Telling Stories - Hotels And New Narratives

We’ve all done it.

Swanned into the lobby of a favorite hotel like we’re the stars in our own personal movie.  Wearing our best travelling clothes, hair and make up done, gliding through in sunglasses and an air of importance.

As hotel’s start to understand these consumer behaviors and desires, in particular the way that our experiences create a more compelling part of our identities, these personal narratives are played out in a larger scale in the stories that hotels are beginning to tell to their guests.

Often linked to the history of the buildings, or the origins of the hotel business itself, these narratives are increasingly important in the way that hotels distinguish themselves and can build a much deeper, more interesting and more creative relationship with guests.

It’s also leading to a fundamental change in the way that hotel concepts are developed and designed, as the core creative concept, the central idea that the experienced is based on is increasingly established and crafted first.

Take The Gotham in Manchester as a wonderfully theatrical example. “Part Gatsby, part Grand Budapest’ the experience is designed to delight, in a very cinematic way, transporting guests back to the roaring twenties in Manhattan.

Everything that happens at Gotham evolves out of this core concept. The rooms, the service style, staff uniforms, the branded touch points and restaurant concepts.

The aim is to involve guests in the drama of the hotel, overlaying our own fantasies with that of the core hotel concept, building a sense of us being actors in the rich narrative of the Gotham set, and building a strong sense of belonging and connection along the way.

The Four Seasons at Ten Trinity Square carries a much more subtle narrative but every bit as engaging as Gotham. The hotel enhances the connection its guests have with the space by creating an identity that amplifies the history of the building.

So, not only are guests entranced by the nature of the Beaux Arts building but gently schooled on its history and style by the printed collateral, with quotes from Chaucer and Pepys peppered across the experience.

Beautiful artifacts of their visit, illustrated with architectural illustrations of the building and its detail, are offered to guests, so that the memories of their visit are echoed well beyond their stay.

But these narratives are not only about architecture.

Hotel Cycle in Japan’s Hiroshima prefecture crafts a concept around the growing trend of (unsurprisingly) cycling. Rather than a heavy handed theme the hotel caters to stylish cyclists with carefully designed services and spaces that make a cycling holiday more attractive and easier to achieve.

Guests can buy their pre-ride coffee in a “cycle through” café and relax after their hard days cycling in the Kog Bar. Access to a high-end bike shop and a direct track out to the Shimanami Kaido cycle path create a very strong sense of shared understanding between the hotel and its guests.

Participation, engagement, and building a connection with guests will continue to be increasingly important as hotels look for better ways to connect, and create richer, more engaging (and sharable) experiences.

While crafting interesting, compelling and unique stories may not be the way for all hotels, as people continue to build their identities around what they “do” rather than what they “buy” the way we travel could play a more important role.