In-room transformation

Warning: this week’s trend report is going to upset many. Why? Because as the famous saying states, it’s not a matter of “if,” but “when” hotels will return to changing their amenity offering as well as implementing the small-touch amenities. 

As occupancies rebound and room rates increase, there is a major change taking place in the guestroom amenity category as well as personalized small touches. Many U.S. hotel corporations will find this to be a huge wakeup call, as the change involves a major internal commitment to roll up the sleeves and set aside any preconceived gun-shy reactions because of what you’ve done in the past. 

I am currently taking part in a week-long multiple chain and boutique property study in France, where “re-imagining” the guestroom experience has already begun in 75% of the properties inspected and 100% of the corporations I met with. Remember, Paris is one of the most dynamic and sought-after cities in the world, which is exactly why it is already hosting the next generation of travelers.

The overall consensus from these property visits made it crystal clear the philosophy of one size fits all, simple inventory logistics and non-branded private-label amenities is absolutely going away. Guests expect more, and if you don’t adopt a method of how to implement severe change in what is still deemed an era of tight budgets, I fear the resistance will be costly.

Here are a few examples from the informative inspections:

  • Hotels charging for Wi-Fi can expect a download of complaints. 
  • C’est la vie to private-label amenities regardless of how innovative the bottle, name or solution.
  • Complimentary branded mineral water (at least on the first night) is gaining popularity.
  • Complimentary visits or attractive discount vouchers to local tourist hot spots or complimentary drinks, desserts, etc., are shifting from the concierge desk to the guestroom.
  • Multiple in-room organizers for guest messaging, in-room amenities and beverages are popping up.
  • Pillow duets are gaining ground; think two Euro and two standard, both with different fills.
  • Soapboxes are non-existent, (biodegradable packaging), and the new shape is a cube.
  • Chocolate turndowns are replaced with less messy and less costly perfume and cologne vials.
  • Mid- and luxury-level designer touches are being used for press bragging rights. I witnessed bedding, wallpaper and textiles by several fashion icons.
  • VIP and repeat guest giveaways were always representative of local flair.

While most chains prefer smaller transition steps for revamped programs (such as the return of the little extras geared towards repeat customers), reimagining the guest experience and implementing change is so important at Marriott, it has launched an entirely new global marketing campaign, “Travel Brilliantly,” so it doesn’t lose guest interest in the interim.

Understanding the sensitivity and confidentiality behind new room appointments at your company, instead, I invite you to share any observations you’ve had as a guest. What enhanced your overall guestroom experience? For instance, I truly appreciated the handwritten note from the GM as well as the fragrance from a piece of lavender picked from the hotel garden. I’m eager to hear your thoughts.