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There are a huge variety of reasons why people visit and check into hotels – with an even bigger variety of different hotels available for them to choose from. As an industry, the world of hotels is one which is underpinned by hospitality and the service industry, with consumers choosing to stay in hotels for their holidays, for staycations, for business trips and even just for one-off treats.
Accommodation and staying somewhere new forms a huge part of the travel and holiday industry and is one of the biggest features included in the provision of any package holiday. While sites like Airbnb are threatening the status and demand of hotels by presenting consumers with home-from-home style accommodation which in many ways offers more freedom than a hotel room, the beauty and value of hotels still exists thanks to the convenience and ease of simply checking into a room which has everything you need and is serviced and cleaned to a high finish.
That’s not to say that every hotel in the industry is high end – in fact, entire entertainment programmes and series’ exist to explore the best and worst hotels in specific areas, identifying those which are best for locals, tourists, families and couples. A great hotel is a treat to stay in – a bad hotel provides an opportunity for entertainment and will usually be underpinned by a series of reviews which outline and explore every aspect and area of the hotel.
The evolution of the hotel industry
The hotel industry boasts a long history, though the hotels as we recognise them today have only been around for a few centuries. The earliest examples of the industry in action can be viewed more as hospitality offerings than hotels, where establishments and structures were erected for travellers to use as they moved between spaces – many offering beds and occasionally food as well.
In the 17th century, inns became much more commonplace, offering travellers a place to stay and food, as well as support in checking on their horses and changing tyres on their coaches where necessary. These tended to serve coaches and private travellers, though as the clientele became more upmarket and the wealthier began to travel more, those inns which previously offered a very standard level of accommodation upgraded their offering to something more luxurious and coveted – and which cost more.
1792 was the year that the City Hotel opened in New York, sparking the dawn of the public hotel industry as we know it today. In 1829 another hotel was opened in Boston and this was the first to use indoor plumbing and offer consumers an experience which included indoor toilets and baths, and also a reception area through which to check in and air any comments or complaints. This followed the rise in commercial and leisure travel which also occurred in the 1820’s, and which finally gave the average consumer an opportunity to explore and travel to areas which they previously may not have been able to reach.
By the middle of the 1900’s, the world of hotels and travel accommodation had grown to represent much more of a lucrative industry – with people becoming more interested in the potential of the hotel industry as an opportunity for investment and development, while hotel companies themselves continued to look for ways of elevating the consumer experience both in booking and staying in their hotel.
Digitalisation in the hotel industry
The rise in the internet and computing technology has had a huge impact on the hotel industry over the years, as it is this which finally gives hotels a platform on which to advertise their accommodation and deals to captive audiences; creating package deals and partnerships with similar types of businesses, and benefitting from the provision of visually led social sites which allows them to showcase the best parts of their hotels to the market.
Digitalisation has also given hotels themselves a chance to own their own websites and make sure that their site is listed on top hotel comparison and reviews sites like TripAdvisor and Hotel Bookings – both of which are designed to allow consumers to view the best rated hotels in a specific destination according to budget and other areas of focus such as extra facilities required.
Other examples of digitalisation in the hotel industry include:
- Online booking and comparison sites
- Hotel room televisions and other technologies which are designed to elevate the user experience
- Check in tablets and online check in provisions
- The rise in automated services such as the wake up call and hotel phone alarm clock
- Robots being used as reception and cleaning staff
- Voice activated lights and electronic devices in a hotel room
Top providers in the hotel industry
One thing that many consumers don’t realise is that so many of our favourite hotels are actually operated by large parent organisations which present themselves under a series of different brand names and identities. While there are some top budget hotel chains like the Travelodge and Premier Inn hotels which use their branding and recognisable logo to draw in consumers who want that affordable but comfortable service, many of the best high end hotels exist under their own individual name – and are only owned by a large parent company on a very top line level.
An example of this is the Grosvenor House Hotel on Park Lane in London. Despite being called the Grosvenor House Hotel by everyone who visits it and talks about it, it is in fact one of a series of hotels owned and operated by the Marriott Hotels brand. In this case, it is as if the Marriott name would be considered a way of cheapening the unique experience that consumers go to the Grosvenor and other similar hotels for, and so the hotel immediately steers clear of associating itself with a chain brand in order to retain their individuality.
When it comes to those cheaper hotel names which seem to appear in every city and large town, we tend to find that quality can again vary, not only across hotels of the same brand name but also across those different brands which tend to be grouped together and yet offer very different experiences. Holiday Inn for example is often considered one of the cheapest options, while the Premier Inn brand is a little more premium. As many consumers state in their reviews of these kinds of hotels, you always know what you are getting and that makes them consistent and reliable.
Some of the other top names in the hotel industry include:
- InterContinental Hotels
- JW Marriott
- Best Western
- Hilton Hotels
- Renaissance Hotels and Resorts
- Sofitel Hotels and Resorts
- Sheraton Hotels and Resorts
- Radisson Hotels and Resorts
You will notice on this list that a series of the top names in the industry consider themselves providers of both hotels and resorts. More than anything, this name simply acknowledges the expansion of the hotel industry into something which is even more widely recognised in terms of its offerings, encompassing the full experience of a resort as well as the standard hotel package.
Trends in the hotels industry
One of the biggest trends which is changing the way that consumers interact with hotels is the rise and evolution of different hotel facilities – adapting hotel lobbies and communal spaces, and turning them from merely functional spaces into the kinds of areas where consumers might choose to socialise and spend time during the day times and evenings. One of the most notable developments here is in the rise of hotel bars and the way that these bar spaces are becoming elevated from mere drinking hotels to much more elegant and stylish spaces – with some of the most high end hotel bars offering full table service experiences, high quality cocktails, and comfortable surroundings perfect for an evening drink. Hotel restaurants have also seen huge renovations in recent years, with some of the top hotels in major cities like London now benefitting from renowned Chef’s and upmarket brand names in order to turn their hotels into a destination which is as renowned for its high quality facilities and services at is if for the provision of comfortable hotel rooms and beds. What this means for the hotel industry is that they are able to expand not only their offering to captive consumers who have booked room with them, but also that they can expand their marketing and advertising methods and create more of an experience for consumers to show interest in and book as they wish.
Another advancement in the hotel industry which links with the previous growth of hotel bars and restaurants relates to the development of hotels as resorts – offering guests access to facilities and entertainment provisions such as swimming pools, sports and fitness centres, gyms, spas and more. All of these extras are designed to add the air of luxury that consumers are consistently looking for in a modern hotel stay – with some of the most popular providers in the industry being those which takes these extras and turn them into unique experiential elements to the stay. Alongside this, it is also worth noting the rising demands of consumers in terms of the experience and level of customer service that they expect to get in hotels. We are steadily seeing more and more hotels offer extra levels of service to consumers, with examples including the concierge service on offer across high end hotels and resorts, the use of the additional facilities as explored above, classes and spa treatments for those willing to pay for them, the inclusion of food and drink as part of a package deal, and even taxi services to and from local destinations and attractions.
One of the most overwhelming trends in recent years has been the rise in hotels which seem to defy the odds and create experiences which are entirely unique and stand out from their competition. Some of the best examples of these new trends in the hotel world include destinations and areas which were previously unexplored and which now provide consumers with a chance to see sites and places which they other wouldn’t have – for example the Arctic and the Fjords of Norway and Iceland – and hotel resorts set on private deserted islands and in the middle of jungles, again playing on the concept of a place which consumers may not otherwise be able to experience. Other great examples include treehouse hotels which are set high in the branches of trees, hotels located on boats which can be docked or can sail around, and even hotels which have been built under the ocean to provide consumers with a truly unique experience of looking up through a glass ceiling at the ocean beyond.
And then we have the rise in eco-hotels and those hotels which are designed to be completely environmentally friendly both in their construction and the way that they operate. These hotels are still relatively new concepts, with developers still today finding new ways of making their ideas and visions come to life in the most eco-friendly way possible – however, for the most part they are seeing a vast surge of popularity and thus are seeing future books filling up fast as consumers look for ways to decrease their environmental footprint while still enjoying the luxury of a hotel stay.
The modern market is becoming increasingly propped up by consumers who are demanding more in terms of experiences, luxury, and value for money deals. As is the case across so many industries, consumers want to be able to enjoy the high quality experiences they crave without paying through the roof for them – a concept which makes online comparison and booking sites more popular than ever as consumers turn to these sites to ascertain the best discounts available across different destinations at different times of the year; identifying the best packages to invest in, and outlining any additional requirements that they need to factor in to their booking.
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