Once, perceptions of luxury were very different. It was enough for hotels to provide a comfortable bed and decent room service. Today, it’s no longer enough to meet expectations – true luxury comes from exceeding them.
There are a number of factors behind this quest for the best, but many in the industry point to the rise of social media and review sites like TripAdvisor. “I’ve been in the travel industry for 10 years now and over that time consumers’ expectations have shifted significantly,” Jo Boundy, Executive Manager of Qantas Hotels told BBC Travel. “People have more choice. They’re more educated. They know what to expect before they get to a destination.” At the same time, increased choice reduces brand loyalty as travellers have – quite literally – a world of options.
To get their customers coming back, hotels have to be better than ever. According to a recent report from Colliers International, the Australian hotel industry is about to enter a period of refurbishment and repositioning in order to stay competitive. “It is a simple fact that eventually every property will need an upgrade but with the opening of more than 15,000 new rooms over the past three years, existing owners will need to consider expediting the renovation cycle to compete with significant new supply,” says Karen Wales, Colliers International Director of Hotels.
Improvements need to extend beyond the physical property into service as well. Personalisation is one of the ways that luxury hotels are raising the bar. “We’ve got examples of hotels leaving these incredible welcome gifts on the bed for customers when they arrive, or your favourite cocktail left by the side of the pool for you when you get there,” Boundy says. “Hoteliers are really going to great lengths to make sure customers feel special, creating a rapport that keeps them coming back.”
PC: Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour