Research by Barclaycard in May 2017 showed that 34% of people now prefer to spend money on experiences rather than objects. This is good news for hotels and spas, where the effects of a wellbeing getaway last long after you’ve checked out, but to ensure we are at the forefront of knowledge when it comes to the experience industry, we attended this fascinating conference held by the Hotel Marketing Association. With an expert panel of industry insiders, we were able to pick their creative brains on how hotels and spas can tap into this growing trend.
With a keynote speech hosted by James Wallman, author of ‘Stuffocation: Living More with Less’, Spa PR learnt about how the social landscape of objects and experiences is changing.
In 2018, it seems that the fleeting thrill of material objects is finally wearing off. Whereas you once achieved serious kudos by flashing an expensive watch or a fast car, people are now more interested in hearing where you’ve been and what you’ve done. Unusual experiences, James argued, are the new social currency. They help us to form memories and stories, stories that can help us to make connections and conversations with others. Experiences also add to who we are as individuals in a way that material objects can’t – no matter how good that watch makes you feel.
With more and more people looking to spend their money on making memories, enjoying life and feeding their souls with wellness, the hotel industry should be ready to impress. So how can hoteliers deliver a real experience in 2018?
- Be an innovator
To transform a ‘hotel stay’ into an ‘experience’, hoteliers should be ready to do something that other hotels aren’t. It doesn’t need to be grand – a small, yet memorable gesture will help you to stick in guests’ minds. Word of mouth is the best marketing tool, so give your guests a story to tell once they’ve checked out!
- Sell the experience
It doesn’t always suffice to tell guests about your new afternoon tea menu, so why not explain to them what kind of experience they would have if they were to try it? Instead of sharing an image of your signature meal on social media, share a video of your Maître d’ describing the dish and placing it in front of an eager diner. This gives future guests a true glimpse into the delights they’ll experience during their visit.
- Make guests feel good
Capture the attention of potential guests by letting them know how your hotel can make them feel good. How will that new aromatherapy massage make them feel? Will they carry the botanical scents around with them all day, calm, happy and relaxed with a soft carpet beneath their feet? People often latch on to the small details of a getaway, so add little extras that remind guests how lovely it is to stay at your hotel.
- Give people the opportunity to be present
In an age where we’re always connected, checking emails or scrolling through Instagram, one of the best escapes of all is to be cut off. This explains the meteoric rise of Escape Rooms: people become so engrossed in solving clues and beating the clock, they completely forget about life’s obligations and begin really enjoying themselves. It’s a feeling people want to have again and again. Could your hotel offer an experience that keeps guests so occupied, they stop being mindful and start having fun?
- Be a ‘re-innovator’
Real innovation can prove tricky, but re-innovating something can be just as memorable for guests. Put a new spin on old favourites to make an experience your own. Following your cocktail masterclass, why not run a competition whereby the most creative cocktail is put on the menu for a month, named after its creator? This was successful at The Arch in London, where General Manager Ray Goertz revealed that ‘The James’ was currently on the menu.