Beyond airbnb - hospitality keeps reinventing itself to create experiences

I had read a lot about Hilton Hotels’ bold move to digital customer experiences as well as direct online bookings that Hilton had initiated a couple of years ago, with their new CMO Geraldine Calpin. Their advertising campaign “stop clicking around” was probably the boldest marketing campaign they had ever seen. So I decided to go through the experience a couple of weeks ago in their new Frankfurt Airport hotel. Hilton Hotels Worldwide have changed to appeal to new generation customers and changing customer expectations. Excellent mobile booking process, great flexibility by staff in the hotel, great engagement with customers through the app. The digital does not yet go all the way through, for example digital key cards were not available even though it was one of the latest hotels and a feature widely communicated about. I was also very impressed by the digital experience and integration into the process of their Hilton Honors loyalty program. A smart way of moving their distribution strategy to direct bookings as well.

Hostels are another group in the hospitality arena which keep surprising and create special experiences.It becomes visible with the design and physical experience. But also the digital experiences have evolved. Hostelworld for example embarked on a whole digital transformation strategy, summarizing it with their claim “meet the new world”.. The focused on the customer experience as part of its digital transformation, “data and passion” as their previous CMO Ottokar Rosenberger called it. They updated their app with new features such as a ‘hostel notice board’ that lets users communicate with the hostel they will be staying at ahead of time and find out what events are coming up. They have recently introduced a translation feature and more. And they created a number of really cool videos to explain the new world of hostels, such as the one with Mariah Carey.

Going back to medieval times there is a new innovative hospitality concept creating an authentic experience: the new "albergo diffuso" concept, a "scattered hotel". The village is the hotel, and guests stay in the original houses, restored to meet travellers' requirements. It is a great example how new concepts aided by technology can create enormous opportunities, new jobs and economic revival as well as a sustainable hospitality approach. sishouses - holidays to remember do something similar, also within the medieval environment of a Borgo, but using places where people still live or have their holiday homes which they share with others.

Accor Hotel Group - in addition to their already diverse brands - have incorporated home sharing models such as one fine stay in their customer proposition and loyalty approach. Marriott hotels have created a number of different sub brands to appeal to an ever diverse customer group. Interesting times for travel and hospitality. They have also created a mobile app as a travel companion, including services such as mobile check in, destination advise and more. And they introduced a digital key.

The hospitality world keeps changing, and the outlook for customers means an ever improving customer experience, with a combination of digital and human. The scattered hotel model is in early stages and can open up a number of new opportunities. A model which could potentially help to revive industrial centres or other forgotten places?