Standing out from the crowd is an age-old problem for hoteliers and has become increasingly challenging as competitiveness in the sector continues to grow. This is particularly true for the UK, where the hotel construction pipeline is the strongest in Europe, surpassing its closest competitor Germany by a remarkable 50%. Today, as the numbers continue to grow, hotels must not only stand out from the crowd but also cater to the demands of guests. Whether it is playing into unique services, or delivering innovative seasonal experiences, it is more important than ever for hotels to get this right.
Fortunately, hoteliers have endless opportunities to enhance their offering through what can often be simple and straightforward ideas and initiatives. Highlighting a hotel’s existing unique attributes, such as its prime location or remarkable architecture, cultivating eco-friendly practices in daily operations, and celebrating the local culture are all actions hoteliers can take to differentiate themselves in today’s dynamic market.
Leaning into your location
Location plays a pivotal role in a hotel’s identity. While the UK has the most hotels under construction in Europe, a quarter of these are in London. Clearly, with such intense competition in the Capital, and other high-profile cities, hotel owners will face the challenge of how to stand out from their neighbours, while those out of town need to ask why should visitors make the journey to my hotel?
Burgh Island, for instance, while being a prominent landmark, is not situated near any points of interest, nor is accessible at all during high tides, yet its location remains a key draw for many guests. By incorporating the island’s natural wilderness into the guest experience, visitors enjoy a truly unique stay. Being in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, guests at Burgh can experience everything from a swim in the island’s natural outdoor mermaid pool to a trip to the mainland in the one-of-a-kind sea tractor and sustainably go shark fishing, where any sharks caught are returned to the sea.
A hotel’s location may be fixed, but owners can always take a fresh look at how a hotel’s locality makes it unique. Making the most that local cuisine has to offer, for instance, is an oft-overlooked way that hotels can enhance guest experience. By forging partnerships with local vendors to craft speciality cocktails or dishes featuring regional liquors and ingredients, or by following the example set by Burgh Island, which procures 80% of its kitchen’s ingredients from a 30-mile radius, the incorporation of local or traditional elements can elevate and enrich guests’ stay.
Holidaymakers value cultural immersion on vacation, and notably, 60% of UK millennials consider cultural experiences the most important part of travelling. As such, hotels that remain disconnected from their local culture and community run the risk of not capitalising on traditions and events that could increase their appeal. Whether by making the most of sometimes centuries-old regional traditions or tying activities to local seasonal events, hoteliers should look to immerse their guests in themed activities to distinguish themselves from others.
Locations with a centuries-old heritage, such as Burgh Island, can exemplify this, with Tom Crocker Day an annual highlight. The island’s Pilchard Inn was once a base for several pirates and smugglers, and in the 14th century, it was said that the smuggler Tom Crocker met his end there. Today, his ghost is rumoured to haunt the island, and on August 14, the Hotel organises a festival to commemorate the occasion.
Furthermore, Burgh’s art deco architecture has inspired themed weddings and parties, with guests able to ‘step back to the 20s’ and enjoy live jazz nights that evoke the era. The Hotel’s close link to Agatha Christie has led to the creation of its now famous murder mystery nights, offering an authentic, thrilling, and unforgettable experience – guests can also stay at the Beach House, which is where she used to stay and wrote a number of her novels.
While not all hotels have such historical connections, it is important that owners explore their surroundings, history and local partnerships to see if these can be woven into their guests’ experience.
In an era where eco-consciousness is paramount, with 90% of tourists considering sustainability when planning their holidays, it is crucial for all hotels to take steps to reduce their environmental impact.
One of the more substantial steps a hotel can take to reduce its environmental footprint and stand out to eco-conscious travellers is to invest in sustainable energy sources, such as Burgh’s use of solar panels on the disused tennis court. Although not the sole factor in a hotel’s commitment to sustainability, carefully considering the source of energy for hotel operations is an exceptionally important step and can serve as a significant indicator of an establishment’s dedication to environmental responsibility.
Not all hotels have the means to make large-scale infrastructural changes, and smaller, more accessible initiatives such as being energy-efficient, reducing waste, and implementing green transport will have a large impact on the footprint of a hotel. Switching to energy-conserving lighting can help reduce energy consumption by up to 80%, and installing controls that switch off lights when guests leave can be simple ways to save energy and costs.
In today’s extremely tight hospitality sector, it is the hotels that display the greatest creativity and originality in telling their unique story and marketing their singular proposition, which will stand out from the crowd and reap the rewards of such a profile.
A self-confessed serial entrepreneur, Giles Fuchs, owner of the Burgh Island Hotel, works tirelessly to create both financial and strategic opportunities for the business. Starting his first company at just 22 years old, Giles has developed a strong portfolio of business and management expertise, which is evidently apparent in his leadership of Burgh Island. He is also a keen sportsman, which has translated into a desire to foster and maintain a brilliant team ethos throughout the hotel, something which makes Burgh both a fantastic holiday destination but also a brilliant place to work.