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This week we launched our latest report in our Skift Trends series, Evolution of Local in Hospitality in 2015.
Below is an extract. Get the full report here to get ahead of this trend.
Over the last two years, many of the legacy international hospitality companies have acquired or developed niche lifestyle hotel brands to cater to the surge of interest for a more local, design-conscious lodging experience. The list of brands is extensive, and they fall into two categories: new verticals within a parent brand, or autonomous members of a “soft brand” that share the parent brand’s sales, marketing and distribution channels.
Hyatt Centric is an example of the former. In April, the new Hyatt Centric The Loop Chicago was the first hotel in the portfolio to open, with Hyatt Centric South Beach following in May. The “Centric” moniker refers to the brand mission to provide guests with a central location offering quick access to the heart of a destination. This positioning is somewhat unique among the stable of new lifestyle brands because the focus is slanted more toward urban connectivity versus any of the recent trends—which are not really trends any longer—revolving around “design/boutique” hotels or “Millennial” hotel brands.
The next generation of hotel brand positioning like Centric is evolving beyond that to focus on seamless integration with the local community. Modern design and social spaces are still paramount for Hyatt’s new flag because that is expected today, but with Centric in particular, the brand messaging promotes the hotels as destination hubs rather than destination hotels.
“The guest experience at Hyatt Centric is designed to be simple to help what we call ‘Modern Explorers’ navigate the destination,” says Kristine Rose, VP of brands, Hyatt. “Our guests are very curious. They’re looking for us to be more modern, meaning more in tune with their expectations, and more central in locations to help them get out and explore.”
For example, the lobbies are not necessarily designed to be large social living rooms. Smaller in scope, the lobbies feature areas defined as “The Corner” with books and magazines that provide insight into the local destination. They’re purpose-built mostly for the hotel guests to give them a basecamp to prepare for their journey into the city.
The bars, meanwhile, are a primary focus for Centric where guests can mingle with locals. Rose says Hyatt Centric is actively working to attract locals, and their guests prioritize that type of space to have a drink or two before venturing out into the destination, and for when they return.
Based on Centric’s market research, the brand is developing materials that showcase local experiences for people who are time constrained. Still in development, they will be structured in different time allotments from two hours to half a day, and possibly more. The research also points to three types of travel behaviors today. They’re described as Planners, who research the destination intensively pre-trip; Wish-Listers, who want to experience a destination’s iconic activities; and Wanderers, who are completely spontaneous without specific itineraries. Rose says these new destination materials are geared mostly for the Wish-Listers, along with Wanderers to a lesser degree.
“With Hyatt Centric, we’re not really trying to create the hot spot where everyone can come in and hang out and drink coffee in the lobby,” says Rose. “We’re that central hub to help prepare people to discover new things.”