Move over Airbnb, the most innovative players in Australian accommodation are hotels.
A new report from Tourism Accommodation Australia has been released highlighting the dramatic expansion and transformation of Australia’s hotel industry.
The report challenges the idea that hotels are the old-fashioned alternative in the ‘home-away-from-home’ accommodation era.
The report, titled The Innovation Revolution Transforming Australia’s Hotel Industry, documents how hotel brands with new designs and technologies and guest-centric services are changing the face of our accommodation sector.
The changes emphasise trends such as localism, individualism, art and sustainability, and come at a time when the hotel sector is undergoing its largest-ever expansion.
Cities such as Perth, Brisbane, Canberra, Adelaide and Melbourne have already seen a significant rejuvenation of their hotel stock, while the Sydney hotel sector is at the start of its most dramatic expansion since the 2000 Olympics.
More than 200 new or upgraded hotels will be added to Australia’s hotel inventory in the decade to 2025 adding 30,000 rooms across city, airport, suburban, regional and resort destinations.
Major innovations identified in the TAA research report include:
- New lifestyle brands introducing new hospitality concepts: Boutique international brands like Aloft & the Autograph Collection (Marriott), Curio (Hilton), MGallery (Accor), Indigo (IHG), and TRYP (Wyndham) and Ovolo Hotels have joined Australian designer brands like QT, Art Series and Veriu.
- The technology revolution – from virtual reality design to keyless entry and artificial intelligence.
- The reception desk being replaced by multi-purpose welcome areas with iPad check-in – or no check in at all. Personal mobile technology is also allowing guests the capability to pre-select rooms and services.
- Lobby and reception areas are being transformed into ‘living’ spaces, with hotel designers introducing the ‘home-away-from-home’ concept by refashioning their lobbies and other public areas from business-like, pragmatic spaces to warm and inviting spaces. Interactive cafes and delis are now common, along with plentiful lounges, re-charging ports, TV screens and private areas for friends/colleagues to catch up over a coffee or glass of wine.
Tourism Accommodation Australia CEO, Carol Giuseppi, said that the expansion of Australia’s hotel industry and the commitment to design excellence would play a crucial role in sustaining our tourism performance.
“The biggest trends influencing the new hotel design include an emphasis on localism, community, individualism, art and sustainability. Hotels are being designed to complement the local landscape, with street art, edgy design and a focus on local produce on restaurant, bar and function menus,” she said.
“The changes are being driven by changes in traveller’s demands, particularly the millennial generation. Technology has been a key focus for hotels.
“Not only are most Australian hotels offering at least some level of free wifi, but connection speeds are faster and the new breed of hotels are offering casting capability to their in-room screens.
“Never before has the Australian hotel industry seen such cutting-edge innovation that is not only meeting changing travel trends, but in many cases anticipating them as well.”
According to the report, other innovations include:
- Co-working spaces: Hotels are increasingly being designed to cater for mobile workers. Singapore-based Next Story Group will launch its first combined co-working space and hotel brand called Kafnu in Sydney’s Alexandria in the next year
- Hotel restaurants: Many are being redesigned to provide more distinctive local experiences, with a focus on regional produce, wines and craft beers
- Websites: The hotel industry is undergoing dramatic transformation in this area, with numerous websites upgrading the booking process, content, and hotel and destination information
- Wellness: Options such as yoga rooms, 24-hour gyms and health-conscious menus re becoming de rigeur
Tourism accommodation delivered more than $8 billion in foreign revenue to the economy in 2017 and supported some 180,000 Australian jobs.