New research shows the innovative ways the Aussie hotel industry is fighting back against disruptors.
After coping years of flack from new players such as Airbnb, hoteliers now have proof that there’s nothing ‘old world’ about choosing to book with a hotel.
The report, titled The Innovation revolution transforming Australia’s hotel industry, was undertaken by Tourism Accommodation Australia (TAA) and documents the expansion and transformation of our accommodation sector.
Singling out trends such as localism, individualism, art and sustainability, the report comes as the sector is undergoing its largest-ever expansion.
And not just in terms of new builds, although, there are plenty of those on the cards, with 200 new hotels coming to Australia before 2025.
The report also singles out the changing face of hotels, including the introduction of new lifestyle brands, new tech, fresh design concepts, and wellness options, just to name a few.
“The biggest trends influencing the new hotel design include an emphasis on localism, community, individualism, art and sustainability,” said TAA CEO, Carol Giuseppi.
“Hotels are being designed to complement the local landscape, with street art, edgy design and a focus on local produce on restaurant, bar and function menus.”
Giuseppi said the transformation is driven by changes in travellers demands, particularly in the millennial generation.
“Not only are most Australian hotels offering at least some level of free Wifi, but connection speeds are faster and the new breed of hotels are offering casting capability to their in-room screens,” she said.
“Keyless entry to rooms has been introduced and increasingly guests will be able to select their specific room type in advance.”
Here’s a summary of the major innovations identified in the TAA report:
New lifestyle brands introducing new concepts
Boutique international brands like Aloft & the Autograph Collection (Marriott), Curio (Hilton), MGallery (Accor), Indigo (IHG), and TRYP (Wyndham) and Ovolo Hotels have joined Australian designer brands like QT, Art Series and Veriu.
The technology revolution – from VR design to keyless entry
New technology, from virtual reality to artificial intelligence, is increasingly intertwined in the future of hotel development and design.
In many hotels the reception desk has been replaced by multi-purpose welcome areas with iPad check-in – or no check in at all. Personal mobile technology is also allowing guests the capability to pre-select rooms and services.
The Lobby/Living Space Revolution
Functional lobby and reception areas are being transformed into vibrant, communal ‘living’ spaces.
Interactive cafes and delis are now common, flowing across the lobby, along with plentiful lounges, re-charging ports, TV screens and private areas for friends/colleagues to catch up over a coffee or glass of wine.
Design emphasis moves from global to local, uniformity to individuality
The new generation of hotels has attracted a new generation of designers, with the licence to make a statement with their designs.
From prime city locations to pristine resort locations, hotel design today is aimed at complementing the landscape, becoming an integral component of the local area.
Small equals big in the design revolution
Through innovation in design, many of the new hotels being launched feature smaller, more functional bedrooms, with wall-mounted TVs doing away with the need for large cabinetry.
Power and USB points are now bed-side to support guests using technology from their beds, while mobile desks are replacing traditional work-desks.
Other innovations include:
- Co-working spaces: hotels are increasingly being designed to cater for mobile workers. Singapore-based Next Story Group will launch its first combined co-working space and hotel brand called Kafnu in Sydney’s Alexandria in the next year
- Going natural: hotel designers are increasingly incorporating natural design elements into hotels with vertical hydroponic gardens, indoor waterfalls, multilevel terraces and rustic wooden furnishings enabling guests to connect with nature
- Hotel restaurants are being redesigned to provide more distinctive local experiences, with a focus on regional produce, wines and craft beers
- With the technological and communications revolution has come a dramatic transformation of hotel websites in Australia, with individual hotel and brand websites upgrading the booking process, content, and hotel and destination information
- Wellness options such as yoga rooms, 24-hour gyms, and health-conscious menus
“Never before has the Australian hotel industry seen such cutting-edge innovation that is not only meeting changing travel trends, but in many cases anticipating them as well,” Giuseppi concluded.