Hotels continue to define novel approaches to further differentiate themselves from competitors and other properties. The concept behind this is to deliver one truly unique facet to the travel experience, thereby giving guests a common affirmation to draw upon for word-of-mouth, online reviews and return visits. Here are ten highly memorable and personal examples of properties that are accomplishing this objective. (I am sure that those reading this article can add more to the list, and feel free to do so!)
- The Guest Robes in Kimpton Properties. If you’ve seen one bathrobe, you’ve seen them all. Except for Kimpton Hotels. Imagine opening the closet to a zebra print and a tiger stripe gown. Whether you’re inclined to use it or not, it’s nevertheless an eye-turner. Fun and uniquely Kimpton.
- Avari Towers in Karachi. Here is a pizza delivery idea that’s dangerously good and coming out of Pakistan no less. At the Avari, in-room pizza is always free. Just call down and make your selection, give them the time on your digital clock and they guarantee it in 30 minutes. Oh yes, the mineral water in the room is free too. They also have a thorough fitness room, which you’ll need after indulging in too much dough.
- San Ysidro Ranch’s Pet Program. Not only is this luxurious Santa Barbara property known for its flawless service, rooms and F&B, but the property goes out of its way to welcome their furry friends. Upon arrival, a complete welcome kit is provided including Pawrier and a special gourmet menu (you can order a raw porterhouse steak!). Moreover, dogs-in-house are signified by special signage posted to the exterior of each of the suites.
- Wickaninnish Inn’s Weather Watch. Located on the remote western coast of Vancouver Island, the Wick delights with the thrilling experience of watching ocean waves crash onto the surrounding cliff and beach. The property even provides complete rain gear in each room (boots are picked up at the front desk, arranged according to size). This program is instrumental in driving revenue during the off-peak season.
- Hotel Berlin, Berlin’s Convention Central. Talk about immersing a property in a conference, this property rivals any in the world. Using video projectors, the entire hotel lobby can be transformed into a visual display to welcome a group. Plus, through a creative approach to F&B space, dining areas can be configured to proportion to the group’s size. I rarely see this flexibility and efficiency in a facility.
- The Hazelton Hotel’s Private Screening Room. Want to be a movie mogul for the night? Or, want a party that makes your guests feel like one? This Toronto property has a private screening room with seating for up to 25 in decadent comfort. Yes, in-house guests can book it to watch their favorite football game, too. And having one of the finest restaurants in the city cater your food certainly helps.
- Library Collection’s In-House Club Room. Guests to these boutique hotels are treated to complimentary breakfast, mid-afternoon tea, newspapers, WiFi and a range of amenities that the typical hotels would levy surcharges. All of this available in Midtown Manhattan, which makes it even more incredible. The results are clear: happy guests and terrific TripAdvisor ratings.
- Chateau Frontenac’s Canine Ambassador. It is hard for most guests to resist engaging in conversation about Santol, a Labrador/Bernese cross merrily stationed in this Quebec City landmark property every afternoon. The success of this program ensures a high volume of social media traffic as well as bestowing a positive memory to the hotel.
- Butler Service. I have experienced this in several hotels in Asia and Europe. While not something that would be consistent with most property’s target audience, positioning or cost structure, the service is an automatic differentiator insofar as the ultimate in client service. Building hotel-guest rapport is always a challenge and face-to-face conversations are one of the best ways to this end. In this regard, a butler is like having a hotel manager at your disposal 24/7.
- Hotel Monaco’s Goldfish. It is fitting to begin and end this article with Kimpton properties. When a goldfish (in a bowl, of course) arrives in the room of a solo guest, the idea is to make them feel less lonely. The reality is that this diversion is fun, cost effective and has lucrative social media opportunities.
YOUR PROPERTY HERE! Challenge your team to come up with one exceptional differentiator and execute it throughout your property. It doesn’t have to be big, but it most certainly has to be unique.