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Leading hospitality brand guru David Keen of QUO addressed the HICAP Hong Kong conference last week on the topic of hotel innovation. We are printing his views on what hotels are no longer objects of desire and what needs to change -
"We have to stop doing ordinary. Predictable hotels are no longer desirable," QUO CEO David Keen told delegates at HICAP today.
In the plenary session to Asia Pacific's hotel investment community, Keen announced the results of QUO's recent survey, which found that consumers both desire and say they will pay more for innovative hotels.
"The vast majority of guests are looking for change, they crave innovation. And they are willing to pay more for it," he announced.
A follow-up to his earlier presentation at HICAP Update in April, the survey results supported his belief that the hospitality industry requires a new, bold and defining approach to brand development.
He reminded delegates how much the world has changed in the last 25 years: from the birth of the Internet to 24/7 mobile connectivity; from the Berlin Wall coming down to Germany as a core member of a united Europe.
Yet, despite all the change around us, the standard hotel room remains the same as it was three decades ago. As the QUO survey proved, however, guests don't want this tried and tested "standard."
He explained that the survey presented consumers with three different hotels: two forward-thinking options ("Hotel A" and "Hotel B") and one control ("Hotel C"), a standard four-star property. The results demonstrated a clear preference for Hotel A, with it scoring highly on both innovation ("new and different") and relevance ("for someone like me").
In contrast, the control, Hotel C, scored low on innovation and desirability, with just 4% of respondents saying it was for "someone like me."
Reaction to Hotel B was less clear-cut. While considered highly innovative, it scored low on relevance, and just 6% of respondents were interested in staying there.
"Hotel B's minimalist aesthetic was polarizing. It just didn't resonate," Keen explained. He said the message was clear that innovation is only successful if it forms an emotional connection with the guest.
Keen concluded that forging this emotional connection and driving desire is the key to creating and sustaining asset value growth.
"We cannot sacrifice man's animal need for comfort and security," he said. "The hotel industry needs to change. It needs vision. But your target must be desire in order to grow asset value."