Communal spaces on the rise in hotels
Thursday, July 27, 2017
Hotel industry stalwarts have admitted that Airbnb has forced them to compete with "people's living rooms" and replicate that experience to sell their brands.
Changing customer demands have given rise to a new generation of hotels where the rooms are getting smaller, and the common areas are getting bigger and better. The focus is on creating small and cozy rooms, along with sleek and stylish lobbies, lounges, cafes and bars that beckon guests to spend time and interact with others.
The generic, faceless hotel rooms are giving way to a world of vibrant communities.
Experts are calling this change "the Airbnb effect" — and rightly so. Airbnb has been the disruptive brand that has shaken the hospitality industry and created strong ripple effects in all related industries.
But there is more to the trend here. It involves the new generation of consumers and influencers who represent 92 million Americans — the coveted group of millennials. They are looking for a cozy, connected and communal space.
For a generation that loves to work in coffee shops rather than office cubicles, likes to mix business and travel, and prefers remote workplaces and more work-life balance, the importance of the common areas during a hotel stay is paramount. They are looking for trendy hang-out spaces rather than luxury rooms to relax in.
Hotels that are quick on the uptake have realized that one way to stay ahead of the competition is to create these communal spaces. The leading names innovating in this sphere are Yotel, Hilton, Best Western and the IHG brands. Their focus is now on creating the "home away from home" experience.
The cozy and casual ambiance is deliberately aimed at making guests feel like they are in someone's living room rather than a hotel. This is what the experiential marketing of Airbnb highlighted, and now it has become the buzzword for the future of hotel marketing.
The British chain Yotel came up with small property designs that have 75-square-foot "cabins" near Heathrow and Gatwick airports, blending comfort and luxury effortlessly. The idea is to transform the large, unused spaces into smaller more usable rooms, saving infrastructure and energy costs and giving guests more value for their money.
Hilton’s Tru brand is the next one making waves along with its Home2 Suites. Every new property announces large and inviting communal spaces in the marketing collaterals. Vib and Glo brands from Best Western are also notable in their efforts to promote wonderful shared experiences for guests.
Some prominent features that mark these properties are digital keys, room lighting, movies and music that are controlled by smartphones. BYOD (bring your own device) is a prevalent concept, but functional efficiency hasn't killed aesthetics. The contemporary design of these hotels has done away with closets and dressers and instead sport trendy open-pipe shelving and stylish wall hooks.
Marriott's millennial-focused Moxy hotels are often referred to as "crash pads." Plush amenities blend in with flexible furniture and combo desks. But what makes these hotels popular with millennials are the designer communal spaces like the gigantic rooftop bars.
With features like blown-glass balloon pendant lights, giant custom fun house mirrors and rotating carousel-inspired lounge seating, they are being touted as an "urban amusement park" in the hotel itself. This is going to be the space where guests will spend most their time instead of their rooms.
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