Kokua Hospitality, an independent hotel management group that’s breaking the mould for hotel operators across the U.S., is known to embrace innovation. The company moved its headquarters to San Francisco in late 2016 to get closer to the heart of it. “We are always looking ahead so we can stay on top of trends and incorporate them into our properties,” explains Pederson. “I don’t mean just within the hospitality industry; we look big picture at what consumers want, demand, or better yet, don’t even know they need yet. Then we find ways to make these work for our hotels so they remain in the forefront.”
“It’s only a matter of time before robots are delivering fresh towels to your guestroom,” predicts Pederson. “The hospitality industry will also undoubtedly find more ways to provide amenities that consumers are now used to having at home. Guests are looking for a ‘better than stay at home experience'”.
For example, the Kokua managed Axiom Hotel, San Francisco’s newest tech-forward, independent boutique hotel, was the first in the market to introduce dedicated wireless routers offering complimentary Wi-Fi per guestroom. With this amenity, Axiom Hotel sets a new benchmark for offering uninterrupted, secure Wi-Fi networks. It would not be surprising if this becomes an expectation in luxury hotels.
“Technology is a big focus for hotel brands these days and it’s not cheap – they are all trying to satisfy hotel owners’ quest for ROI, and it’s tough to show on many technological upgrades. The major brands are doing some great work focusing on providing immediate returns by rolling out new / updated revenue management systems, while some REIT owned hotels are encouraging a tech-forward approach with robots and keyless entry. There’s lots of other hotel brands launching exciting new products so it’s starting to happen,” says Pederson.
“As far as new concepts in the market, the constant roll out of new hotel brands and sub-brands by the big guys will likely come to a halt this year with the saturation of new hotel brands at an all-time high.” Pederson predicts this will be the year we see an entirely different type of collaborative hospitality concept hit the market.
“The idea of shared spaces, shared rides, shared ideas… they’re going to keep coming. We will soon see companies fusing the various shared services we see in demand into cohesive, power-house products. Before long, member’s only apartment/hotel establishments offering amenities such as shared office and meeting spaces, on-demand car services, and dining outlets, will be introduced to the hospitality market,” says Pederson. “Think: A hotel or condo building meets WeWork meets Uber, available exclusively to companies or individuals who sign up as members; a way for employees and business travellers to easily travel, live, and work in major cities where real estate is hard to come by.”
Convenience, efficiency, and exclusivity fused into a luxury product. Let’s hope he’s right.
Kirk Pederson, president of Kokua Hospitality, joined The Chartres Lodging Group in 2011 with 15+ years of experience in the lodging industry and was responsible for all new acquisitions, operations and asset management. In 2016, he assumed his current role of president at Kokua Hospitality, overseeing all corporate initiatives with a specific focus on growth and owner relations.