In this hyper-connected world, travelers of all ages and socio-economic demographics are seeking a deeper connection with the destinations they visit. One of the major reasons for this demand is that guests are arriving to hotels with a wealth of information previously sourced through online research.

Innovative hotel brands are answering that demand by introducing guests to a diverse network of people and places in their local community,  promoting themselves as a “travel experience,” versus merely a place to sleep, to a growing range of travelers defining who they are by where they stay.

While hotels have always been gateways to a destination, the boutique/design/lifestyle hotel surge in the late 20th century elevated the urban hotel into a destination in and of itself. The idea of a neighborhood hotel acting as a community portal with a strong local following became a market differentiator for an exciting batch of new hotel brands.

Within the last decade, the large global hotel brands have jumped on the trend, and there’s also a new wave of mid-market brands reimagining the localism trend for middle income brackets and secondary markets. Now, throughout the hospitality industry, there’s widespread realization that delivering a more immersive, layered travel experience for today’s more educated and connected traveler is, if not a necessity, a competitive advantage.

While objective ROI is difficult to establish in terms of increased bookings and ADR, all of the hotel professionals quoted in this report state clearly that demand is continuing to grow across all market segments. In their words, the ROI for creating local, destination-specific travel experiences revolves around remaining relevant in order to attract the loyalty of the next generation traveler.

Savvy hotel brands are becoming more local in a variety of ways. Some of the themes examined in our  latest Skift Trends Report include:

  • Hotels are partnering with area small businesses patronized by local residents to create a deeper, more personal relationship with a community.
  • Hotels are hosting and promoting more special events, on and off property.
  • Hotels are communicating local travel experiences through sophisticated social media strategies and robust blogs.

For more examples and strategies, get our new in-depth report: “The Rise of Local in Hospitality.” This report will show the variety of ways that hotels are connecting with their communities to bring together guests and residents in the pursuit of localism.

Greg Oates covers hospitality trends and next generation hotels. He has participated in 1,000+ hotel site inspections in over 50 countries.

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Photo Credit: 21c Museum Hotel in Bentonville, Ark. Photo courtesy 21c Hotels