Opening a hotel in 2018: A balance between hospitality roots and new trends

5 Dec. 2018

Starting a new business nowadays, whatever it is about is more challenging than ever. Beyond the competition and the ever-growing number of start-ups, people’s needs are evolving terribly fast, alongside new technologies and trends. As a matter of fact, this requires businesses to adapt their offer continuously, and marketers to listen to the least customer’s desire clue.

The hospitality world is no less concerned

Meeting and exceeding guests’ needs has become more and more arduous: they do not only ask for a basic service, but also for an experience, which has today way more value than any material good.

Expectations are high. So how to reach the right balance between a basic level of service and an unique experience to fulfill them?

Historically, offering hospitality means offering nourishment, comfort and entertainment to guests, as well as to strangers. The very first hostels created in Japan during the 8th century, and the following ones worldwide were all based on these pillars. Human connections were actually the real business.

This is how the hospitality industry started to grow: thanks to human connections. Ignoring or denying these roots is thus inconceivable for new entrepreneurs. But on the other hand, focusing exclusively on new trends and demands would not work either. So it is a question of balance, between hospitality roots and new trends. This is why it’s so challenging for new concepts, hotels or start-ups to seek a place in the industry.

Though, a few companies and revolutionizing conceptions of hospitality succeeded in establishing their name among the top, best-known hotel concepts of the world. And even if they don’t directly compete with luxury hotel brands, they instead draw a new, dynamic generation of guests: the “Millennials”, looking themselves for a new and dynamic way of staying somewhere.

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One of the best example is probably the French brand Mama shelter, now settled in a few continents. The customers are young, but converge into these new places. What elements draw them this easily? Well, as our society tends to develop and promote social mixity and self-expression, no better idea could be found than a hotel proposing designed and offset open spaces, as well as a family and down-to-earth spirit. This idea emerged in 2008 in Paris. The Trigano family tightly collaborated with the world-known designer Philippe Starck to conceive and build up a revolutionizing conception of the hotel industry. In practice, the results are upscale and urban boutique hotels, perfectly blending the roots of hospitality with the chased unique experience.

The environmental factor

Other components take more and more value in our minds when choosing a place to stay. One of them is the over-debated but obvious environmental factor. It’s actually unconceivable for an increasingly number of tourists to travel without even considering ecological issues, like water and energy consumption in isolated areas, or eco-friendly infrastructures in National parks.

Tourism pollutes, it’s a fact. But people, especially the new generation of travelers, voluntarily face a global awareness, including environmental issues. And since they feel more concerned about it (68 percent of tourists prefer booking an eco-friendly hotel according to a 2016 Booking.com survey), hoteliers invest in eco-tourism, a lot. The “travelling green” mode is now even more than a trend. This is by the way the reason why new offers such as eco luxury lodges are under the limelight. They propose for a significant price a top class service, in a stunning environment, while protecting in the meantime the wildlife and/or the local community. A stay in one of these resorts is consequently way more than a simple stay: it’s a full immersion into the local culture, which might finally be the expected once-in-a-lifetime experience.

The impact of new technologies

A last but not least important question has to be raised when tackling the new industry trends topic. How to best combine new technologies with the human connections every hotel have to propose?

Innovation is probably one of the most crucial point hoteliers face on a day-to-day basis. There is a real need to be equipped with the latest high-tech amenities. Beyond the huge investment it requires, mobile check-ins, online reservations and other tendencies reduce significantly the labor costs. Plus, more than 50 percent of the 18-35 travelers expect a fast and efficient service, whether they are away for a leisure time or for business purposes. Voice command technology, virtual concierge service or mobile room keys, customers’ expectations are now more likely to be satisfied by a smartphone. The hospitality industry has consequently justifiable reasons to use modern amenities.

However, a few guests still need to benefit from a one-to-one service. Human connections can’t be left aside in an industry built around services. Therefore, a compromise must be found to fulfill the expectations of every generations of guests and still meet the business objectives.

Author: Léo Kleinpeter, EHL Bachelor student

Learn more about EHL's Bachelor in International Hospitality Management Discover

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