Authentic. Local feel. Regional flavor. Immersive experiences. These are concepts many hotel brands are now using to describe their properties, but Destination Hotels, according to Marie Torres, v.p. of branding and marketing, has been conducting business this way for over four decades.
The hotel company, made up of over 40 upscale, luxury, and independent properties, focuses on the destination, not the facility. Though Destination Hotels is currently evolving as a whole with a new logo, signature touchpoints, and a new website, as well as like-minded brand partners, it allows each property to showcase the destination as they see fit. That said, the brand’s new signature touchpoints—Destination Taste, Destination Discovery, Destination Suitcase—provide a cohesive way to deliver those experiences.
Destination Taste showcases a savory snack or candy amenity offered to guests that showcases the local flavor of the destination. Destination Discovery, meanwhile, helps guests discover the destination through wellness activities such as a Walk, Run, and Drive tour where the hotel provides guests with pointers highlighting destination-specific tasks such as the best place to see a sunset, or where the best tacos can be found. Torres points out that many properties have gotten creative, such as in California, where some hotels offer Walk, Run, and Surf, providing guests with optimal surfing spots only locals would know about. Destination Hotels also recently launched brand-wide food tour travel experiences available at most resort properties.
So who would be the ideal Destination Hotel guest? According to Torres, someone who values individuality, is sociable, down-to-earth, and seeks unique experiences. “We call our target audience ‘interested independent.’ We want to help guests curate a unique experience as a local,” says Torres. Which brings us to one of the aforementioned signature touchpoints, Destination Suitcase—an online mobile app that will be available for all properties in early 2016 (currently available at four). When you book a stay for your clients, they’ll receive a “suitcase” of discovery opportunities including suggested books on the destination, favorite hiking trails, or suggested restaurant reservations. “It’s a suitcase of discovery and meant to correspond with a local tip of the area or something the destination has to offer,” says Torres.
Along with Destination Suitcase, the new mobile app will also implement a new way to use room service by requesting food to go, or to be delivered to a guest’s cabana or poolside versus their room; spa appointment scheduling will also be available. Guests will be sent geo-targeted push notifications—for instance, if they’re near the bar area they’ll be sent a drink special, be notified of happy hours, or meet and greets.
By the way, those “interested independent” travelers don’t have to leave their kids behind, as all properties are kid-friendly and have either a kids camp or kids club, as well as kids menus with healthy options. Each property also has a director of all things fun, whose job is to create memorable family experiences good for kids of all ages.
…but that’s not all
With a new brand logo comes a new website that allows users to have access to more content based on the experiences and locations they’re interested in. There’s a new blog with content highlighting each destination including a 2-day trip local guide series. A new platform for agents is also in the works (expected to launch in early 2016), including education on the various properties as well as incentives.
“We really want to educate the agent community on who we are and what we offer; what the differences are in luxury hotels and the rest of the collection,” says Torres. Destination Hotels, incidentally, offers FAMs throughout the year, and Torres points out that 60 percent of their business is transient customers, of which 30-35 percent is composed of agent bookings.
If you think with all these changes, Destination Hotels will sit back and rest on its laurels, think again. According to Torres, there’s a lot more to come. “We’re establishing our urban portfolio with hotels in San Francisco, Houston, and Silicon Valley; and a lot more is coming from us on the urban side of our portfolio.” That means more leisure experiences at the urban properties, including nightlife, and food and beverage.
“Our customer base is interested independents. They like to travel off the beaten path; they’re not looking for experiences that everyone goes to. They go to travel professionals to get the recommendation on that hotel experience that’s not expected,” points out Torres.
Destination Hotels: destinationhotels.com