Great service and amenities have become the price of entry. Making guests feel comfortable, like they truly belong in your hotel, is now the key differentiator and loyalty builder. Of course, the never-ending vigil to improve the quality of deliverables remains important, but in the age of experiences you’d better learn to make your guests feel good.
I recently had an affirming conversation with Ennismore’s Sharan Pasricha, who is having great success with his London-based Hoxton brand. I called him for HOTELS annual Hot Issue to talk about the lobby and how it has become the focal point of the feel-good hotel experience. If you have a buzzy, comfortable and interesting space where it might be difficult to locate the front desk (if you even have one), the lobby experience serves to make a great first impression that drives incremental?revenue. At the same time, it can make a huge impression on locals, who may not only make it their hangout but recommend it as a place to stay, and so on and so on.
Pasricha waxed so thoughtfully about what his team calls “The Hoxton Hustle.” He describes it as a burst of energy a guest feels when they walk in the door, an eclectic mix of furniture, fantastic light, great music, affordably priced food and drink, with a great mix of people who live and work in the area, along with the business travelers and tourists staying on property. The Hustle delivers the feel good.
It requires the right mix of cultural programming that is not contrived or predictable. For The Hox, for example, it is more about how-to events related to tech or fashion, and entrepreneurial spirits sharing their ideas and concepts. To make it work, you must understand your community and audience, and Pasricha says the bolder the better, so don’t be afraid to fail. Programming also keeps guests in the lobby longer, spending more on food and drink.
But perhaps most importantly, for guests to achieve this ultimate utopian state, the staff needs to be carefully selected. They must intuitively understand hospitality and happily work side-by-side as their state of mind is what rubs off most on guests. As simple as it may seem, it matters most to have a happy team, which translates into a happy hotel. The team also must know the neighborhoods, and Ennismore spends a lot of time training staff to embrace, understand and ultimately showcase the location. So choosing the right location for the hotel, Pasricha says, should hinge more on its relevance and authenticity.
Interestingly, Ennismore also is developing a more mid-market product called NoCo — a less boring budget experience. So the question is how do you bring “The Hustle” to this segment and still have it pencil out, because staffing will be limited and self-service technology will be more prevalent? Pasricha says they are still working on it, but at this stage he knows the key is figuring out the right blend of accessibility and openness.
We will continue to follow this consuming trend. In the meantime, enjoy the contents of our June Hot Issue, which we’ll be featuring online this month — and if you haven’t already done so, find a way to create your own hustle.