transforming their decor to attract younger travellers, who like relaxed settings that encourage socializing and networking . Some hotel chains have been designed with this in mind, notably the Radisson Blu (see image, lower left) and the Hyatt House. Traditional lobbies are being replaced by common areas where guests can have a drink, enjoy a light meal or buy souvenirs. Reception desks are disappearing and self-service check-in terminals are becoming more widespread. Some establishments are making the hotel lobby a place for creativity. Le Méridien Hub (see image, lower right) reinterprets the hotel lobby as a “a gathering place for creative minds” with artwork, a lounge and a library (see also: Dessine-moi un nouveau hall!).
So-called lifestyle hotels (see also: Hôtel lifestyle: autopsie d’un concept) are designed to meet the needs of young hip, urban travellers. The rooms in the Hôtel du Triangle d’Or in Paris are inspired by the theme of music and its lobby features a multimedia area equipped with headphones.
Source: Hôtel du triangle d’or
New must-have technologies
According to a hotels.com survey of Canadian travellers, the iPad is the second-most popular modern amenity requested by this clientele , following the high-end coffee maker. Although tablets and touch screens are increasingly common at concierge and reception desks, they are now appearing in restaurants and rooms as well. At Parisian hotel Mama Shelter, the restaurant tables feature inset touch screens and there is an iMac photo space so patrons can take pictures of themselves and display them on screens throughout the restaurant.
Source: Mama Shelter
Accor has joined forces with Microsoft to integrate video games into its new modular room concept. Created in the Novotel Vaugirard Montparnasse in Paris, room “3120” was tested during a three-month pilot project.
More and more hotels have adopted sustainable development as a guiding principle. Delta Hotels and Resorts have launched “Delta Greens,” an initiative where every employee works to achieve the company’s stated goals: reduce energy consumption, carbon emissions and water consumption by 30% in the next five years. In France, the Comfort Hotel Lille Tourcoing in 2011 created a hotel room that is 80% recyclable, the first of its kind in Europe. In Accor’s Mercure hotels, all pillows and duvets are made of recycled plastic bottles. When no longer needed by the hotel, these items are then recycled and transformed into building and auto insulation.
Business events get a makeover
Basement-level meeting rooms are no longer popular, with users seeking rooms on the upper floors, preferably those with a panoramic view of the outside. New meeting spaces are bathed in natural light, like those at the JW Marriott L.A. LIVE, or offer a warm, inviting atmosphere, like the rooms at Meet at the apartment, in New York City.
Source: JW Marriott L.A. LIVE
Source: Meet at the apartment
Eating well and staying in shape
According to an Omni Hotels & Resorts survey, 56% of business clients would like hotel restaurant menus to offer more low-fat meal options. Over 70% of respondents would like to see healthy snacks in their minibar. In response, some hotels are replacing elaborate hard-to-digest business lunches with cold lunches. In addition, Fairmont has introduced a low-cal children’s menu, while Omni Hotels offer a gluten-free breakfast buffet. Connecticut’s Delamar hotels in Greenwich Harbor and Southport now stock their minibars with local products.
Source: USA Today
The Omni group survey also shows that business travellers would like more opportunities to work out. Therefore, the group’s Los Angeles and San Diego hotels now offer Get Fit Kits and Get Fit Rooms with treadmills. To make the fitness centre more fun, Le Parker Meridien in New York City has installed a Wii gaming console.
Well-rested guests are satisfied guests!
All the technology in the world is no good to a client who can’t get a good night’s sleep. Some hotels have taken this to heart and are working to improve the quality of their guests’ sleep. The Crowne Plaza hotel chain is testing snore-absorption rooms equipped with sound proof walls and headboards, specially designed anti-snoring pillows and wedges and a white noise machine to reduce the sound of snoring.
The Dorchester Collection has enlisted the services of a Paris sleep clinic to develop a sleep aid tool. Resembling a bedside lamp, this device diffuses light wavelengths and sound frequencies that help guests fall asleep. Finally, Scandic is the first hotel chain in the world to introduce beds that guests can adjust to their height, weight, body shape and sleeping position, using a remote.
There are any number of ways to amaze customers and foster loyalty. To remain competitive, Québec’s hotels must embrace innovation in order to reinvent themselves. Take inspiration from the creative ideas of the major chains and then call on design and technology professionals to help you carry out your new projects!
– April, Alain. “Rôle de l’hôtellerie au sein de l’échiquier touristique québécois,” talk delivered at the Association des hôteliers du Québec annual convention, Manoir St-Castin, February 6, 2012.
– É. de B. “Chez Mercure, rien ne se perd tout se transforme“, L’Hotellerie Restauration, July 26, 2011.
– Lenoir, Aude. “Nouvelles tendances en hôtellerie“, presentation given at the Association des hôteliers du Québec annual convention, Manoir St-Castin, February 6, 2012.
– Hospitality Net. “Scandic introduces personally customized beds as the first hotel chain in the world“, hospitalitynet.org, February 16, 2012.
– Nayer, Mélanie. “Dorchester Collection Introduces Innovative Luxuries to Hotels“, 4hoteliers.com, February 15, 2012.
– Poulin, Ginette. “La CITQ fait le bilan de dix années de classification de l’industrie touristique“, hrimag.com, February 1, 2012.
– PR Newswire. “New Wellness Report Released by Omni Hotels & Resorts Reveals On-The-Road Habits of Business Travelers” prnewswire.com, September 20, 2011.
– Springwise. “Hotel “minibar” offers up food for the mind” springwise.com, February 23, 2011.
– Tendance Hôtellerie. “Crowne Plaza crée la nuit d’hôtel sans ronflements” tendancehotellerie.fr, June 28, 2011.
– Tendance Hôtellerie. “Etude TravelClick® aux États-Unis: 1/4 des chambres sont réservées sur les sites web des hôtels“, tendancehotellerie.fr, January 16, 2012.
– Tour Magazine. “Lille: ouverture de la première chambre d’hôtel recyclable“, tourmagazine.fr, September 6, 2011.
– Travelpulse. “Le Meridien Hotels Unveils New Lobby Concept in Barcelona“, travelpulse.com, June 23, 2011.
– Trejos, Nancy. “Hotels cater to special diets; gluten-free food now on menus“, travel.usatoday.com, February 5, 2012.
– Trejos, Nancy. “Goodbye potato chips; Hotel mini-bars turn exotic and even healthy“, usatoday.com, February 8, 2012.
– Vong, Katherine. “Flexible Hotel Check-Ins“, trendhunter.com, February 7, 2012.
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