As hotels continue to differentiate their offer to stay competitive, they’re becoming more than just a place to stay. Transformational hotels are positioning themselves as micro-communities within their local neighbourhoods, opening their doors not only to visitors and travellers, but also to those who live and work in surrounding areas.
Destinations in their own right
Recent years have seen many hotels shape their offering to provide a complete destination, attracting both guests and locals to enjoy dining options, shopping, health, beauty services and entertainment. In a particularly strong trend, hotel lobbies in higher-end properties have been reimagined into innovative retail spaces, capturing the attention of guests immediately on arrival.
For example, in New York, the Hyatt Union Square hotel has established The Accessories Butler in the lobby, where guests can borrow from a collection of professionally curated fashion accessories in the season’s latest looks.
Other hotel brands are using their lobby space to house boutiques and kiosks selling anything from fashion to books, homewares and design objects. Complementing the re-purposed hotel lobby, guest rooms are also now being used to showcase premium retail products in a high-touch, discreet and convenient service for travellers. Pop up retail concepts are creating particular interest within the hotel industry, both to increase ancillary revenue for the hotel while providing unique and high traffic exposure for the retailer.
From destination to micro-community
In the years ahead, more hotels will evolve from destinations into micro-communities where there is greater emphasis on collaboration with locals. Already, there are leading-edge properties creating more holistic communal experiences, bringing together likeminded guests and local community members who are inspired by the same interests and needs.
These experiences include:
- Activities inside the hotels - such as events in lobbies and bars to showcase local talent and performing arts, local sourcing of produce, or cooking classes hosted by local chefs
- Activities outside the hotels - these are activities that boost the hotel’s involvement in day-to-day community life, such as the coordination of local tours and services, support for community events in the neighbourhood and other similar activities.
The hotel micro-community is one that engages with and invites people in, even if they are not guests. It is a social and economic focal point within a neighbourhood.
Case study – AccorHotels
AccorHotels is strongly focused on this strategy having launched its AccorLocal mobile app in Europe as part of a ‘community hub’ strategy to immerse the brand with the daily lives of people – not just travellers or guests – but those who live and/or work locally.
Using the app, people can order a variety of services from both the hotel and local merchants, such as shopkeepers, florists, bakers, fitness instructors and many others.
“Our hotels will be a place that makes life easier” Sebastien Bazin, CEO AccorHotels. “People may not need a room, but they may need a service.”
Whether they need to leave their luggage, drop off a rental car, pick up dry cleaning after hours or access other local services, AccorHotels is changing the way people interact with their properties.
As the industry continues on this path of evolution, travellers and hotel neighbours can expect to see more properties offering exciting new services and operating as true hubs of community connectivity.