Just a few years ago, the concept of “sustainable” hotel development and management referred purely to environmental sensitivity: respect for the natural environment and energy efficiency. Today, the meaning of this concept has greatly expanded and, while it still implies respect for the environment, it also encompasses the economic and social sustainability of the project as a whole. Moreover, these various pillars of sustainability are interconnected, and demand a broader, more holistic approach to planning that incorporates them from the get-go.
As a resort and hotel management consulting company, Arum Group has had ample opportunity to observe the profound changes that have occurred in the accommodation sector in recent years. We have also more recently witnessed how the pandemic has accelerated these changes even further, contributing to what now seems to be a total paradigm shift in the sector. In this post we reflect on some of the issues that must be taken into account to plan, execute and manage a project in this new context, and give your hotel development a guaranteed future.
1 – Integration with the destination
2 – Construction of hotels in partnership
3 – Hotel renovation as an opportunity
4 – Creativity in the hotel product mix
5 – Choosing the right hotel operator
6 – XXI Century hotel marketing
7 – An integrated leisure offer
Integration with the destination
In our years of conceptual planning of residential and tourism destinations, it has become clear that people who travel are looking for much more than just a place to spend the night. Whether driven by the need for comfort, rest and leisure or by business-related requirements, hotel clients seek a complete experience that meets their needs in a comprehensive way and is consistent with the overall hotel concept.
Thus, if someone is looking for a place to escape, they will expect to find a wellness, dining, and sport offer available to them commensurate with the hotel’s rating, theme, and location, whether that be in a snowy mountain resort or on an island beach. If a guest chooses an urban destination linked to a trip for work, he will also have certain comfort requirements, whether a spa, a fitness center, or another facility, but they have to be integrated into the experience in a way that doesn’t affect productivity.
An expert hotel consultant knows how to design proposals that seamlessly integrate concepts with their destinations and are in line with new market needs. When properly conceived, hotels can prop up a destination from an economic and social point of view, as hotel project management strengthens bonds with the local economy and guarantees long-term sustainability.
Construction of hotels in partnership
From the architectural plans of a hotel to its inauguration, hotel construction management involves multiple processes and professionals working in perfect harmony. Without this harmony, it is far more difficult to manage the bureaucracies, administrative requirements, and logistics of these complex projects, as well as meet deadlines and fixed commitments. Every new project should start with a comprehensive hotel business plan that encourages the input of investors and other stakeholders.
Once the initial planning phase is over and when funding is secured, work must be undertaken and led by the best professionals in hotel design, architecture and hotel interior design. They will give physical form to the established concept, which should be unique and differentiated to ensure that it stands the test of time. A hotel can be a standalone concept, or you can choose to partner with a name-brand operator who will put their stamp and character on your project from the beginning.
A sustainable approach in hotel construction also means respecting the environment by choosing a concept that can integrate with the hotel’s surroundings, and supporting construction with technological innovations for greater optimization of resources. The architectural and design concepts can also help in this regard, leveraging the strengths of the environment and even enhancing them.
Hotel renovation as an opportunity
In existing hotels, incessant renovation has become quite common as a methodology for responding to constant changes in demand. Top hotel operators have largely accepted this reality, and set a quick pace of adaptations that allow them to always remain at the forefront.
However, many companies in the sector, especially those that operate independently, cannot maintain this pace, and renovations or reforms are only greenlit when the establishment is already facing economic viability issues due to not having adapted to market changes. In this type of situation, once financing has been secured, it is worthwhile to have experts or professional consultants guide the process and turn this critical scenario into an opportunity for total transformation.
These experts can advise you on whether the hotel renovation can be limited or whether you should undertake a change of perspective and concept. If structural reforms are to be considered, it is a chance to work with experts in energy efficiency, giving the hotel an optimized use of resources in the long term. This is a choice that will have a positive effect on the environment, and also on the economic sustainability of your project as a whole.
In parallel, this is an ideal time to undertake a review of the branding and image of the hotel. This can later serve as a basis for choosing interior design specialists who are aligned with the image you want to project. Renewal and transformation are important themes today in the hotel asset management business. Major investors, whether independent or linked to existing hotel operator companies, are constantly looking for opportunities to transform older hotels into viable, modern projects.
Creativity in the hotel product mix
The hotel product has undergone a sea change over the last decade. The emergence of holiday rental formulas and low-cost airlines has multiplied the number of travelers and undermined the position of hotels as the only spaces for spending the night away from home. After some years of adaptation, both holiday rentals and hotels have been transformed.
The former have had to adopt a greater professionalism as they began to receive clients demanding more exclusive services. Hospitality development companies have created full in-house rental management teams responsible not only for managing bookings, but also for ensuring that guests receive the same attention they would in a traditional hotel.
Hotels, on the other hand, have also had to rethink their operations to shape a more careful, personalized offer in hotels and, in some cases, include hybrid products like villas or apartments with the feel of a hotel.
Products such as branded residences are another example of creativity in the hotel product mix, as operators have realized that many consumers prefer to use or own accommodations run by trusted brands. This formula remains popular because it works across the range of hotel ratings, allowing hotel concept development to responding to all types of consumers.
The business traveler market remains strong, even if hotel development services have had to make adaptations here as well. Hotels with a mixed-product offer, for example, have received a boost in recent months in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, as clients have sought safer and more private spaces without renouncing the services of a hotel.
Choosing the right hotel operator
Finding the right operator for your hotel project can be the key to successful hotel development. Your operator contract should include, of course, the full management of the accommodation services, but increasingly, they include the operation of complementary facilities as well, including spas, restaurants or shops.
You should seek expert advice in the choice of your operator from professionals who will help you find the appropriate partner for your project and objectives. Your consultants should take the potential of your destination into account during this process, as well as its projected growth in the medium term. Each operator has weaknesses and strengths, and each its own specialties. Some are geared towards business travel establishments; some excel in running hotels in exotic locations. The large catalog of possible partners demands you understand their history and match it with your business plan to perfectly adapt the agreement to your requirements.
XXI Century hotel marketing
The success of a hotel depends on ensuring long-term sales. And in order for this to happen in a highly competitive environment, transformed even further by apartment rental trends, the product must be powerful and coherent enough to attract visitors and achieve their loyalty. Sustainable hotel management must also, therefore, integrate new marketing and communication techniques designed to achieve this longevity through a comprehensive hotel marketing plan.
In the 21st Century, the promotion and advertising of a hotel should not be left to intermediaries, whether travel agencies or online booking platforms, but led from within with a blended approach combining the best of offline and online marketing. Events, public relations activities and corporate social responsibility must be combined with innovative techniques like Inbound Marketing, which attracts clients who match the hotel’s client profile and only sends them specific offers at the moment they are ready to receive them.
An integrated leisure offer
Finally, it is clear that hotel projects benefit greatly from being part of destinations with an interesting leisure offer that is constantly attracting visitors. The proximity to first-class sports facilities like golf or football pitches, tennis courts or ski resorts can do nothing but support the success of a hotel development, and hotel developers can help consolidate that offer through rational asset management.
Whether directly linked to the operator or not, these types of services attract temporary visitors and can be reinforced by other facilities like shops, spas or restaurants. Linking a hotel project with innovative concepts like Wellness or with the presence of a Michelin star establishment has brought important and positive returns to projects led by Arum Group.
In fact, hotel food and beverage strategy remains one of the most crucial factors for success, and has even increased in importance, as accommodations vie to distinguish themselves to potential customers. As an integral part of the overall business plan, it must contemplate a range of options designed to appeal to the hotel’s customer profiles, and be coherent with the overall concept. Arum Group, with a long history in hotel development, has had occasion to implement novel concepts throughout the past twenty years, and continues seeking innovative methods to support one of the most interesting leisure and travel sectors in the industry. In a dynamic context, remaining abreast of trends and anticipating customer needs is the only way to create sustainable hotel projects that are well integrated into their environment.