THE FREQUENT FLYER

Hotel concepts are getting more innovative – and more bewildering酒店概念日新月異,亦令人更無所適從

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Our columnist on the rise of bewildering hotel concepts

ONCE UPON A time, frequent travellers chose a hotel by narrowing down several criteria. First, you chose your budget. Then you decided if you wanted a business or leisure hotel. Then a location. And finally a brand, perhaps based on some kind of hotel point scheme.

Boy, have things changed. The first disruption happened in the late ’90s with the boutique hotel. Often these hotels offered neither a business nor leisure focus (or rather they offered both); were incredibly difficult to pigeonhole in a ‘class’ (they were extremely luxurious in decor but offered no facilities); and had no global brand.

But now, especially over the past few years, the division between staid hotel chains and cool boutiques has become weirdly warped. Big hotel chains have essentially gone all boutique-y themselves and created or acquired sub-brands. These eschew many traditional hotel segmentation norms and place a certain lifestyle theme or philosophy at the heart of their identities. The Andaz (meaning ‘personal style’ in Hindi) chain owned by Hyatt, for example, ‘welcomes imaginative thinkers of all ages and backgrounds’.

The six largest hotel groups, with some 70 sub-brands, control 40 percent of the global hotel market and 70 percent of the global development pipeline. And these groups are using their financial clout to invest heavily in another wave of disruption: using data and analytics to create a bespoke customer experience. So in the near future we might get pricing on the basis of need, like a low-cost airline – extra charges for toiletries or room cleaning, for instance

– and hot chocolate at 10pm every night because they know you like that.

I am no Luddite – I like disruption, innovation and hot chocolate at 10pm – but I have a few major issues with all of this.

Firstly, it is more bewildering to pick a hotel now. Most of my professional colleagues leave it to their assistants or their millennial children to pick a hotel, since they have no idea how to differentiate between the endless series of similarly priced, well-located options that differ by lifestyle choice. Secondly, all this consolidation and financial clout might facilitate more investment but it doesn’t really seem to be reducing prices.

Thirdly, I worry that the fundamentals will get forgotten. Honestly, I’m not that bothered about whether my hotel’s lobby can double up as an atmospheric hub for creatives. Nor do I find it difficult to order my own hot chocolate or switch off the lights without an iPad to help me. And I really don’t want hotels making lifestyle choices for me (like eliminating TVs from rooms for serenity). Most of the time, all I want is a great bed, free Wi- Fi, tasty room service, attentive staff and a few useful facilities, like a gym and a pool.

I bet you do, too. Or am I wrong? Let me know at [email protected]

曾幾何時,旅遊常客會按若干條件篩選入住的酒店:價錢是首要的考慮因素,公幹和度假又會有不同的取向,再來就是考慮酒店的位置,最後還要衡量酒店品牌,例如積分獎賞等附帶因素。

時移勢易,90年代後期精品酒店冒起,捲起了酒店業第一波變革。精品酒店往往無分商務或休閒定位,也可能會兩者兼顧,因此難以評定「等級」,它們有些裝修得金碧 輝煌,卻欠缺配套設施,這類酒店大多不隸屬於國際品牌。但最近幾年形勢有變,傳統連鎖酒店集團與型格精品酒店的界線不可思議地日趨模糊;前者紛紛仿傚後者的風格,並大舉建立或收購副線品牌。慣常用以劃分傳統酒店類別的標準統統失效,取而代之的是以生活品味和理念為本的酒店定位。例如凱悅酒店集團就創立了以印地語Andaz(意即「個人風格」)為名的酒店品牌,並「歡迎任何年齡和背景的創意達人入住」。全球六大酒店集團旗下共有70多條副線品牌,佔全球酒店市場四成,並包攬全球七成的擬發展項目。這些集團將雄厚的財政實力押注在新一波變革上,力求運用數據及資料分析,為客人提供度身訂造的服務,例如仿傚廉航,把浴室用品或房間清潔列為按客人個別需要而選擇的收費項目,或迎合住客的喜好,每晚10時奉上一杯香濃的朱古力熱飲。

其實我並非冥頑不靈,亦喜歡創新變革,也愛在晚上10時來一杯熱朱古力,不過我對這一切的變遷抱有幾個疑問。

首先,挑選酒店將會更傷腦筋。價格相若、位置理想的酒店多不勝數,分別只在於它們標榜的生活風格,而我大部分同事根本不知差別何在,唯有把下決定的重任交給助手或他們出生於千禧世代的孩子。其次,酒店的併購活動和財政實力雖帶動更多投資項目,卻無助降低房價。另外,我擔心酒店的基本要素會被忽略。坦白說,酒店大堂面積擴充一倍,為創意人才提供氣氛一流的交流平台,對我而言毫不相干。我亦不認為要自行點一杯熱朱古力有多困難,而即使手上無iPad遙控程式,我也可輕易關掉房燈。我不想讓酒店代我決定如何享受生活(例如移除房中的電視以換來寧靜)。我最著緊的,只是客房有否舒適的床鋪和免費無線網絡,送餐服務的菜式是否合乎口味,員工是否親切用心,健身室及泳池等實用設施是否齊備而已。你應該也是這樣想吧?不妨把你的意見電郵至[email protected]

By the Anonymous Global Nomad作者為匿名環球游牧民In the past month上月:

20 Flights taken乘搭航班次數: 20,457

Miles travelled 飛行里數:

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