Throughout the past few years, one of the largest deterrents for travelers in making arrangements to England was the cost of travel. Visitors traveling from the U.S., China and mostly every other country in the European Union needed to consider exchange rate between their currency and the pound. Now, after the UK has voted on leaving the EU, consequently causing the pound to drop, online searches for travel to the UK has skyrocketed. In addition, according to the site, bighospitality.co.uk, "The UK's hospitality industry is also set to benefit from an increase in the number of Brits remaining in the UK for holidays due to personal safety fears from holidaying abroad and the weakened pound making overseas trips more expensive". To England or not to England?!
21c Museum Hotels (yes this is the correct title) have been making waves across the southern and mid-western US as the first establishments of their kind. According to 21c 's website, "The 21c story begins in Louisville. Laura Lee Brown and Steve Wilson, native Kentuckians, sought to marry their passion for contemporary art with a desire to make a considerable contribution toward revitalization efforts in downtown Louisville". The building is literally a museum with 91 hotel rooms, making it the first boutique hotel in Louisville. There are also 21c Museum Hotel establishments in Durham, Oklahoma City, Lexington, Bentonville and Cincinnati - all seemingly unlikely locations for artistic revivals. This innovative concept is doing pretty well (congrats!! ) as we saw a segment by Conde Nast Traveler featuring 21c on the Today Show.
Airbnb is feeling the heat today from the foundation of the late Julia Child. Airbnb reportedly used Julia Child's name without permission to promote bookings at her former cottage in Provence, France. The New York Times reports, "Airbnb sent out an email blast about the contest which stated it was giving away a free night at the former home of Julia Child in Provence, France and that the winner would be able to see the knickknacks in her kitchen exactly as she left them". This is the definition of false advertisement as all of Child's cooking books and tools are now kept at the Smithsonian Museum. Looks like Airbnb was caught red-handed.
Energy reduction, vitamin-c infused shower water and aromatherapeutic spaces are the newest fixtures in the hospitality industry's green initiative. Finance-Commerce.com reported that "The hospitality sector has been lagging behind in sustainability but sustainability is what guests are looking for, what owners are looking for and what developers are looking for as well". Some other changes on a smaller scale which hotels are beginning to make are smaller bottles of shampoo and conditioner, as well as urging guests to reuse sheets and towels (although we are not sure how guests at luxury hotels will fare with such a request). Read more here.
An article published earlier this month on Gothamist.com concludes that the popular home rental site, Airbnb, does not promote and equal experience for all it's hosts and guests. According to the article, "Last year, Harvard researchers sent identical Airbnb requests to more than 6,000 Airbnb hosts in Baltimore, Dallas, Los Angeles, St. Louis and Washington. The guests with "African American" names got positive responses 42% of the time, while names that sounded more "white" were accepted 50% of the time. Tamika received fewer positive responses than Kristen, and Darnell received fewer positive responses than Brad". These findings come at a troublesome time for Airbnb, as cities across the globe are witnessing a legal showdown between the hotel industry and the informal rental site. Furthermore, Airbnb claims that some of their NYC listings have had positive economic impacts on some of the city's black communities (think Bed-Stuy, Crown Heights), while local politicians and advocates claim these listings have increased the pace of gentrification (think less affordable housing). Sounds quite subjective, and subjective issues are never easy to agree on. Read more here.
Sometimes we dread human interaction and other times we crave it. The desire for both is probably what makes us humans instead of robots. As artificial intelligence is having more of a mainstream presence, hotels are walking the fine line between automated convenience and human connection. According to an article on Hotelier.com, "Some markets, most notably in Japan, many traditional services offered by hotel staff have been replaced by robots utilizing artificial intelligence to carry out voice & text based conversations. For example, at the concierge desk at Henn-na Hotel in Nagasaki, Japan, guests are greeted by two staff members - one speak Japanese and the other English - but both are robots". Although efficiency is always a plus, it is sometimes refreshing to be greeted with a warm welcome after the stress and unpredictability of traveling.
Anyone who is familiar with New York City knows that current trendy place to be is in Brooklyn. From nightclubs to hotels to restaurants to people-watching, Brooklyn is where it's at (at least until the L train stops running). Riverside Developers are just about finished with the highly anticipated William Vale Hotel in North Brooklyn's Williamsburg neighborhood. Just one stop on the subway from Manhattan, the 183 room hotel will provide guests with a stunning view of the city, all while being immersed in hipster-land. According to Curbed.com, "When complete the hotel will feature 40,000 square feet of retail and office space located on the lower levels of this unique and quirky building. There's also a 15,000 square-foot rooftop public park, and a swimming pool on the third floor". It will be very interesting to see if high end guests are ready to make the (insanely quick) trek across the East River for their night time accommodations.
You can (almost) say goodbye to some of the amenities that were once non-negotiable staples of three and four star hotel rooms. Closets (replaced by wall hooks), carpets, floor to ceiling mirrors and desks have been purged by chains such as Marriott's Moxy Hotels, Best Western's urban boutique brand Vib, and Tru by Hilton. According to Jll Real Views, "The move to more minimalist but functional design is driven by consumer feedback; with a big emphasis on intelligent use of technology coming from modern, both younger and business travelers in particular". But will guests be gaining anything new? Stronger WiFi connections as well as more expansive communal areas.
Hotel construction in New York City as of 2010 was on the rise, as plans for 36,000 new hotel rooms were filed. According to Curbed New York, "plans for only 512 hotel rooms in six buildings have been filed throughout the city since January 2016". What could be the reason behind such a sharp decline in construction in one of the largest and most popular cities to visit in the world? It is most definitely not due to a decline in the number of tourists visiting New York. In 2015 alone 59 million people visited NYC. Airbnb and other share home websites most likely have had the largest impact on the hotel industry. With rooms down to an average $266 a night (the lowest average rate since 2009) it will be fascinating to watch how developers plan on drawing customers back in. Kitchens? Netflix? Living Rooms? Free Wi-Fi?
Millennials are the new target audience of almost every industry. Millennials are the generation that have received the most marketing attention - and for a very good reason. By 2020, more than half of the money spent in the travel industry will come from millennials. They are the first generation of people to fully embrace social media for more than just personal pleasure. Millennials consistently turn to platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Foursquare & Yelp for information on hotels and travel. An article posted on Daylighted.com last year focused on general expectations that this generation has when booking hotels. For example, millennials prefer lifestyle hotels (think creative, vastly different from a traditional chain), close proximity to culture and incorporation technology. Read more here.
Solar panels, ingredients grown on-site, sand-dunes, "smart" fitness equipment, on-site waste management and therapeutic spa facilities. This description seems dream-like but is actually reality. The Oasis Eco Resort designed by Baharash Architecture in Liwa was designed around the significant role desert springs had in the survival of bedouins. But how can an oasis be maintained in the desert of the UAE's southern region? Using a deep well, groundwater is extracted and is not only used to irrigate the on-site crops, but to create a natural habitat for animals species as well as human recreation. There is a total of 84 suites and the resorts' projected opening is in 2020.
In the year 2016, we can reserve a hotel room that comes in almost any imaginable form. From beach bungalows to capsules to your traditional penthouse suite, a hotel room is clearly more than just a place to crash; the total experience is key. Migaloo Private Submersible Yachts has taken the hotel "experience" to a whole new level. Unveiled at the Monaco Yacht Show in this James Bond-esque structure is essentially a personal floating island. Including submerged restaurants & bars, a cinema, library and beach clubs, the Migaloo Yachts are far more futuristic than anything we could have imagined on our own. Read more from their website here.
Some hefty changes are in the works for Starwood Hotels. Marriott beat out China's Anbang Insurance in purchasing Starwood Hotels for 14.4 billion dollars. According to the L.A. Times, "The buyout, which may still be contested by China's Anbang, would create the world's biggest hotel company and give Marriott a stable of tony properties run by Starwood, like the St. Regis New York". In addition to this massive merger, Starwood is about to become the first American hotel chain to operate properties in Cuba. This development comes on the eve of President Obama's travels to Cuba. Talk about a busy week!
As the Erin Andrews lawsuit against the Marriott Hotel Chain has come to a close, the question of of safety is a top priority for hotel guests. Most people, including myself, automatically assume that the hotel, (especially if it is a well known corporate brand), will consider the well-being of guests a top priority. The Today Show's Rossen Reports decided to determine the accuracy of this assumption. Two producers went under-cover as guests in four top hotel chains - what they discovered is quite frightening. Exact room numbers and personal information given out to strangers whom have zero affiliation with the guest in question. Even more shocking is that this investigation took place after the very public Erin Andrews trial - hopefully this is wake up call to the very defunct security measures in hotels across the country. Watch the video here .
Anyone who has had experience booking rentals on Airbnb is well aware of the positives .. and the negatives .. that come along with the territory. For the most part, Airbnb rentals are more economical for those traveling on a budget - especially for an extended period of time. I mean what's not to love about a fully equipped kitchen, in essence helping to cut the costs of eating out for every meal? Oh right, sometimes those immaculate kitchen images turn out to be rusted over stove tops with caked in food.
Although consumers have been reaping the benefits of share economy companies such as Airbnb, Uber and Task Rabbit, the legislative people up above are not so happy. Check out this article on Recode which predicts the struggles Airbnb will be facing in the near future.
The recent Wall Street Journal article on Ian Schrager is the most comprehensive to date. Having worked for Ian (and Pino Luongo), I always find it interesting to read these articles, they seem to provide one more piece in a very complex puzzle. I will never forget the time, just prior to opening the Clift hotel, Ian and I were on an elevator together and a housekeeper rolled a cart onto the elevator filled with guest room towels. Ian starting taking towels off of the cart, smelling each intensely and throwing it to the ground, one after the next. Seems he did not like the detergent being used at the property - Ian was aware of every detail, literally every detail. There was a saying around ISH (Ian Schrager Hotels), it takes a lot of pressure to make diamonds. Trust me, Ian could apply pressure, but oh how those diamonds sparkled.
Today's New York Times article talks about hotels (really resorts), offering shared office facilities for those wishing to get away and play while never really leaving the office too far behind. Is this really the future?
According to a Wall Street Journal article,
"Bill Marriott, the 82-year-old chairman of Marriott International, the $19 billion hotel-management company, is done with flowered drapes and white tablecloths. In place of fusty bedspreads and fluffy carpets, he wants most of his 200 new luxury and lifestyle hotel projects to be filled with sleek flat-screen TVs, hardwood floors and hopping bars."
Bill Marriott continues - exclaiming, "we've got to be cool!" and announces the launch of Moxy hotels in 2015.
The Wall Street Journal reports that Barry Sternlicht's Starwood Capital Group is in advance discussions to sell his 114 room Baccarat hotel for approximately $2M per key - that figure matches the 2012 sale of the NY Plaza Hotel.