Hotels must adapt to a ‘new breed of traveller’, free Wi-Fi remains key

By Luke Nicholls

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Hotel

Traditional hotel layouts no longer cut the mustard with modern-day travellers
Traditional hotel layouts no longer cut the mustard with modern-day travellers
A new study into the UK hotel industry has revealed that many businesses are in danger of failing to attract modern-day travellers, with a separate survey confirming that free internet is becoming a must for the vast majority of guests.

The first study, entitled ‘A New Breed of Traveller’, was conducted by global hotel consultancy HVS London. It discovered that the impact of rising affluence, globalisation and technology has led to modern hotel guests valuing experiences and the feeling of ‘being connected’ over traditional hotel luxuries.

“Many hotels have barely changed over the past decade; still consisting of the same in-room amenities, the same heavy curtains, the same check-in process, and the same small desk,” said the report’s author Veronica Waldthausen.

“This is no longer a place where the modern-day traveller feels at home. The new segment of traveller 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 travellers 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 travellers 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.

Changing rooms

This 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 and more ‘homely’ with brighter colour schemes and comfortable chairs. Hotels are becoming creative with their breakout spaces to allow guests to feel that they are in their own home some with breakout space with a communal kitchen.
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.

Interactive experience

Arlett Oehmichen, director of HVS London, said: “Guests are looking for home-from-home. The new era is about participating in an experience, rather than flaunting wealth. Travellers today don’t want to feel like they are in a corporate setting, but thrive in environments where they can interact with people, be it face-to-face or virtual. They want everyone to participate and don’t mind interacting with new people.

“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.

“There will always be a market for wall-to-wall luxury, but it is lifestyle hotels that are prompting change throughout the industry.”

To download a copy of ‘A New Breed of Traveller – how consumers are driving change in the hotel industry’, click here.

Free Wi-Fi

Meanwhile, a separate survey conducted by Choice Hotels Europe, the company behind the Comfort, Quality and Clarion brands, found that that free wireless or internet services remains top of the list of most valued hotel amenities for the third year running.

An overwhelming 93 per cent of European hoteliers voted it the top business traveller amenity, with free breakfast highlighted as the second-most-favoured amenity in the UK.

The least-valued amenities were fitness centres and business centres, with only 14 per cent and 16 per cent respectively of European respondents believing that business travellers value them.

Choice Hotels’ ‘European Hotelier Pulse-Check’ survey was conducted on 118 Choice Hotels franchisees, operators and general managers from the UK, France, Germany and Italy.

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