What do modern city guests expect from a hotel?

You’ll see that the vacation photos of your grandparents are very different from yours.

Your photos will likely be of your favorite food trucks, not the themed dinner they attended in a hotel.

Travel and tourism have changed dramatically in the last few decades. Hotels must find new ways to attract guests and keep them returning year after year.

Geraldine Guichardo is the Head of Americas Research for JLL’s Hotels & Hospitality Group. She says, “What customers want from their hotel stays is always changing.” Consumers used to be most concerned with a robust loyalty program and large guest rooms. They want more unique experiences that are influenced by the local culture.

Hotels in small and large cities with good locations and excellent transport links must be more creative when offering guests something they cannot get at another hotel. It goes beyond providing multiple charging sockets and fast and reliable wifi for uploading holiday photos to social media before flying home.

Unique experiences

Experience is the key to travel today. When they travel to new destinations, consumers want to experience other cultures and live as locals. Modern hotels are designed to reflect the best of their cities, from food and drink offerings to preparation.

Nashville’s Urban Cowboy Hotel is a good example. The hotel, comprised of eight suites in a Victorian house, offers a communal space for budding musicians and whiskey lovers. The hotel is located between farm-to-table restaurants and live music venues, allowing guests to enjoy the best country music on the property or explore nearby.

Consumers can also benefit from appealing to their specific interests. Hotels create experiences that appeal to groups with particular interests – foodies and art lovers can book rooms at hotels that feel like they were built just for them.

The Zero George Hotel in Charleston, South Carolina, offers cooking classes taught by local chefs. The hotel offers guests the opportunity to enjoy gourmet food and learn to prepare a new dish without ever leaving. The Thompson Seattle offers yoga classes on its rooftop lounge. Guests can take in the breathtaking views of Seattle while enjoying the exercise.

Out-of-the-box spaces

Why stay in an ordinary hotel when you can stay in places with a unique history?

Old No. 77 Hotel & Chandlery is located in New Orleans in a former coffee warehouse that was turned into a general wholesale business. This company sold goods to ships preparing long voyages. The hotel lobby still features painted signs and exposed brick from its days as a busy warehouse.

Many travelers, particularly younger generations, vacation with social media in mind. “They want to take interesting photos of beautiful places and share them with their family and friends,” says Guichardo. Hotels in unique locations encourage organic sharing. This gives them additional brand exposure through user-generated content.

Many other hotels in the U.S. use this design style to significant effect. The National Register of Historic Places lists 21c Oklahoma City, the former Ford Motor Company Assembly Plant. The hotel designer preserved many historic features in a nod towards the industrial heritage of the building – large steel windows and high ceilings, for example.

Look Out for Others

Hotels are aligning with non-profits and charitable causes to meet the needs of today’s travelers, who want to support socially and environmentally responsible projects. This includes choosing suppliers that have high ethical standards and fundraising for charities. Hilton, for instance, allows HHonors members to donate their loyalty points and match each donation with a cash contribution. According to research, younger consumers are more inclined to purchase products and services supporting charities and recommend these businesses to friends.

Many hotels in the U.S. now work directly with charities, whether running training schemes to help local teenagers from poor communities or donating food to local food banks or homeless shelters.

The best hotels are the ones with creative ideas.

There needs to be a checklist that meets all the requirements of a modern city hotel. The hotels that do it right all have something in common: they offer their guests a unique experience, whether a cultural event or a place to sleep at night. Each hotel made Travel + Leisure’s list of the top city hotels in America.

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