Hotel owners are grateful for one thing about the pandemic and that’s an opportunity for a ‘reset’ on something they call “amenity creep.” You might call it basic services like housekeeping, or the club lounges you’ve been promised access to in exchange for your loyalty and business with a brand.
“Amenity creep” was a real problem for the hotel industry pre-pandemic, but the past two years have given hoteliers the opportunity to reset their operating model and make some cuts, according to industry executives.
Speaking at the “Boardroom Outlook: Leadership — Understanding the ‘Hot Potato’ Issues” panel at the 2022 Americas Lodging Investment Summit, Ashford Hospitality Trust President and CEO Rob Hays said things like executive lounges must be scaled back to combat labor shortages and increasing costs.
“That’s something brands were pushing hard from the loyalty side, and I think this has given us the ability to kind of rethink some of those amenity creep issues,” he said.
The balance of power has shifted from chains to owners, he’s saying, and owners no longer have to spend money on guests. If a chain is willing to rent out its brand, that now seems to come without the old ‘brand standards’ laying out what hotels had to deliver to guests.
As one brand leader, the COO of Extended Stay American, put it “We have to ask ourselves not just ‘What do the guests actually need?’ but equally ‘What are they willing to pay for?'”
Here’s the hotels that Ashford Hospitality Trust owns if you want a list of properties to avoid. They’re a mix of Marriott and Hilton, mostly, with a couple of Hyatts and an IHG thrown in for good measure.
Since hotels are working hard to give up the services and amenities that set them apart from homesharing alternatives, giving up their competitive advantages, they’re increasingly vulnerable. And unlike the pandemic, this time the wound will be entirely self-inflicted.
If Airbnb offered more transparent pricing (where total price wasn’t 50% more than advertised rate) and reasonable cancellation policies they would clean hotels’ clocks. Airbnb has scale and brand, but that’s really not a moat and there’s a clear opportunity to re-disrupt lodging with something that actually delivers a better customer experience (and layers on a loyalty program) while the CEO of Airbnb is distracted with crypto payments as number one priority.