The people that design travel experience are often the people that don't travel much.
How else can one explain an airline that automatically upgrades fliers to a middle seat in their "comfort" section when an aisle seat in steerage is the better choice?
Or, when signing in as a "elite" member of a hotel company produces fewer room choices (and higher rates) than when signing in as just a regular guy/girl?
Or, when the configuration of a hotel room is so not-consumer friendly that you hafta wonder whether the developers ever tested their design (by spending a night in it) before unleashing it on unsuspecting consumers.
It's truly mind boggling...and we see it almost every day. And, realize that most of the big travel companies aren't nearly as smart as we believe them to be.
The success of disruptive platforms such as Airbnb are often attributed to Millennial preference. And, as that generation is set to become the largest cohort of consumers on the planet, providers of travel experience would be wise to take note.
However, a fascinating study on Millennial Travel by Resonance shows a dual face when it comes to overnight accommodations. While almost 50% of Millennials have used a "sharing economy" play like Airbnb, only 11% list it as their preferred solution. Their overwhelming preference (58%) is to stay in a "real" hotel. In fact, Millennials say they'd rather stay with friends and relatives (37%) than a home sharing service.
Airbnb may offer more total rooms...but Millennials would rather stay at a Hilton.
So, imagine my surprise as I prepare to step into the shower at the sensational Wyndham Gettysburg. Like a lot of recently developed hotels, the designers have eschewed shower curtains and sliding glass doors for a single pane of floor-to-ceiling glass to keep water from splashing all over the floor.
Plus, it’s a pretty cool look.
But, just so utterly wrong from a functionality aspect because there is no possible way to turn the shower on without stepping into the line of (cold water) fire. It’s clear that the designers of these hip new bathrooms have never actually showered in their creations...or they’d quit designing them that way.
Except at the Wyndahm Gettysburg, where the designer was actually thinking about the end user...and designed this glass differently (click photo to enlarge).
Bravo. Well played. I so want to shake your hand.
And, because that’s not all that’s cool about the Wyndham Gettysburg, I look forward to my next visit.
Marriott has reached out to the braniacs at MIT to help them re-imagine their lobbies to enable more interaction between guests.
According to Fast Company: “A lot of times when you’re on the road, all of the sudden you find out it's a very small world. You’ll sit across the bar from someone and find out they went to your school or were in the same fraternity,” says Paul Cahill, Marriott’s senior vice president of brand management. “The idea is, how do we bring social media into this public space and make it easier?”
Ummm, make "what," exactly, easier? Enabling people with lousy social skills to hook-up?
An app called Six Degrees has been developed that works off LinkedIn profiles (Facebook was considered too creepy) to alert people in the lobby and the hotel staff of potential connections. Hotel staff could organize jogs or whiskey tastings if they see connections that would otherwise be missed by these business travelers passing in the night.
And, individuals could share a beer with a fraternity brother or...ummm, yeah.
Last week, we hit a nerve with several readers on our poke at the alarm clocks some hotel chains have installed in their rooms in an attempt to exude a sense of cool. The only problem is, it isn't cool if it takes a manual for the guest to figure out how to set the alarm.
The reason that the Macintosh was "insanely great" 30 years ago was that it combined (for its time) never before seen design with an interface that was instantly intuitive. THAT is what made it so cool.
The stylish Umstead Hotel & Spa in the Greater Raleigh Region gets that...and offers not just an alarm clock, but a total room control station on its nightstands (click to enlarge image). Like an iPad touch screen, the options are a breeze for controling lighting (including the "mood" option) and the alarm. Current and future weather conditions are clearly displayed and a news headline crawl keeps insomniacs informed.
WTF is it with the alarm clocks so many hotels have begun to deploy in their rooms? Setting a wake-up, getting music and any other option that these trendy units may offer takes a tutorial to do the simplest of tasks.
Of course, hotels could always install the standard $9.99 alarm clocks you can find at Walgreens and Wal-Mart to more effectively meet the needs of their guests. But, I guess that wouldn't be cool. So, instead, they subject their front desk staff to more wake-up call requests than ever before, as most guests give up after a few minutes of trying to arm their alarms.
So, kudos to the Hershey Lodge in Hershey PA. While the lure of installing a hip clock was too much to resist, they supply guests with instructions on how to use the maddeningly confusing chronograph.
Honestly, wouldn't a major hotel chain require their designers to create a dummy of the standard room in which someone (maybe even, gasp, the designer) could spend a night or two in to see if it worked before replicating it over 150 times?
Apparently not in this hotel. Because glass is involved, the lack of 3-D makes the picture at left less than perfect to play the "What's Wrong" game...so let me cheat for you.
With the bathroom door open, the glass shower door cannot achieve even a 75 degree angle open, banging loudly into the opposing door. Even worse, note that these are not sliding glass shower doors. Thus, there is no way to turn on the shower without getting soaked with a blast of cold water.
Good morning, campers.
Had the designer been forced to actually spend 24 hours in the room that s/he designed...there would be no way this failure would have been foisted upon the poor guests of an exceptional brand hotel that should certainly know better.