What is hospitality?

Hotel companies are pumping out new brands by the dozen, and there is something for everyone. But it feels to me like there is something for no one. Why? Because to be the best brand or operator for one customer, it means you are absolutely not the best brand or operator for other customers. No one can be the best at everything, but in the current market, it is as if each company thinks it can. 

All the big operators and some of the smaller ones are aggressively attacking multiple demographics with a slightly different version of the same product. Look no further than the strip in Miami Beach. This is the modern corporate mentality, and without a doubt it will to come back to haunt our industry. The same theory is unfolding in businesses like fashion, beauty and even beer, with the big brands beginning to have difficulty competing with smaller operations. Companies are realizing authenticity is not something that can be bought, flexibility is not something that can be taught and Millennials are willing to pay more for a product with meaning, which is not for sale.

This leads me to ask some questions. Do any of these new brands offer a meaningful value proposition that can be backed up with honesty, creativity and execution? Does it make good business sense to try and be everything to everyone? I don’t think it does, but maybe everyone is seeing something I am not.

I would argue that only a small percentage of hotel brands actually make any major impact on true consumer decision-making, especially with the rise of OTAs, and that it is the individual hotels and the people who run them that drive customer loyalty. Let’s be honest, where do you truly get the best “hospitality” experiences? At independent hotels and restaurants where the proprietor is involved in the day-to-day operations of the property. Why? The experience at these properties is personal, and the proprietor cares beyond a paycheck to make their guests’ stay exceptional. It’s fairly simple — the best operators have a deep understanding of their product and their guests’ needs and desires.  They know the people, and they take the time to connect with them. It not something they get out of their handbook — it something they got out of their heart.

Hospitality is a combination of people and magic — people who care enough to go beyond their own selfish desires in order to create magic for other people. Why? Because serving others is their purpose, and seeing the magic come to life satisfies their internal need for emotional fulfillment. Therefore instead of micro-segmentation, we should be focusing our energy on creating extraordinary experiences. Being extraordinary requires a maniacal focus on understanding and tending to your guests — not every guest, YOUR guests.