You probably know by now, that we at Urbanground love working with hotels and for hotels and we follow closely what is happening in that sector.
For a very long time hotels had an established and clear cut business model – to offer a home away from home to travelers and vacationers. The hotel experience was defined by abundant and delicious breakfasts, soft mattresses and towels and extra amenities like swimming pools and gyms.
This year thousands of hotels were forced to do the unthinkable: close their doors for the first time since opening, and mind you, many of those doors were not equipped to be locked and barred, there had been simply no necessity for that ever before: hotels were welcome sanctuaries open 24/7 365 days a year.
The services offered in the hospitality business have also gone through quite a bit of evolution in recent decades. It seems ages ago when high-speed WIFI at hotels was a top of the line service and luxury offered to the lucky few, late checkout – an unexpected treat and a private butler to help you navigate the foreign city – an extravagant experience if you were in the mood to be pampered in style. Hotel experiences nowadays feature Michelin-star restaurants, top notch live performance music venues, spa procedures worthy of celebrities and customized in-house haute couture fashion shows tailored to the customer.
But this year the customers were forced to stay home.
As the world braced itself for a second wave of confinement and mobility restrictions due to Covid-19 this autumn three distinct groups were formed in the hotel business. The first group includes those who decided to pretend nothing is happening; the second: those who chose to close until better times came along; and the third group comprises of those few who decided to re-group, re-invent themselves, fight the good fight and stay open, turning to a very unlikely customer – their next -door neighbours!
Unprecedented times call for unprecedented measures: hotel management went brain storming for special services targetting those living nearby: sure they sleep in their own beds at night, but the rest of the day they are fully prone to temptation of exquisite services tailored normally for executives and businessman that you can now take home. Here are some of them:
You can´t go on vacation because of mobility restrictions? Come stay with us, next door! No travel, no hassle, just a couple of days of hotel-class pampering and comforts. Change airs, as it is, relax and recharge. Easy said, easy done. I am not sure which is the first hotel that I saw offering a ¨stay-cation¨, but it is difficult to find one now that doesn´t offer some variety of such a vacation for anybody needing a getaway in the city, your city.
Can´t go to the office, too many of you at home – come work with us! South Place Hotel in London was quick to invite working folk back to its premises in September introducing the South Place Study Program – your own private office 9am to 6pm Monday to Friday with unlimitted coffee and biscuits and access to the gym and treatment rooms. Many hotels followed suit as it became obvious ¨that thing¨ wasn´t going away any time soon and offices at more and more companies became a off-limits zone.
Kids and Care
From 50% off on the kids rooms and family cinema screenings to wreath and mocktails matserclasses hotels are buzzing with ideas to entertain the little ones at all cost. For example, Hotel Cafe Royal is offering a complimentary children´s playroom and cinema 11am to 5pm every day with programmed actrivities on Saturday hosted by a professional child entertainer. Lightening the load on the parents has become an urgent focus in hotel experience, whether you are actually staying at the hotel not .
Thanksgiving and Christmas Dinner
Hotel Arts sold out its Thanksgiving dinner months in advance and is now offering Christmas Dinner to go as well. Why labour for hours on end at the stove when you can take home chef-grade dinner your family and guests will love?
Call and Collect
When it comes to food and drinks the gastronomic offer at hotels gets even better. Champagne and pastries from your next-door hotel on a lazy Wednesday night? Why not? As governments struggle to keep the hospitality business afloat (some struggle more, some struggle less in all fairness) many restaurants have decided to remain closed depriving patrons of their habitual dinner or two out on the town. Many hotels are helping alliviate this inconvenience offering some variety of take out of their signature dishes and wines thus keeping their establishments running and staff employed. Admirable too, isn´t it?
Online shopping is no longer the realm of big retail companies only. Hotels have gotten in on the game too – opening online boutique shops selling luxury gifts, bathrobes, candles, books and culinary experiences and even Custom Monopoly Boards ( check out Mrs Tea´s at Ashford Castle).
While the mood and the aproach differ from country to country the focus of all these efforts to keep providing innovative services is one: keep the customers coming and maybe get few new customers in the process as well. Hotels are finding ways to create interesting proposals catering equally to neighbours and visitors. And this is only the beginning.
So if you are in the mood for some luxury pampering check out the hotels around your city. they may surprise you!