After a month-long trip to Spring Training where we drove and stayed at hotels on the way down and will do so also on the way home, we have noticed a lot of things that hotels are doing to improve and compete with others– and it improves the quality of the hotel stay guests are getting these days.
There are so many different ways that hotels are trying to earn our business, but the biggest one we see are the renovating of many brands.
On the way down we stayed at the Drury Hotels and most of them have either updated or are in the process of doing so. There are no Drury Hotels in Jupiter, FL so we stay at the Homewood Suites, Palm Beach Gardens – which recently when through a complete overhaul. The Homewood Suites, PBG has lightened their colors up and the result is a relaxing, inviting, but fast-paced lobby.
Interestingly enough the new furniture seems to be similar in both hotel chains which makes one think there is a reason behind it. Gone are the big comfy couches and chairs as the lifestyles of the travelers have changed. Travelers are on the go and the new hotel furniture seems to reflect that. Couches are open on one end or maybe there is not “back” which seems to make it easy for guests to take a quick stop to check their messages on their phones and then move on. There are tables with comfortable chairs out in the lobby as well as the breakfast rooms—as opposed to the old table and sturdy lunch-room like tables from the past.
Guests with laptops can be seen at the lobby tables and there seem to be more electrical outlets for re-charging devices.
Each trend is listed below with the changes we saw.
1. Catering to millennials
Millennials (those ages 18-34) are expected to represent 50% of all travelers to the USA by 2025, according to the Cornell Center for Hospitality Research. They travel often and are tech savvy and will announce their pleasure or displeasure with any product—including a hotel on social media.
- Tech explosion
The majority of travelers today are savvy enough to book their hotels on line and hotels need to be up to date with this. Good hotels will have “business center” and a staff who can help. Of all the hotel we have used the Drury Hotels are easiest to log into. Once you have logged into a Drury Hotel your laptop will automatically update and log you in—no passwords or room numbers to add.
- Influx of international visitors
There are more international travelers so hotels need to have a wide variety of personnel and hopefully some who speak several languages.
- Increased emphasis on health and well-being
Travelers today like to be able to work out in a fitness room or take a swim in the pool or relax in the hot tub. The other thing that has been growing increasingly important is healthy food options. The Drury Hotels offer eggs and breakfast meat every day along with their other delicious food. They realize some people are trying to eat low carb, but some are wanting pastries or waffles since it is their vacation. Offering more choices is what sets them apart from hotels who just offer a “Continental Breakfast.”
5. Need for seamless technology
Hotels are getting more tech savy in the area of check-in with some offering kiosks and new types of key cards.
- Sustainability rules
Many hotels are offering eco-friendly practices and giving the guests the option to re-use towels to cut down on water use. Some hotels are installing solar panels or making the lights turn off automatically after a certain amount of time.
- New roles for staff
Because so many travelers are in a hurry these days some prefer to check in digitally. There will always be a need for “the front desk” to help with customer service, but new technologies can free them up for other things.
- Destination promotion
Nowadays social media and online discount sites drive the hotel promotion industry. As a result of this, hotels are doing more self-promotion. They employ social media managers to engage with guests online.
- Real-time damage control
As a result of the social media explosion guests can—and do—go on Facebook, Yelp, TripAdvisor or any of the many outlets and complain about the bad service, rooms or whatever. Now with the social media manager they are able to respond in real-time.
- Unique perks
There are so many brands—and even brands within the brands—to choose from so hotels are working extra hard to provide something that others don’t. Some hotels even give downloadable music lists to their guest or bring warm cookies around the lobby or have wine-tastings. Drury Hotels offer a complete meal for dinner as well as beer, wine, soda, and even hard liquor alcoholic drinks. Another unique perk is they will let guests purchase tickets for breakfast or dinner so they can invite friends.
The Homewood Suites in Palm Beach Gardens offer happy hours four nights a week and even occasionally offers a “Karaoke Night” to their guests.
The hotel industry is constantly trying to re-introduce themselves with newer versions. Who benefits from all of this? We do, the travelers.
Photo: Drury Hotel lobby, Gape Girardeau, Mo.