Hotel rooms are getting a new look.
Corporate travelers may send emails in a coworking area with USB and power outlets. Leisure visitors can relax around a table stacked with games or upload photos to social media.
David A. says, “Today’s travelers often value convenience and a sense of community more than traditional hotel luxuries.” Black, Americas Hotels Lead at JLL Project and Development Services. “That is one of the reasons why hotel companies have developed so many soft brand names that emphasize communal spaces with experiences and spaces that bring people together.”
Tru by Hilton, a new hotel brand from Hilton, is one of many that encourages guests to spend more time in communal areas and less in their rooms. The hotel’s “The Hive,” a creative space aimed at Millennials or travelers with a “Millennial mentality” who want to interact with others, embodies its brand. In place of a traditional hotel lobby, guests can choose from four different zones: work, play, and lounge.
Moxy Hotels is Marriott’s new boutique brand. It features an industrial-style lobby with games, coffee, and full-service bars. Moxy Hotels knows that not everyone will appreciate the hotel’s signature, a communal Ironing Corner, but they are banking on Millennials to love its new approach.
Lauro Ferrroni, Global Head of Hotels & Hospitality Research at JLL, says some communal spaces are familiar. Hotels have always had lobbies, pools, bars, and restaurants. Hotels are now focusing on the design of these common areas to attract younger travelers.
One New Jersey hotel has gone beyond the traditional poolside loungers and created a permanent backyard barbecue area with Ping Pong tables, food trucks, and craft beer from a VW van converted into a bar.
How to get travelers together
Airbnb, HomeAway, and boutique hostels are gaining in popularity, driving hotels to develop new methods to accommodate large groups of family and friends traveling together.
Marriott’s Element mid-range hotel brand targets guests who stay more than a few days and has been testing private room blocks built around a shared kitchen and living area. It’s all about the shared economy today. In an interview earlier this year with KTLA, Toni Stoeckl said that traveling is more about community and socializing.
Hotels must design their common areas to appeal to guests and provide them with the necessary privacy.
Black says that despite the growing attention on Millennial travelers, hotel brands cannot afford to ignore “seasoned” travelers. Design solutions must be flexible to accommodate coworking and co-living spaces and baby boomer-friendly spaces. There is no one-size-fits-all solution.
Traveling in a small group has different expectations and needs than traveling as a couple.
Ferroni says that the shared experiences can be the best part of a trip. Ferroni says that many people will not be interested in this type of experience, whether they are business or leisure travelers.
Can we move forward by embracing a communal approach?
Hotel social areas could be more creative and more significant, especially for hotels that target younger customers.
Ferroni thinks that the concept will catch on in America’s larger cities.
He says the concept will gain more traction in gateway markets such as New York, Miami, or San Francisco, where many Europeans are present.
Ferroni speculates that hotel executives may wonder if this is the next great thing. However, he believes it would be foolish not to try it. “They are looking at it as a test-and-error approach. Hotel companies that want to be innovative must recognize shared spaces – regardless of whether Millennials are their primary audience.