Large hospitality brands are seeking ways to extend their reach, appealing to new audiences and monetising available assets, to create luxury experiential vacations that draw-in the more discerning traveller.
This poses the question, can other ‘land-rich’ brands also tap into that potential?
Making the most of what you have, and then some.
Luxury hotels and resorts spend a lot of time, energy and money on creating a brand that people buy into. Their value propositions are carefully considered and communicated beautifully to eager holiday makers, who are keen to immerse themselves in the experiences resorts can provide; enthusiastically showing off their experiences and stories almost instantly on social media, advocates for the brands hosting them.
Each brand has its own carefully orchestrated offering that speaks to consumers at a base emotional level. So adding a new offering to the mix needs to be done with sensitivity, authenticity and a great deal of thought to get it right. This list of some of the more unusual UK hotels by The Hotel Guru shows how a brand story can be intertwined with the style of accommodation on offer.
Why lux lodges?
Not every venue has a castle or windmill to weave a story around. This is where the enjoyment of the location itself needs to come into play. Experiential lodging is a phenomenon that has been growing throughout the hospitality industry for some time. Glamping came onto the scene 12 years ago and has reached some dizzying heights from Canada to Cambodia as this Rob Report blog outlines.
As luxury as glamping is, many travellers want something a little more comfortable, but that still retains the excitement of stepping back to nature. Holiday cabins are also a big feature of many cultures globally. People like to get away from the everyday and experience something truly different from their normal lives. Luxury experiential lodging takes this to the next level. Five star holiday comfort set into the natural landscape.
Sell what you have that’s unique to you
This phenomenon isn’t peculiar to existing hospitality brands. Other types of leisure providers are beginning to see the value of unused land that can be repurposed and reinvigorated with experiential lodges. Adding a key count to their portfolio and with it extending their contact with customers. Golf courses, vineyards and amusement parks are all realising that keeping customers onsite overnight allows them to maximise sales opportunities, alongside offering a better or enhanced leisure experience for their guests.
Being able to spend the night releases guests from early travel curfews, designated drivers, and always having one eye on the clock. Being able to just relax and enjoy an experience makes it all the more desirable and ultimately, bookable. However you can’t just add on some lodges and hope for the best. They need a reason for being and they need that reason to dovetail with the existing story of the venue. The benefits of having overnight luxury accommodation might be obvious, but communicating that to your guests in a way that compliments and enriches the brand is key. For those resorts that already have more traditional accommodation, offering lodges expands the key count and is much more cost effective when compared to building extensions, with the added benefit of reinvigorating interest from existing customers.
Existing land-rich brands that specialise in experiential activities are at the forefront of benefitting from this type of expansion. Imagine how wonderful it would be having spent a day learning about wine making, to spend the night amongst the vines themselves? Or breakfasting next to the salmon lake you will spend the day fishing. The potential to combine and extend the customer experience can be directly interwoven with the core brand tenants. Alton Towers (Merlin Entertainment) do this extremely well at the more budget end of the spectrum. Hattingley Valley vineyard have teamed up with Little Place in the Country to supply quirky accommodation and an unforgettable experience for their wine tour guests.
If you are lucky enough to have spare land this is something that could be achieved onsite. The Experiences Economy has evolved in recent years and hospitality stakeholders who can create transformative experiences for their guests will lead the way.
Protecting the landscape by releasing its value
Some may ask what the environmental cost of all this is. Afterall the reason people want to experience the outdoor space is because of its beauty and holistic health benefits. The best lodges are those built with low environmental impact. Eden Arc Hospitality build on stilts, with environmentally minded architecture running throughout the entire design and build. These stunning units are like jewels of hospitality luxury set within the landscape, allowing full immersion for the occupants, with a very low eco impact.
This can add another sales point for the venue, as ecological awareness becomes ever more important to consumers globally. Monetising land that could not otherwise be developed can also be the key to unlocking revenue for resorts competing in such a crowded space. Unused land can be a serious drain on resources. Making that land work for the owner protects it from eventual sale and more intrusive development.
It’s not a game of soldiers
One of the overriding features of the luxury lodge movement is the room to breathe. We’re not talking holiday camp identikit units, placed side-by-side, overlooking one another. This is serious luxury, commanding high room rates and year round occupancy. Less is more and you can charge for that. These units are nestled in private nooks, with stunning views, top end interiors and Instagram moments at every turn.
These are the kind of holiday destinations people dream about experiencing. The sort you book for special occasions, or a well earned treat. They are gaining such popularity because they are a high-end addition to an existing offering, wiping their noses in terms of room rates and guest satisfaction, which in turn makes them a great addition rather than a drain on staff and resources. When you combine this with an existing brand and product, it can only enhance its value.
For more information on how experiential lodging and alternative accommodation could enhance your brand please get in touch.