HB ON THE SCENE: Creating Signature Moments for Guests

DENVER—What makes a memory? It could be the place, the people or even the scents—or maybe it’s something not quite as tangible. Nostalgia is a powerful force and triggers those often untapped places in the mind—places that respond to recognition, to comfort. However, a force just as strong could be the desire to create memories, to seek out this feeling of familiarity in the hopes of making a new nostalgia.

For hotel brands, this is nothing new. Held here, at RLH Corp. headquarters, the Hotel Business Executive Roundtable, “Signature Moments: Creating Memorable Stays,” explored how these moments are meant to extend far beyond the check-in to checkout window. Hosted by RLH Corp. with additional sponsor support from Gallagher Benefit Services Inc., hotel executives discussed how properties create these moments for guests and differentiate in a world of blurred brands.

“We all have memories of a trip or vacation that was momentous, or changed your view on life, or changed the way you want to pursue your goals, your life,” said Cameron Lamming, president/COO, RAR Hospitality. “Each hotel has an opportunity to create an experience; it’s sort of a duty at this point.”

Hotels’ methods of execution are the differentiators, with each brand and even each property utilizing unique ways of creating signature moments for guests.

“It wouldn’t be uncommon for a baby boomer to come into a lobby, see records, pop art or mid-century modern art and say ‘I recognize this,’” said Amanda Marcello, SVP, brand strategy, RLH Corp. “You might have that Gen X guest who could say, ‘My mother or grandmother had this’ and then the millennial says, ‘This is so retro; this is cool.’ You have three different types of people in the same space—nostalgia doesn’t mean antiques, it means remembering a moment of time and bringing it back to today.”

While certain design features may spark memory, industry leaders were unsure if these moments are completely centered around amenities.

“There’s a difference between signature items and signature moments,” said David Byrd, principal of Byrd Hotel Group. “What [brands] call their signature items are really just brand standards and marketing pieces that are just constantly hitting you over the head; it’s overkill.”

One thing that was certain among the executives, however, was that the ability to evoke emotions serves as a marketplace differentiator in and of itself, with hotels injecting emotional, human elements.

“The industry’s biggest advantages over short-term rentals is that those can’t create emotional connections,” said Bill Hopping, owner of W.R. Hopping & Co. Inc. “They create use of their apartment or house for a short period of time, but we have the ability because we can reach out, hire qualified people and give them permission to create those moments at the property level.”

For more on Hotel Business’ roundtable on how industry leaders can create signature moments for guests, read the upcoming April 7 issue.