According to a new study from HVS London, hotels are in danger of failing to adapt to a new breed of guest whose needs and demands are entirely different to those of previous generations.
The report, “A New Breed of Traveler,” says the impact of rising affluence, globalization, and technology has led to modern hotel guests valuing experiences and the feeling of “being connected” over traditional hotel luxuries.
“It seems that many hotels have barely changed over the last decades still consisting of the same in-room amenities, the same heavy curtains, the same check-in process, and the same small desk. This is no longer a place where the modern-day traveller feels at home,” states report co-author and HVS associate Veronica Waldthausen. “This new segment of traveler is no longer looking for white-linen service, bellboys to carry their luggage up to their room, or a concierge. When the current generation of young travelers enter a hotel, they want to feel completely at home, connected and to be in a setting where they can be part of an experience.”
The study, which includes interviews from leading hotel executives, outlines the fact that the new generation of travelers see luxury more in the storytelling of having an experience, rather than in the abundance of luxury items. They are much more satisfied with a hotel lobby they can sit in and drink coffee surrounded by other people, than having a coffee machine in their room.
“You can buy status symbols, but buying an experience is much harder. Whereas leading hotels used to be equipped with gadgets and technology, the new breed of traveler wants the confidence of places that understand them, and to be surrounded by a community of like-minded people, wherever they go,” adds Waldthausen.
The changing nature of hotel guests is also prompting change in the traditional layout of hotels. Lobbies, for example, are becoming larger, more open social hubs and gathering spaces, with a mix of comfortable couches, communal workstations, and meeting spaces. Formal divisions between the lobby, restaurant, and bars are also disappearing with guests able to sit where they like or help themselves to what they want.
Rooms are changing too, with many lifestyle hotels having smaller rooms as guests spend more time in social places. Desks are becoming less necessary in the room, as people prefer to sit on chairs or on beds to work when using their laptop or tablet.
Meeting rooms are becoming less formal with brighter color schemes and comfortable chairs. Hotels are becoming creative with their breakout spaces to allow guests to feel that they are in their own home.
Hotel service is becoming more intuitive and casual, albeit with the same level of respect. Some hotels are abandoning uniforms and the days of scripting responses to guests are over.
“The new-breed of ‘lifestyle’ hotels have adapted, differentiating themselves in both style and service and are offering a new kind of product that is comfortable and simple, a place where guests can become part of an experience by interacting with the people that live there as well as staff,” says co-author Arlett Oehmichen, HVS London director. “There will always be a market for wall-to-wall luxury, but it is lifestyle hotels that are prompting change throughout the industry.”
Photo credit: Young woman sitting on bed via Bigstock