While casual travelers rely on Google search results and TripAdvisor reviews to inform their booking decisions, the growing sect of design-centric travelers are seeking out hotels and experiences as diverse and multidimensional as they are.
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Design-Centric Travelers are a globe-trotting sect of influencers, early adopters, and boundary pushers tied together by a shared interest in design, fashion, art, and culture. They typically have the inside scoop on the trendiest hotels and are always the first to know about unique cultural outings.
They prefer quality over quantity, opting for expertly curated products and services rather than being hit with innumerable options.
More than anything, they look to forge a deep connection with the destinations and hotels they book, and are willing to pay a bit extra for their experiences. Here are a few things Design-Centric Travelers look for in their travel:
They want accommodations that tell a story and pay attention to detail
“Design-Centric travelers look for hotels that are smart, ones with design languages that tell a story and exude a sense of place,” says Nate Storey, editor at Surface, a contemporary design magazine often found at design hotels.
“They care about the brand behind the furniture, the aesthetic of the restaurant, the art hanging on the walls. As for destinations, I think depth is an important characteristic. Places that have texture, an energetic mix of genre-pushing galleries, a vibrant restaurant scene, fashion boutiques in the forward guard, nightlife that feels fresh, world-class museums, and cultural fairs that show where we’re going next. The types of places that inspire you long after returning home.”
They want hotels to be a portal into a destination
More than the design sensibility within the physical walls of the hotel, design-centric travelers want to feel connected to the neighborhood around them. They like seeing hotels foster relationships with local merchants and look to hotels for guidance on what’s hip in the neighborhood.
They want to experience the city they travel in “like a local, not a tourist,” says Deanna Thomas, Director of Sales & Marketing at Hotel Americano in Manhattan, whose guests are primarily members of the creative class (designers, artists, fashionistas, tech folks, and the like).
“This traveler cares about the neighborhood they stay in.”
They crave authentic interactions with hotel staff and fellow guests
With all travelers increasingly looking for authenticity, the high-design crowd places especially seeks interactions that feel natural and unforced. They value hotel staff that “tells it like it is” instead of robotically reading off a script.
This also means choosing hotels that facilitate outings for guests to mingle in open, creative environments where they can forge connections, share ideas, and gain a few more stories to tell when they return home.
What it really comes down to:
“People love hotels. You get to be whoever you want when traveling, and the right hotel can enrich your experience in numerous ways—it’s your home away from home,” explains Storey.
“Some things are tangible. Is the service thoughtful? Does it have a sophisticated design? Is the food and beverage well executed? Does the staff have the pulse of the city? Style points matter. But ask any GM what the most difficult component of a hotel to perfect is, and they’ll tell you ‘vibe”. How do you cultivate it in an authentic way? The ones that do feel like a window into the destination. That creates a palpable connection to the hotel. You know it when you see it.”
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