The lifestyle segment transforms guest expectations into travel experiences.

By Bill Swank, Jr. | President, Development & Construction

The lodging industry not that long ago was fixated on the demographic shift to attract Millennials, whose tastes and behaviors differ from their boomer parents. Millennials cared more about one-of-a-kind experiences than Boomers. To accommodate this shift in mindset, the major hotel brands ditched the bland, one-design-fits-all approach in lobbies and guestrooms from coast to coast.

Instead, lobbies transformed from simple seating areas just off the front desk into active social hubs. They became more like quirky living rooms with design flair to encourage “Instagrammable” moments, as well as create an environment where guests want to socialize. Interior décor became more geographically inspired and authentic, as lodging companies began emphasizing local design connections and materials in order to differentiate from competitors that were slow to adopt boutique concepts.

However, as the hotel industry shifted toward satisfying the needs and desires of the Millennials, something more important happened: lodging design and renovation trends evolved to create more positive guest experiences for Generation Z, Millennials, Generation X and the Baby Boomers alike.

Moxy Hotel by Marriott Tempe AZMillennial is a mindset, not just an age group.

Soon after opening our Moxy Hotel by Marriott in Tempe, Arizona, I noticed a couple in their 70’s checking in at around 11:30 p.m. on a Friday night. The lobby was active, filled with guests socializing at the bar and in the living room. It was late, but the couple put their bags in their guestroom and returned to the lobby to join in on the social vibe.

While the Moxy brand was not necessarily developed to serve this type of guest (older demographic, not active on social media, etc.), this couple took full advantage of what it had to offer. In fact, they loved checking-in at the bar, getting their free cocktails, and seeing so much energy in the lobby.

It became clear that this new lifestyle brand was also attractive to any demographic age group with the Millennial mindset of seeking out interesting design and locally-driven artistic touches.Through a design mandate initially driven by the desire to satisfy Millennials, hotel owners and designers have been forced to shift focus onto creating distinctive guest experiences across all hotels and at all price points.

Community spaces cultivate a new travel experience.

The wonderful thing about travel is the opportunity to enjoy new experiences in different places. The major brands in the mid-tier and upscale tier have fully embraced boutique design concepts with the goal of standing out from the crowd and grabbing more market share.

There has been a huge shift away from well-defined, divided spaces in lobbies and on to floor plans that open up the layout so that function can meet interaction. Seamlessly, at the Moxy Tempe, the bar serves as the check-in that surprises guests with delight. The bar area flows into surrounding social hubs where strangers are encouraged by design to come together and share in their travel adventures.

These spaces, when executed well, draw inspiration from the neighborhood and city, enhancing the community atmosphere and giving each branded hotel a unique design element. The key in this new immersive styling trend is to guide the guest through a series of unique experiences with an authentic feel that encourages them to linger and participate, thus making them part of the hotel scene. When an amazing interior design encourages guests to post their spontaneous experiences to social media, then you have something special that helps drive the financial success of the hotel.

Long gone are the days of the prototype guestroom and lobby that was stamped out by hotels fixated on brand standards over the value of travel experiences.

Exceed guest expectations through innovative design.

The lifestyle hotels have been a huge influence upon the major hotel brands to create more contextual or authentic environments to reflect the place in which it is located.

This trend is not only good for the Millennials, but for all generations that travel for business or pleasure. It is simply good business to interpret a hotels context with a design that recognizes increasingly sophisticated expectations. Whatever the lodging segment, the traveling public expects an experience more special than another night at a cookie-cutter hotel brand.

About Bill Swank, Jr.

A principal of his own hotel development firm since 1985, Bill joined Twenty Four Seven Hotels as a partner bringing his tremendous background in hotel development and construction management. As President of Design and Construction his primary responsibility is to coordinate and direct all company new build and renovation projects.

Bill’s entire professional career has been spent in land acquisition, entitlement, project administration, finance, asset management, and franchising. Among his notable projects was the first Marriott Residence Inn to open in Mexico in the coastal resort of Bajamar, which he accomplished via an international partnership with Grupo Frisa, one of Mexico’s largest commercial developers.

Bill earned his business degree from the University of Southern California, and a professional certification in Real Estate, Development, and Hotel Investment from Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration.

About Twenty Four Seven Hotels

Twenty Four Seven Hotels specializes in providing hotel management, investment and development for upscale brand select-service and lifestyle hotels segments in the Western U.S. We offer a full spectrum of services in Hospitality Management, Hotel Investment, Hotel Design & Construction and Hotel Asset Management.

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