HVS has uncovered ‘a new breed of traveller’. The hospitality consultancy reveals the dynamics driving changing demands and the impact on your hotel
Identify the dynamics fostering change
Rising Affluence: The rich are getting richer; People want products through distinction; Good design is accessible and consumers appreciate it and want it; People crave experience over status symbols.
Globalisation: There are more like-minded people; Brands are everywhere; Cultural variety is diminishing; Solutions are more universal.
Technology: Millennials have at least two devices in their pockets that are connected to the web at any time; The cost of communication is decreasing; Technology makes things easier and has led to an explosion of information; Social media is used daily; User-recommended feedback is becoming increasingly important and internet forums are providing increased transparency globally.
Impact on… the lobby
Millennials like to be “alone, together”, says Starwood senior vice president brand design & innovation Michael Tiedy.
This means that they want to be in a public place with a coffee and their tablet, but don’t mind sitting alone.
Mama Shelter founder Jeremie Trigano highlights that a lobby should be “made of meetings, freedom, fizz, interactions and emotions”.
“People are mixing work and play in this social setting and want to feel immersed in the city life that surrounds them,” says Marriott International vice president of international development Tim Walton. Formal divisions that once separated the lobby, restaurants and bars are also disappearing.
At some hotels, guests can help themselves, like at home, and eat on the couch in the lobby or ‘living room’ if they choose. This merger of space is also beneficial for hotels as they are able to generate more revenue per square metre while simultaneously reducing staff costs.
Given that guests now spend more time in social places, rooms are also changing.
“Many larger brands are removing the desk as most people tend to sit on a comfortable couch or work from the bed when using a tablet computer,” adds Marco Nijhof from Yoo.
Some companies are also seeing room size decrease. The new generation of travellers spends intelligently. They would much rather pay less for their room and spend more on a dinner with friends or entertainment.
The meeting rooms
Meetings are becoming more informal and guests do not want to be holed up in a windowless, boardroom-style meeting room. Like the other public areas in hotels, meeting rooms are becoming more homely. “Residential colour schemes are used with shards of bright colours and comfortable chairs,” says Marriott’s Walton.
At Hyatt, breakout space may even include a communal kitchen where people can prepare light snacks at their leisure, explains Hyatt senior vice president of brands Sara Kearney.
As previously mentioned, luxury to the modern-day traveller no longer necessarily entails white-glove service or an Armani suit.
“Service today is more a way of communicating at the same level, but with more respect,” says Christoph Hoffmann from 25hours. Employees are now allowed to have their own personality, and in some hotels no longer have to wear a uniform. The days of scripting every word that comes out of an employee’s mouth are over. This, however, does come with certain challenges as staff must be trained on how to combine both casual behaviour and professionalism. Hyatt’s Sara Kearney mentions that “phenomenal service should be thoughtful and respond intuitively to what customers want”.