It’s a brave new world. Without a doubt, the fast-changing expectations and requirements of travellers over the last decade have presented a real challenge for owners of independent hotels. Maybe you long for the good old days when things seemed so much simpler. The reality is that along with all the challenges there are also exciting new opportunities for your independent hotel to prosper, so, what is the modern traveller like in 2020?
Ready to embrace the winds of change? Let’s dive in and explore some of these opportunities together!
Opportunity #1 – Embrace what makes you unique
Many modern travellers are treasure hunters in the sense that they’re on the lookout for unique, unusual, and “Instagrammable” experiences. They can share this with their friends and followers on social media. This gives you, the independent hotel owner, a powerful advantage over your larger competitors, who thrive on efficiencies gained through standardisation across multiple locations.
From the decor to the service to the food. Opportunities abound for you to show off the local culture, art, and mystique. Research local legends and traditions. You’ll find a rich store of inspiration to help you come up with. Or unique titles for your culinary masterpieces, artwork to line the walls of your hotel, and evening entertainment to keep those cameras flashing.
Showcase local authors, artists, and heroes – whether historic or living. Maybe a nearby place was used in the filming of a famous movie, or a now-common cure for a deadly disease was invented on your doorstep. Or maybe your town had a famous but little-known role in a historical conflict – like this unassuming Worcestershire outpost!
Wikipedia, local museums and historical societies or even the national archives can help you out if you’re struggling for inspiration. Of course, you should start with your hotel building itself. If the property is an old one, rather than trying to modernise the appearance, maybe you could look at restoring it to its old-fashioned glory. Discrete LED lighting could be made use of to spotlight historical features. And just because your restaurant looks 200 years old doesn’t mean your guests need to do without the modern amenities they expect, like fast and free WiFi!
You can also partner with local travel, guide, and transport companies to offer unforgettable experiences that your visitors will treasure for a lifetime. Look for companies with similar values to yours, and a commitment to providing an excellent service. You’ll want to check their track record as well, as any negative experiences could reflect badly on your own brand.
Opportunity #2 – Unleash your staff potential
Want to know the next big opportunity for making an indelible impression on your guests? They’re all around you – your staff!
Alan Weiss (the worldwide renowned “million-dollar consultant”) says that he always hires for enthusiasm first. That is excellent advice for independent hotel owners too. Don’t be put off by a lack of experience, professionalism, or teachable skills in potential staff. Be on the lookout for enthusiastic, energetic, humorous people. Those that can breathe life into your organisation and infuse every interaction with their own unique brand of personality.
It’s always sad to hear of people getting turned down for work due to a lack of relevant experience. The advice given in the seminal book “Good to Great” is also relevant here. Get the right people on the bus, then figure out what seats to put them in. Of course, your existing team members almost certainly have hidden potential you can unlock too. It’s just waiting for you to find it!
Remember, one of the biggest advantages you have against big corporate hotels is the complete freedom to make your hotel a fun and enjoyable place to work. How you achieve that is up to you.
Speak to your team and find out their ideas for making their job. Also, by extension, your guest’s experiences – more enjoyable. It could be a relaxed dress code, enhanced staff perks, or a weekly “spin the reward wheel” exercise. Just make sure that all your team know that you value them bringing their own personality and contribution to the hotel visitor experience. That you care about them just as passionately as you care about providing an exceptional experience for your guests!
Opportunity #3 – Ride the health & wellbeing wave
No question about it – the modern traveller of 2020 is more likely than any previous generation to have health and wellness in mind when staying at your independent hotel. This mega-trend shows no signs of stopping, with statistics showing every age group increasingly making health-based buying decisions.
While Victorians (and even ancient Romans) used to travel to certain locations with believed health and wellbeing properties, such as a mineral spa or mountain air. Today’s traveller is more likely to be concerned with the availability of food that meets their dietary requirements. Or whether your hotel has a gym facility to help them keep up their exercise routine.
Of course, “wellness” is more than just diet and exercise. It takes into consideration mindfulness and mental health also, reflected in the increasing popularity of spa-type experiences. It doesn’t matter if your hotel is in the midst of a surging metropolis or perched on a rocky seaside cliff. You can still take advantage of this renewed interest in wellbeing with a carefully-crafted marketing message.
Maybe you can draw attention to a huge choice of vegan dishes, expertly prepared using local ingredients by your chef. Or perhaps your hotel has its own herb garden and living plants in every room. Maybe an outdoor eating area that is also a wildflower meadow, teeming with biodiversity. You get the idea! If you are in an inner-city, consider whether you can pitch your hotel as offering an oasis of calm and peacefulness. Sound-deadening walls, perhaps, or a basement spa and pool.
Opportunity #4 – Let guests connect for work, rest, and play
Ever hear the term “digital nomad”?
It’s yet another global trend that has been a feature of the last decade, and that is set to expand massively over the decades ahead. Workers with in-demand skills can travel the world while working remotely. Always using their laptops, smartphones, and apps such as Skype and Slack to keep in touch with their co-workers.
But it’s not just the digital nomad trend that you can take advantage of. The modern traveller expects to be able to connect their devices to the internet for entertainment, news, and esports too. Whether it’s a YouTube creator that needs to upload their latest video or a teenager that insists their parents only take them where they can remain connected (!). Fast, secure, and compliant WiFi is a must for your hotel.
Make sure that you advertise this benefit on your hotel website and your marketing materials too. You’ll steal an advantage over other outlets who overlook the importance to their guests of staying connected. By reassuring potential customers that they will be able to get online quickly and at no extra cost, you’ve just given yourself the best chance of securing that all-important booking reservation!
Bringing it all together
While the modern era has brought challenges and disruption to the hotel industry among many others, smart independent hotel owners can adapt to take full advantage of the opportunities that these changes bring.
If you want to connect to your customers in a more powerful way, why not give our WiFi marketing solution a go? Get valuable guest insights and reach out to them in a more personalised way. Understanding and catering to the needs and requirements of the modern traveller of 2020 can provide your independent hotel with the ultimate advantage towards the bigger brands.
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