Travel And Tour World – Please share your thoughts about popular futuristic or innovative hotel concepts across the globe and impact of technology on smart transformation of luxury hotels.
Barak Hirschowitz: Luxury hotels “on the water” is a trend we are seeing more of. The Manta Resort on Pemba Island offers an underwater bedroom and the Good Hotel in London is docked on the river Thames. The Queen Elizabeth 2 cruise ship is being refurbed and rebranded as the QE2 Hotel. It will be permanently fixed in Dubai, operate as a floating hotel, and public will be able to access the retail and restaurants onboard. Hotel groups like Virgin and Ritz-Carlton are also moving into the luxury cruise space with new futuristic concept “floating” hotels currently being built.
Travel And Tour World: Elon Musk’s Hyperloop concept is taking world by storm. What is your opinion about the potential of the ‘Hyperloop hotel’ in the U.S.?
Barak Hirschowitz: This is another example of the merging of luxury hotels with transport, a combination that has proved very successful in the cruise sector of hospitality. Today more than ever, time is our greatest luxury. Having your room follow you as your travel is a great time saver. We are confident the Hyperloop hotel will have a big following.
Travel And Tour World: How can such futuristic hotels cater to requirements of MICE travellers?
Barak Hirschowitz: Most MICE offerings still lack innovation. Much like the traditional hotel dining room was replaced with exciting new restaurant concepts, we believe the windowless conference rooms and generic banquet cuisine still offered by most hotels are in need of a makeover.
We hope to see future hotels grab the opportunity to innovate in this area and attract MICE travelers. We predict we will see Celebrity chef partnerships in event catering, wellness programs like guided meditation and exercise breaks that recharge conference delegates and seamless technology that works. We expect to see more interesting meeting spaces that let the guest experience and interact with their location.
What is the point of travelling to a great city or exotic location only to spend your entire trip in a conference room that looks and feels the same as the one you have back home? The demand for a more authentic experience has created big change in all other aspects of the hotel and its MICE’s turn to catch up.
Travel And Tour World: Tell us about new partnerships or potential partnerships in the niche of luxury hotel industry.
Barak Hirschowitz: Partnerships between fashion designers and hotels were the big trend of the past few years. We are now seeing a similar trend with wellness and health.
For example, Equinox has partnered with luxury hotels to replace their inhouse gym with full gyms that cater to both the public and guests. At the Four Seasons in Miami, Equinox gets a great location and the hotels guests get an amazing gym that has a full range of classes. Equinox has also announced their own branded hotel in Hudson Yards New York. Standard Hotels are also partnering with “celebrity” fitness instructors who offer classes to guests on certain days of the week.
Travel And Tour World: What sort of technologies in ultramodern hotels can ensure sustainable tourism in twenty-first century and reduce carbon footprint of guests?
Barak Hirschowitz: The feedback from hotel owners or operators is that right now most travelers are not prepared to pay more for a room even if they know it will have a lower carbon footprint. Owners are already facing major capital investment due to the constant upgrading of technology due to the demand of today’s guests.
To spend on lowering the carbon footprint will require technology that lowers costs at the same time. Energy management is an area where there is exciting innovation and we feel it will allow hotels to do both in the near future.
Travel And Tour World: What are your growth objectives for this year?
Barak Hirschowitz: The ILHA has been working on introducing regional chapters in gateway cities to create more local events and networking. We are currently working with Paris, Hong Kong and London chapters and expect to announce more soon.