Stuttgart, 13 May 2014. The hotel industry is facing massive changes, the transition has already begun. Research projects, such as the FutureHotel of Fraunhofer IAO, highlight this development. On 14 and 15 May at the FutureHotel Forum hoteliers, architects from the tourism sector, as well as representatives from services and the industry are coming together for discussions. One important issue: The new class of hotels, so-called New Generation hotels, which offer today’s and tomorrow’s traveller an entire experience – not merely an overnight stay with a bit of wellness. This new class of hotel stands increasingly apart through digital technology and less through the basic structure and size of the building.
New Generation hotels surprise the guest with an entirely new understanding of service, good design at affordable prices and fully optimized internal workflows. There are very successful pioneers in Scandinavia, England and the Netherlands; Germany and Austria are following suit. Whether citizenM, Qbic, OKKO, BLOC, HTL by Scandic or Ruby: Hoteliers that focused on standardizing their processes early on are now already benefitting from the boom. “Their success is now refuting all the traditional assumptions in the industry,” says Ulrich Pillau, one of the founders of hetras in Munich.
Not “only” the guests are thrilled. The experienced hotel IT expert Pillau is certain: “New Generation hotels are generating substantially higher yields than comparable conventional hotels.” New Generation hotels invest comparatively less per room, employ less staff and achieve nevertheless higher revenues per available room. He refers to hotel studies such as from the IBM Institute for Business Value. According to this study, many hoteliers will be focusing on standardizing procedures and processes to reduce costs in the coming years.
The hotel of the future is equipped with a new generation of standard software. It makes it possible to fulfill a multitude of requirements: Online presence grows, average rates are increased, self-check-in/check-out is available. It is always a matter of dramatically decreasing the hotelier’s workload, on one hand, and providing guests with a greatly improved interaction, on the other. For example, travellers can open doors with a smartphone. “New Generation hotels are also technically styled so that guests will find their familiar living and working environment in their room as well as in the entire hotel,” Pillau explains.
The new hotels do not realize their low personnel requirements at the guest’s expense; they are not “cheap” hotels. Through this automation, employees in the hotel can concentrate entirely on the guests: Administrative activities are centralized, regular processes are standardized. “For this reason, New Generation hotel chains also frequently receive excellent ratings in review portals,” according to Pillau.
New Generation hotels are hotels of the future. With them, the hotel world is becoming more diverse and very trendy. The design of the lobby – often a mix of living room and workplace – already makes guests feel at “home away from home.” It is also valued highly when they are able to check in and out using a mobile device. “76% say that a mobile check-in increases the level of satisfaction for their hotel,” says Pillau, citing surveys. For him one thing is clear: “Various hotel groups are already positioned promisingly. This trend will continue worldwide.”
About the research project »FutureHotel« of Fraunhofer IAO
The research project FutureHotel began in 2008 as an initiative of Fraunhofer IAO to identify new opportunities in the hotel industry and to use them to develop sustainable concepts and solutions. Five years of research have yielded numerous insights. The various questions raised in this research have already led in many cases to pilot solutions, which have found their way into the market. The FutureHotel Forum provides insight into the results of the work over the last five years and presents current developments, which will be considered in future research.
Photo: © gee-ly, Zürich und Fraunhofer IAO, Design: LAVA