ASPEN, CO—”For not much money at all you could be sitting in Paris. This was unimaginable even just five years ago,” said Todd Wynne-Parry, EVP of global acquisitions and development for Two Roads Hospitality. With the variety of lodging options and technology readily accessible, Wynne-Parry spoke on the changing industry at the Two Roads Hospitality Travel Industry Advisory Board Forum, held at The Gant, a Destination Hotel.
The proliferation of boutique and lifestyle brands give travelers unique alternatives to the big players and a wider range of price points in hot-spot destinations.
“People are sick and tired of beige, boring hotels,” Wynne-Parry said. “Particularly millennials—they don’t identify with big brands, they want choices.” And the industry is catching on with more soft brands and lodging segmentation like the introduction of Airbnb, Luxury Retreats and Generator, among others.
Millennials also crave convenience, and with the prevalence of on-demand transportation like Uber and Lyft, travel is even more available and affordable. In addition, services like these are giving hotels more flexibility in terms of development.
“Uber is changing how we do business. It used to be location, location, location; now, it’s location, location, Uber. It’s changing where hotels can be successful,” Wynne-Parry said. “It’s not that a hotel needs to be around office space or on a beach anymore—people can Uber.”
Within the property walls is really where the changes are happening, however. Hotel amenities and design are transforming with in-room technology, such as voice activation, and structural features like roof decks and premium gym experiences. “This is the new religion. People will pay hundreds of dollars to be a part of this,” Wynne-Parry said.
For Two Roads Hospitality specifically, properties in the pipeline include the Tommie Hollywood in Hollywood, CA; a Joie de Vivre hotel in Merced, CA; and Thompson properties in Miami, Dallas and San Antonio. In areas near universities and other major attractions, these locations mark prime spots for business start-ups. According to Wynne-Parry, these types of markets are strong for hotels right now, especially in the boutique segment.
Also on the uprise are “Metroburbs,” a word coined to describe Bell Works, a Destination Hotels property opening in Holmdel, NJ, close to New York City. According to the company, a Metroburb is the vision for a self-contained metropolis in a livable and accessible suburban location. This includes downtown attractions like office space, retail, art and culture all close by.
The face of the guest may be changing and the industry is responding, but André Fournier,
EVP of sales and marketing for Two Roads Hospitality, noted that there are aspects of the industry that will remain unwavering. “People can imitate products, services, duplicate it, but you can’t duplicate people,” Fournier said. “Our goal is to make someone’s day. It’s about how you execute it that makes the difference.”