Luxury Hospitality Is Changing
by Fitzroy of London
Today, around the world, the luxury hotel industry is facing a fundamental challenge: the very definition of “luxury” is shifting. The affluent consumer segment is becoming increasingly diverse, and their expectations set the new benchmark for luxury hotels higher than ever before. While some guests continue to place value on a property’s proud tradition, rich heritage and long-established conventions when selecting a luxury hotel, others demand innovation, personalisation, and flexibility.
Instead of outsourcing travel decisions, many of today’s luxury travellers seek their own information and make their own decisions. And with information being so readily available, especially through peer-to-peer endorsements on social media, luxury travellers are more knowledgeable than ever before. The result of this is that most luxury hotels cannot afford to rest on their laurels. For a hotel to get into the consideration set for affluent travellers many things from hotel facilities, to room design, to staffing decisions, to special programs it must constantly evolve.
7 points for luxury hotels and hospitality companies to bear in mind to ensure they succeed in this changing and competitive market:
Travel is a time for inspiration, especially for affluent travellers. Thoughtful, original and relevant design in every detail – lighting, textiles, typography, utensils - is therefore of great importance. From unique sculptures and impressive canvasses to live performances of original music, dance or poetry, the creative arts can enrich the guest experience in ways that mere ostentatiousness cannot. collaborating with bespoke manufacturers can help provide each luxury hotel with a unique way to portray the above elements.
Luxury hotels need to incorporate a focus on their guests’ health and wellbeing in every aspect of the experience – this includes standard and disabled guests. Luxury hotel’s must offer amenities that nurture the quality of life of its guests. Guests expect health-focused spas and professionally-staffed wellness areas, advanced air and water filtration, and circadian lighting systems, as well as personalised health and fitness programs. This includes a luxury provision for accessible suites – with so few luxury hotels offering a luxury standard of wellness to full spectrum of guest requirements, luxury hotels have the opportunity to promote their opulent brand and lavish services through ensuring their offerings are available to all, regardless of physical of mental capability.
Today, the demographics show that more and more of us are living longer, with recent sources suggesting 1 in 5 people reading this article will live to see their 100th birthday. Luxury hotels must ensure that they have an adequate luxury provision to care with dignity for these guests. Unfortunately, accessible rooms are often seen to be a liability to a hotel both in terms of design and income. Interestingly, the opposite is the truth – with well-designed accessible suites that meet both the interior designer’s brief a compliance being so rare to find, this area offers the perfect opportunity to differentiate from the crowd. Secondly, if you look at which age range of guests spend the most, it also increases the importance of ensuring that these guests feel welcome at your hotel.
Young affluent travellers see holidays as a time to learn something and broaden their cultural horizons: they want to benefit from cultural immersion and to engage with the community in which they’re visiting. Luxury hotels can create a sense of distinction by providing their guests with unique insights into local life.
Maybe often forgotten, one of the keys to authenticity is personnel: a well-trained and experienced team of hospitality professionals from the local community are the best possible representation of that destination. Staff members who have grown up in the region can give guests an insight into the outlook of the people and their culture. For luxury hotels, investment in staffing must be high priority.
It is a sad fact that personal safety is an ever-growing worry for today’s affluent traveller. According to Resonance, a consumer-research consultancy, safety is the biggest concern of wealthy travellers. Hotels wishing to attract luxury, often wealthier guests, must be able to prove their security credentials.
Even in the rarefied atmosphere of luxury hotels, this simple maxim still holds true: here’s no substitute for personal service. Differentiation must come from more personalised service, and that means knowing the customer – either from previous visits or from research services. Reach out to potential guests to show that you’re ready to accommodate their individual preferences. This includes provision for guests who are both elderly and disabled. Some wealthy individuals prefer to send their staff to a hotel in advance to prepare their room, sometimes bringing items from their own homes. For the guest who has everything, the familiar can be the greatest luxury of all.
The luxury hotel segment is large and continues to grow at a promising rate. Whilst still honouring their brand values, hoteliers and hospitality companies must tread a narrow path between tradition and innovation. Certainly, there are many pitfalls, however be sure to know that the rewards for success are great!