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Special Report, Lodging

Welcome to Change

Business travelers of all generations are bringing new expectations to their hotel experience

“We want people to leave the hotel feeling better than when they checked in.” That’s the credo of Kelly Vohs, general manager of the Conrad Chicago, but it embodies the mission across today’s hospitality industry, as hoteliers meet changing demographics and travel patterns by creating memorable experiences for guests, even – and sometimes especially – those traveling on business.

While skeptics sneer at trendy lodging concepts like “authentic,” “local” and “experiential” as mere buzzwords, hoteliers see something real behind them. “At their core, these buzzwords are opportunities to build an emotional connection,” says Christophe Thomas, general manager of the SLS Beverly Hills. “What we in the hotel industry need to focus on is developing a team that is encouraged to think outside of the box to customize and enhance the guest experience to match each guest’s uniqueness.“

The real trends behind ‘trendy’ are also important to Bashar Wali, president of Provenance Hotels. “Although ‘local’ and ‘experience’ have become buzzwords in our industry,” Wali says, “they speak to a generation of travelers who want a high-touch relationship with their surroundings. For us, delivering a local experience reflects our care for our guests and our pride for the innovators in our home towns. It goes beyond trendiness.”

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