Today’s hotel guest arrives with high expectations. They want the latest technology, an array of dining options, personalized entertainment options, and the chance to enjoy once-in-a-lifetime trips and tours. For hotels, keeping up with these demands can be challenging to say the least.
To make life easier, we’ve compiled some of the main experiences to consider in order to meet the expectations of the 21st-century hotel guest.
1. Destination experiences
More and more people travel with the intention of having a one-of-a-kind experience. When they visit a destination, they’re often looking to enjoy an authentic adventure and leave with a story — often to be told on social media.
Capitalizing on this trend, Airbnb’s ‘Experiences’ has grown to include increasingly quirky activities. For instance, guests can spend time with a vegan taxidermist in London, have a sandwich feast experience in New York, and attend a hidden concert in a houseboat in Amsterdam.
Niche and unusual opportunities like these tap into the desire for experiential travel, bringing a destination to life and driving more bookings.
Tips for success:
Instead of recommending a standard list of sightseeing trips, inspire your guests with special experiences that can’t be found anywhere else. Research unique trips, upcoming events, and locally-led tours or activities that will offer them an opportunity to try something completely new.
To help tailor your recommendations, find out about your guests’ personal interests before they arrive. To make life easy for them, create a series of trip experiences that they can choose from, such as ‘nature and adventure’, ‘fine dining’, ‘shopping’, and ‘relaxation’. Just like Airbnb, create a dedicated page on your website with your recommended experiences — it’s a great way to excite potential bookers and provide an invaluable resource to your destination.
2. Dining experiences
Dining experiences often form the heart of travel, and food tourism has become a booming industry in its own right. Travelers often want a unique culinary experience to learn about the destination and take home a story about their trip.
In recent years, the popularity of the farm-to-table trend seems to have been eclipsed by the boom in plant-based dining. Hotels are also having to accommodate an increasing array of dietary requirements, ranging from gluten-free and paleo to organic and non-GMO options.
Taking time to offer the optimal dining experience has never been so important.
Tips for success:
Celebrate your local dining scene. Give your guests the chance to sample authentic dishes that represent your region. Strike up relationships with neighborhood producers, source food from farmer’s markets, or grow your own produce to ensure your menu is as fresh as possible.
Given the trend towards healthy eating, consider adding healthy snacks in the mini bar, and expand your menus to incorporate popular dietary choices, such as vegan, vegetarian, raw, and paleo.
In the interests of managing expectations, clear communication before arrival is vital. Include your restaurant’s menus on your hotel website, and reach out to guests to ask about any dietary preferences or requirements before their stay.
3. On-property experiences
Discerning travelers also have high demands when it comes to the experiences hotels offer. An array of properties are now going above and beyond by hosting their own on-property experiences. For instance, the Leman Locke chain offers everything from DJ training and cooking classes, to acoustic sessions and a 5K running club.
Wellness-minded travelers are also bringing new expectations with them, especially in the luxury sector. Instead of aqua aerobics classes and pool games, the wellness trend has seen hotels provide everything from yoga and mindfulness lessons, to detox programs, fitness boot camps, and include in-room gym equipment.
Tips for success:
Make sure whatever experiences you offer are delivered to a high standard. While it might be tempting to provide an array of activities to satisfy all tastes, you need to make sure you can deliver what you say you will.
Not sure what kind of experiences will prove popular? Learn more about your guest’s preferences by analyzing past booking data. Or reach out to them directly with a short survey — what kind of experiences would they like you to offer? As a general trend, offering activities that focus on fitness, personal growth, and self-actualization will likely be well received.
4. In-room experiences
The modern hotel room needs to offer a true home-from-home experience. In particular, travelers want access to the same technology they use in their daily lives. This is true across generations. Instead of on-demand TV, they want access to their favorite streaming services, such as Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, and Pandora.
Hotels around the world are now starting to cater to this need.
At selected properties, Hilton’s Connected Rooms let customers access their favorite streaming platform on the in-room TV, and continue watching shows and movies they were streaming before they arrived.
Technology is also being used to personalize the room. For instance, CitizenM has a touchscreen “MoodPad” that lets you control everything from the TV and lighting to the temperature, blinds, and tunes through the iPad controls.
Tips for success:
While major chains might be impressing guests with voice assistants and smart room technology, most travelers don’t expect these kinds of extras. But what they do expect is for you to get the basics right.
At minimum, provide plenty of power outlets so devices can be charged easily. If you’re going to allow streaming to the in-room TV, make sure that your bandwidth is sufficient to deliver a quality experience. If there are problems with your connectivity, be quick to offer solutions — your guests will quickly become disgruntled if they’re disconnected.
In addition to technology, consider other ways you can make your rooms feel truly home-from-home. Provide plush towels and pillows, a well-stocked mini bar, quality toiletries, and include brand-name filter coffee or a blend from a local roaster. The small luxuries can make a big impression.
5. Flawless booking experience
The seamless user experience offered by OTAs has changed how travelers shop online. The likes of Booking.com and Expedia make browsing and booking fast and frictionless. Users are able to find rooms and prices quickly, and complete their booking easily with simplified forms that require minimal information.
When these same users visit your hotel website, they bring the same expectations with them. If they don’t receive a high level of convenience and intuitive browsing experience, they’re likely to get frustrated and shop elsewhere.
Tips for success:
Make sure your website is simple to navigate and important information is prominently displayed. Room details, amenities, prices, and contact details need to be easy to find from anywhere on your site.
Use quality videos and images to bring your hotel and destination to life. It’s also worth taking the time to craft an engaging tone of voice that excites potential guests about your property and differentiates you from the competition.
More advanced websites can also use price-checking tools that conduct real-time price checks with OTAs and automatically adjust a hotel’s published rates to match or beat that price.
The age of high expectations
Hotels need to work harder than ever to satisfy the demands of today’s 21st-century traveler. By considering each of the experiences outlined above, your hotel will go a long way to ensure you match, manage, and exceed the expectations of your guests.