Read any travel trend report and it won’t take you long before you land on the word authentic; Airbnb’s chief economist recently spelled out just how big the 'living like a local' craze has become, saying that close to 90% of the company’s guests want that out of their stays.
But a challenge for many hotels is how to make their attempts to create authentic experiences for their guests feel genuine. There can be no textbook answer, but there are some ideas we’ve come across that might provide inspiration.
Helpful, industrious concierge staff is a beautiful thing. But helpful, industrious concierge staff with encyclopaedic knowledge of the local area is quite another. We know of a company that recruits destination ‘super brains’ for its concierges. They tend to act more like hosts helping visitors unearth the hidden gems usually only frequented by their fellow residents. It leaves guests with a raft of excellent recommendations to pass on, potentially including the hotel itself.
Open your doors
Most trips are made by those you meet along the way. So what better way of ensuring your guests leave with treasured memories than by inviting more people through your doors? A hotel close to us lets travellers mix with locals through a partnership with a coffee shop chain. A buzzing espresso bar creates a unique atmosphere on the ground floor.
Content is king
Research is a major component of many journeys these days, but with millions of reviews online it can be overwhelming. Worst of all, hours spent searching on the internet stops guests doing what they came to do — seeing their destination. Creating first-class content like area guides will take away the pain. Enlist influential locals to make sure what you’ve got is special, keep it up-to-date and get it to guests as far in advance of their arrival as possible.
We often hear that hotels tend to look the same and feel the same. There are good, practical reasons for that like security, proximity to transport links and so on, but being practical doesn’t have to mean ruling out less conventional buildings. One Spanish hotel has proved popular because it feels like what it used to be — a residential building — and elsewhere people have flocked to sites built in restored historic landmarks. Reviewers say they feel more connected to the environment they’re staying in.
Not every guest is so eager to shake off the tourist tag, but with millennials among those the most keen to keep it real there is no doubt that authenticity will still be high on hotels’ agendas for years to come. We’ll bring you more examples of people getting it right soon.
In the meantime, to hear more about how hotels are perfecting their guest experience, come along to our Direct Booking Summit series in New York and Barcelona.