In 1915, a popular hotel amenity was a mosquito net large enough to cover a full bed. Lucky travelers in the ‘50s would find chocolates placed on the pillows of their freshly made beds. By the 1980s, a guest could use a credit card to pay for their stay. Today? A robot just might be spotted helping people with their luggage. Consumer needs and wants inevitably change and the industry continuously adapts to serve them in new and often innovative ways. But what if an individual consumer’s various needs are seemingly at odds?
Serving Contradictory Needs
The 2017 IHG Trends Report examines the “Age of I” – a social dynamic within travel’s highly social, yet individualistic, economy that at once reflects peoples’ desire for both inclusivity and individuality, both assimilation and differentiation. IHG offers these four paradoxes upon which hotel brands can begin to understand today’s consumers and what they’re looking for in their hotel brand experience.
- Separate But Connected – Digitally connected 24/7, people have a need to be “always tuned-in.” But they also need downtime, solitude and privacy. The report gives an example of co-working office spaces where more professionals are flocking to work individually, yet together. In the hotel space, this concept has taken brand experiences from simply transactions to relationships: “People want a feeling of Meaningful Membership in an interconnected community that also respects their individuality.”
A hotel brand might present this in the way their lobby is designed: a comfortable, communal place offering multiple seating configurations and refreshment options. Take a step inside and Tour the Hotel of the Future.
- Abundant Rarity – Luxury is at the heart of this paradox, as people today define it in different ways at different times. And luxury experiences, which don’t have to be owned to be enjoyed, are more accessible to more people in more places. This makes the travel industry a likely hotbed for “available luxuries,” described in the report as truly authentic, original, crafted products and services that highlight a person’s individuality.
Hotels can consider a luxury offering as one that maximizes both scarcity and availability; for example, relaxing and rejuvenating spa services. Explore Current Insights into Today’s Affluent Travelers for more.
- Seeking a Better ME and a Better WE – People today tend to want to tackle self-improvement while making the world a better place. The report describes this as a two-pronged need for both self-satisfaction and selflessness. This concept ties into the “effective workplace culture” many employers are striving to achieve through connecting company success with individual success (and vice versa).
Hotel brands can capitalize off of this me/we dimension by building social, cultural, or environmental responsibility into their value props. Tap into the consumer mindset by reading Making a Difference on a Volunteer Vacation.
- Do it Myself and Do it for Me in My Way – The reports put it this way: “technological changes affect how we perceive our selves as individuals and how we perceive ourselves as part of a group,” and this has created some confusion about what’s really in our control. Consider artificial intelligence: Is the robot a computing or thinking? Hospitality brands are part of the “battle for the soul of control,” and therefore tow the difficult line between self-service and customized full-service.
Hotel brands may need to consider the specific behaviors and preferences demonstrated by their target markets. If enabling guests to use an app to order additional towels that get delivered by a robot is too extreme, perhaps a more middle-of-the-road approach is called for. It’s All About Me: Personalization in Leisure Travel sheds more light on this topic.
To learn more, look through thes FAQs About Lifestyle Branding in the Travel Industry. And to browse through travel trends through the ages, head over to Gecko Hospitality blog.