The evolution of hotels and their purpose has greatly evolved from simply offering a place to sleep and get a bite to eat in a city where one was doing business or visiting family. No longer are people visiting cities just to see the famous landmarks or “check a destination off their list,” with the hotel being secondary. Oftentimes, the hotel itself is the reason for the trip, but increasingly travelers are looking for hotels that truly reflect and support the destination’s community.
This could be as simple as a hotel using honey from a local beekeeper or other purveyors, or on a greater scale having a commitment to hiring local and pledging a percentage of profits to community charities. Travelers have increasingly realized that to truly experience a destination, they need to support hotels that reflect and support its local community.
With this evolution, hotel management teams have realized the responsibility they have to support their communities. Not only is the community a source of business for them, it’s also the home of their employees and their families, their local craftsmen and vendors and, most crucially, a key component in their property’s DNA. Hotels that don’t attempt to engage with their local communities miss out not only on key resources but also on enriching their guests’ experiences.
|This article is featured in O'Dwyer's Jul. '22 Travel & Tourism PR Magazine
(view PDF version)
In the age of conscious consumerism, travelers are increasingly looking to support brands that prioritize community. As a result, the hotels and hospitality groups that are built on a foundation of uplifting their communities are those that will continue to lead in the industry. Whether it’s local partnerships, charitable alignments or hiring practices, a community focus rooted in authenticity will be increasingly recognized and deservingly celebrated.
Charitable alignments with local organizations are an important focus for a growing number of hotels such as Conrad Maldives Rangali Island, which contributes to the local Maldivian community through local outreach programs. The hotel’s initiatives provide career and learning opportunities for local youth through its Young Girls Apprenticeship Program and hydroponics project promoting sustainable farming. Supporting the community through youth programs is also a priority for The Central Romana Corporation, the parent company of Casa de Campo Resort and Villas, which supports three major charities in neighboring La Romana including The Hogar del Niño, a children’s daycare and educational center for more than 1,500 local children.
Balancing strategic expansion and organic growth is a key consideration for brands whose foundations are grounded in being an asset to their communities. With a growing number of hotels popping up in some of the Northeast’s most sought-after destinations, Main Street Hospitality achieves this balance through its uniquely diverse yet consistently local-centric portfolio of independent hotels, which range from historic properties such as the Red Lion Inn to new builds and restorations including the soon-to-open Canoe Place in Hampton Bays. Showcasing a steadfast commitment to “building things that last, and preserving things that matter,” the group prioritizes authentic development over aggressive expansion, ensuring each new project isn’t only beneficial to its community, but deeply integrated within it.
According to American Express Travel’s 2022 Global Travel Trends report, beyond seeing dollars go back into local communities, an overwhelming majority of tourists are driven by finding a connection to local culture within the destinations they visit. For new hotels such as The Morrow, opening in Washington D.C.’s NoMa neighborhood this fall, connecting guests with the new 3rd Street District means showcasing its history while redefining its future. Located in an area known for its rich industrial history and artistic innovation, the hotel’s offerings are rooted in its surroundings.
For many hotels such as The Morrow, considering the bond between guests and local culture begins with design. For newly constructed properties and those that prioritize this connection, locally-inspired design is a strong focus and is prevalent across some of this year’s top openings. Opened earlier this year, the Conrad Tulum Riviera Maya features a design that’s shaped by local artisans, with hand-crafted art installations and design details throughout the hotel, and soon-to-open in Manhattan, the Ritz-Carlton New York, NoMad’s design is inspired by the area’s colorful history as the Floral District, with floral expressions represented throughout public spaces and guestrooms.
Hospitality, like public relations, is a business built around the pursuit of connection to the people and places that give rise to culture. Amplifying the cultural catalysts shaping the places we travel to, and doing so consistently, is a shared practice across hotels that have become synonymous with culture itself. Crucial in doing so, in many cases, is championing local artists. At Hammetts Hotel, the Sarah Langley gallery presents the work of artists with ties to Newport, showcasing local work through Newport Curates. Hammetts Hotel and Main Street Hospitality place a strong focus on arts & culture and support of community arts initiatives, inviting artists, musicians, performers, filmmakers and creatives to call the hotel home base, partnering with organizations including NewportFilm and Newport Jazz & Folk Festival to host creatives throughout the season.
Allyn Magrino is President and Chief Revenue Officer at Magrino.