In Australia, domestic travel is on the rise. A new generation of luxury travellers favour spending on experiences over assets and this is fuelling the travel market. As the booming AirBnB business offers less expensive but potentially isolating accommodation options, guests are turning to hotels with the expectation of a new kind of experience designed around not just comfort but community.

In response to this hoteliers are creating community around a variety of social spaces. Hoteliers are thoughtfully designing the entire customer journey to capture the hearts of discerning travellers; from first contact when shopping around, to the hotel experience, to sharing with friends via word of mouth and social.

How do hoteliers create an easy and enjoyable experience for the entire customer journey? They work on all of the six phases of the hotel customer journey — Research & Planning, Shopping, Booking, Pre-Travel, The Stay, and Post Stay.

Digital Experience —the start and the end of the journey.

We know the first half of a guest’s experience with your hotel from research & planning, shopping and booking — will be online. 

From review sites, to social media and their website, hoteliers ensure these critical touchpoints are easy and enjoyable. Added to this we know travel is very much a part of one’s own personal “brand” — how will your hotel be shared socially by your guest? Have you made it easy for them to share positive and “instagrammable” moments in your hotel?

Hotel Stays — Comfort, Community and Certainty.

From the moment a guest walks through your doors, the experience of your hotel’s culture and vision will be apparent. This includes thoughtfully engaging all the senses, through lighting, acoustics, scent, colour, and customer flow. 

Hotels are increasingly answering the very human need of belonging through social spaces, from the entry experience, to restaurants, cafes and bars, reading rooms, spas, gyms and of course, rooms. Service design, which includes examining and refining every step of the customer journey to deliver a consistent brand experience, is also critical to success.

“… Customers of hotels that get the journey right may be 61 percent more willing to recommend than customers of hotels that merely focus on touchpoints.”

—McKinsey Insights Customer experience: New capabilities, new audiences, new opportunities. Number 2, June 2017

A unique experience in every room.

I recently worked on a very unique hotel project. The Collectionist Hotel, in Camperdown in Sydney, was the brain child of architect Andrew Cliffe from the World is Round, collaborating with Yasmine Ghoniem and Katy Svalbe of Amber Road, Matt Sheargold and Susie Willis of design firm Willis Sheargold, and Lily Goodwin and Josh Cain of Pattern Studio.

By assigning the design and unique artwork to several well-known Sydney artists, each room achieved a personality of its own. Artists included myself, Matt Dampney, Dion Horstman, Kane Skennar, Brooklyn Whelen, Rose Ashton, Brett Chan, Daimon Downey, Nick Hernandez and Dave Homer.

Over the coming months, I will be looking into these aspects of hospitality design through a series of articles. I am always looking to connect with others in the hospitality community, so please don’t hesitate to shoot me a message with your thoughts.