We live in the era of the “experience economy” where guests crave adventure and exploration, where experiences become transformative and sensory, transcending beyond the actual experience and moment in time. We have become less materialistic and more excited to share real experiences with family and friends and create those memories that will last a lifetime.
The term ‘experiential travel’ defines that shift in guest behaviour towards a more active, engaged and involved form of travel. This also applies to hotels, where guests want and expect more from their hotel experience, and so hoteliers are learning to embrace the experience economy.
One thing the hotel industry has learnt from Airbnb is the growing demand for alternative, fun and memorable experiential accommodation and this creates an opportunity for hotels to adapt through innovative design. It’s no longer about the materialistic collection of things, but rather the collection of experiences from adventure sports and active tourism to authentic immersion and living like a local – all of which appeal to that yearning for continued learning and personal development.
The definition of hotel luxury is being redefined as hotel guest demands evolve from the traditional finery of luxury décor and service to the ideas of authenticity and experience. It is less about materials and finishes than about the lifestyle offer. Guests have embraced informality, where service has become more relaxed and friendly, allowing guests to feel more at ease. Public spaces are being reinvented to become unforgettable, and include lobbies, bars, restaurants, and landscaped areas.
The demand for alternative lodging experiences extends to nature-based, sustainably slanted lifestyle hotels, where guests can stay in a space that feels more like home, creating cosy living room spaces for socialising and entertaining. Distinctive design is becoming the norm as guests look for those wow factor, instagrammable moments and opportunities. It is encouraging hotel owners and operators to create more memorable experiences.
From treehouse dwellings, tented resorts, to dome hotels and sleeping in pods, the hospitality industry endlessly reinvents itself. This is further evidenced by The Tawny Hotel in Staffordshire, described as “a hotel like no other”, as well as the recent opening of the Naviva Four Seasons in Punta Mita, Mexico.
The new concept of deconstructed hotels responds to a traveller’s desire for privacy and a more back-to-basics feel where guests seek remote experiences – a growing trend for 2023. Deconstructed hotels have changed the way we think about hotels. Gone are the traditional receptions and lobby layouts, and standard hotel room accommodation.
Instead, guests are greeted with curated guest accommodation, strategically positioned to respect their privacy and prioritise the experiential aspect for the guest.