Finding the balance between technology, design and various cultural expectations is the latest challenge lodging executives are facing. And injecting a heightened experience into it all makes the challenge even tougher. That’s the reality facing the global lodging industry as hotel executives look to grow their profit pie by bringing a multi-cultural sensibility to their guest mix.
Hey, nobody said it was easy. But those that can successfully maneuver this maze will have opportunity to fetch premium pricing while building loyalty from the rise of the global traveler. And that is what it’s all about. Capturing the guest’s loyalty by captivating their souls.
At BITAC Global this week we focused on this issue as an industry think tank to find ways to leverage this emerging opportunity.
BITAC of course is the industry leading one-on-one meetings and relationship building event in the United States and now we’re taking on the world at this week’s BITAC Global, which is being held seaside in the Mediterranean in Monte Carlo, Monaco. BITAC Global attendees represent the crème de la crème of the international lodging community. It’s the ultimate group of global insiders and decision makers all gathered in one place. And they’re all here to come together for the most exciting BITAC to date to problem solve, network, sign deals and swap their thoughts they believe will move forward the quality of experiences for hotel guests while adding profits to the bottom line.
“Originality and excitement comes from branding, not blending brands. A unique property must stand out and service is the key to pulling it all together. Design and service must be number one,” explains Marty Vorko, Owner / Principal of the design firm 1213ID, which does a lot of work within the Middle East.
Therese Virserius, Principal of the design firm Virserius Studio says hotels can have a great design and be filled with technology but it must be anchored to experience. “The modern traveler wants a seamless experience from checking in before they arrive to other aspects that facilitates the ease of travel,” she says.
Virserius adds that hotels must have a fluidity to them that elevates the interaction between the guest and the physical space of the hotel. “People want to feel special and boutique hotels in particular are catering more to creating a sense of lifestyle within a smaller, more intimate setting,” she says.
Graham Willams, Executive Director of BAQUS Construction Consultancy service says you don’t have to complicate things by overreaching with design. “Keep it simple, service is really the key and delivers on the guest’s expectations,” he said.
Noorhasim Ghani, FF&E Project Manager with Hyatt International EAME/Southwest Asia said it’s not as simple to deliver on guest expectations for hotels focused on a multi-cultural guest base. “Technology absolutely must be the latest but staff must be able to communicate and support guests. Employees must know how to speak the language of their home country as well as at least one more. The more the better,” he says. “Though we have different brand procedures, we try to create the same experience at all Hyatt hotel brands throughout the system.”
Vorko agrees when it comes to technology. “Travelers are wanting to see the latest technology. They are just like their kids that way,” he says.
We also polled the attendees in our audience utilizing cutting edge technology and taking the industry’s pulse with a real time voting system. It gives us the ability to uncover from our worldwide BITAC Global audience what’s really happening when it comes to critical industry trends at the property and regional levels on a macro basis. Here is how they responded to some questions focused on development.
On average how many languages does you staff speak?
1 - 0.0%
2 - 40.6%
3 - 35.9%
4 or more - 23.4%
What is the main motivating factor that gets a guests to book your hotel?
Location - 59.2%
Price - 19.7%
Amenities - 2.6%
Experiences - 11.8%
Style - 6.6%