Hotels have kept pace with technology demands of new generations of travellers, the TAA found.
Hotels have kept pace with technology demands of new generations of travellers, the TAA found.

Australia’s hotel industry has recognised threats to the traditional accommodation model and has responded with a significant reinvention of its own industry, according to a newly released report from Tourism Accommodation Australia.

Dubbed the “innovation revolution”, the report highlights hotels as no longer just a place to stay but rather “lively and connected destinations for visitors and locals alike”.

The report looks at the action taken by the hotel industry to identify and respond to the needs of new and connected generations and how in an industry more competitive than ever before, significant investment in R&D, technology and new brands has led to “a complete renaissance” for the hotel industry.

Other major changes noted in the report include changes in consumer behaviour towards localism, individualism, art and sustainability. Travellers are increasingly seeking home-away-from-home familiarity experiences not just in major cities but in suburban areas closer to their workplaces – particularly in cities where major companies have moved out of CBD locations and into dedicated business parks in areas with less developed public transport services.

Cities such as Perth, Brisbane, Adelaide and Melbourne have completely reinvented their hotel inventory, while Sydney – still the country’s largest player – is in the midst of its largest period of expansion since the 2000 Olympic Games.

Tourism Accommodation Australia CEO Carol Giuseppi said the rise of design excellence coupled with this expansion in inventory would determine the level of the industry’s ongoing success.

“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.

“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. Keyless entry to rooms has been introduced and increasingly guests will be able to select their specific room type in advance.

Hotels have completely reinvented the guest experience in recent years, according to a TAA study.

Major trends identified by the report include many new lifestyle hotel brands offering only small room numbers however doing so at competitive price points and ideally located between major cities and inner-city fringe areas. Some specific examples include Aloft (Marriott), Curio (Hilton), MGallery (AccorHotels), Hotel Indigo (IHG), Ovolo Hotels and TRYP (Wyndham). Smaller brands not aligned with major groups were also identified, including Veriu Hotels, QT Hotels and Art Series.

Individuality had firmly replaced uniformity in terms of hotel design, with local designers employed or consulted to bring local elements to a hotel’s public spaces. Increasingly, these were being rolled out as functional, communal living spaces featuring device charging stations, more lounge space, interactive cafes through to hydroponic gardens, indoor waterfalls and other opportunities for guests to feel connected to nature.

Hotel booking technology was also being reinvented, with websites supporting smartphone apps which facilitate a customer’s entire journey including allowing them to choose a specific room and check in and out without physically needing to interact with a hotel employee.

“The new wave of hotel development is covering all price points – from economy to luxury. New hotel design has allowed for rooms to be made more compact by better utilisation of space and this has enabled hotel development costs to be kept competitive. 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,” Giuseppi added.