Tourism accommodation - corporate vs local distinctiveness
26th January 2015
As destination managers we know the value that local distinctiveness can bring.
It helps us establish what is special about our destination and what kind of experience our visitors can expect. Local uniqueness crosses a number of sectors and can range from the type of food and drink being served in our restaurant, through to the heritage that visitors can expect to discover when exploring the destination.
But for some, the the concept of local distinctiveness still presents a struggle – particularly in the accommodation sector. Yes, we all know about the indomitable seaside landlady, but in truth accommodation has moved well beyond that. Today the market is dominated by mid range and budget hotels that offer a predictable and uniform customer experience.
As a well travelled tourism professional I invariably spend three to four nights a month in a hotel room, normally one of the chains across the south of the country. While I cannot fault these hotels on the level of service or the standard of the rooms I still find the whole experience somewhat sterile. Once you walk through the door there is often very little other than a few carefully placed local prints to distinguish this hotel; it could be Brighton or Bradford. Occasionally you might be treated to local produce at the breakfast or dinner table, but in many ways this seems like a token offering.
So how do hotels like this break out of their corporate stereotype and offer something that is genuine and distinctive? The challenge for us as Destination Managers is to break down those barriers to offer support to, and influence, hotel managers, to deliver their corporate standards, but equally become part of the destination.