business news in context, analysis with attitude

by Kevin Coupe

The New York Times had a story over the weekend about how hotels, “challenged by the home-sharing economy” that has created companies such as Airbnb, which recently reported Q3 revenue of more than $1 billion, are working hard to create for themselves differential advantages.

The scenario is a familiar one to many companies in many industries - disruptive companies “, “shook legacy brands out of their slumber and forced them to consider innovating their value propositions, and it encouraged entrants to experiment with novel and bold innovations.”

Chekitan S. Dev, a professor in the School of Hotel Administration at Cornell University, tells the Times, that “new hotel brands are routinely asking a series of ‘what if’ questions:
‘What if customers could check in anytime they like? What if the room was customized to the needs of the guest? What if the room could be rented in parts or in combination with others? What if the guest determined the value of the room? What if there was a seamless experience between the hotel and the local community?’”

One example: the Angad Arts Hotel in St. Louis, a 146-room property that “offers four color schemes designed to support emotions. Rooms come in yellow, said to be associated with happiness, green for rejuvenation, blue for tranquillity and red for passion (doubles from $185) … Rooms come with corresponding accessories, including a tabletop Zen garden with a mini rake in the blue rooms, a lamp set with Himalayan salt crystals in the green rooms, a smiley whoopee cushion in the yellow rooms and a scented candle in the red rooms.”

And then, there is the SCP Hotel chain, which goes so far as to allow “guests to name their rate when checking out, meaning they can lower the suggested price if they feel the value doesn’t align.”

The point is that these new brands are starting with the customer and working from there, and in doing so, challenge existing businesses to do the same thing … which isn’t always easy, because it challenges established business practices and legacy systems.

But they don’t have any choice. And that’s the Eye-Opener.
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