The transformation of high-end hotel lobbies into ‘micro-communities’ - places where hotel guests and locals can enjoy a mix of goods and services is becoming a popular trend in the hotel sector.
According to SME business travel provider Corporate Traveller, hotels are evolving from destinations into mirco-communities where there’s a greater emphasis on collaborating with local businesses.
Corporate Traveller General Manager Jess Anscombe, said hotels in Australia and overseas have been transforming their offering to provide a complete destination where guests can enjoy dining options, shopping, health, beauty services, entertainment, the hotel pool or a sauna.
“These hotels are positioning themselves as micro-communities within their local neighbourhoods – welcoming business travellers, as well as those who live close-by. Hotels are looking to differentiate themselves from the competition and designing lobbies and surrounding precincts so they can operate as chic retail, dining and leisure hubs in their community,” Jess said.
“These kinds of hotels are targeting business and leisure travellers who may not have the time to venture too far and enjoy having a hub right underneath their hotel, which is bustling with people and services. This kind of micro-community allows time strapped travellers to enjoy more from their overnight business trips – particuarly if shops, restaurants and entertainment is easily accessible after they’ve finished work.”
In New York, the Hyatt Union Square hotel has established The Accessories Butler in the lobby, where guests can borrow professionally curated fashion accessories in the season’s latest looks for special events or corporate dinners. Other hotels are using their lobbies to house boutiques and kiosks selling anything from fashion to books, homewares and design objects.
Some of the experiences leading hotels are creating in collaboration with local businesses include:
- Activities inside the hotels – such as events in lobbies, bars showcasing local entertainment and performing arts, sourcing local produce or cooking classes with local chefs
- Outside activities that boost the hotel’s involvement in the community – such as the coordination of local tours and services, support for community events such as fashion festivals, eat street activities or culinary extravaganzas.
In Europe, AccorHotels has launched its AccorLocal mobile app as part of a ‘community hub’ strategy to immerse the brand with the daily lives of people – not just travellers or guests – but those who live or work locally. Using the app, time poor business travellers can order a variety of services from both the hotel and local merchants, such as shopkeepers, florists, bakers, fitness instructors and many others.
“Our hotels will be a place that makes life easier,” said Sebastien Bazin, CEO AccorHotels. “People may not need a room, but they may need a service.”
Corporate Traveller’s Jess Anscombe added that as part of the trend, the hotel rooms themselves also were becoming mini-hubs where locals could showcase their wares.
“As well as continuing to become more tech savvy and responsive, rooms are becoming more individualised, personalised and are being used by premium retailers to showcase the latest products and designs,” Jess said. “Think gorgeous throwrugs on couches from local designers, products in the mini-bar from local producers and strategically placed advertising and offers on the in-room ipad for guests"
“Travellers are expecting much more from their accommodation experiences and hotel operators are responding ... and at the same time becoming a social and economic hubs for local neighbourhoods.”