news • Apr 02 2024

Stay Awhile: Experiential Hotels are Fueling the Experience Economy

From exotic journeys to the Far East to lavish trips to Walt Disney World, travel is an immensely lucrative industry. In fact, Millennials officially outspent Baby Boomers on travel last year, a report from Bain & Company cited. That statistic is unlikely to change. Millennials are on track to represent 80 percent of luxury purchases by 2030, including travel. But they aren’t the only ones who are looking to explore the world. 

In 2023, over half of American adults said they were seeking a luxury getaway within the next 2 years, according to an Apple Vacations survey. In a post-COVID world, the “experience economy” is thriving. That term describes “where guests crave adventure and exploration, where experiences become transformative and sensory, transcending beyond the actual experience and moment in time.” 

Hotels are an essential component of this experience economy. The rise of experiential hotels is a combination of two things: a tremendous interest in spending on travel, and the desire for highly-curated experiences that buck tradition and actively engage travelers. Here’s a look at how hotels are embracing the experience economy, and providing a dynamic travel experience across the board. 


Immersion in Art

The art world and the hotel world frequently converge to create artistic experiences for their guests. As the Observer writes, hotels are becoming “canvases for artistic expression, essentially doubling as living art galleries.” Throughout the world, there are some fascinating examples of this convergence. 

At the Dolder Grand in Zurich, Switzerland, you can find over 100 pieces of art, including work by Salvador Dali, Ferdinand Hodler and Zaha Hadid. They even have a 36-foot-long Andy Warhol in the reception area. Similarly, The Georgian in Santa Monica, California, which has a dedicated gallery located right off of its lobby called Gallery 33, recently held a showing of actress Sharon Stone’s work. At the Red Lion Inn in the Berkshires, actor Billy Zane and artist Charlotte Rose will debut their new exhibits together for the first time this April. Hotels themselves are now viewed as a canvas for showing great art. 


The Power of Embracing Fun

The power of fun is an enticing draw, and hotels understand that. Internationally,  hotels are leaning into playful experiences that embrace new trends. While hotels traditionally functioned as either “kid-friendly” or “adult-friendly,” the lines are much more blurred these days. 

Consider the Nickelodeon Hotels in the Dominican Republic, which just unveiled new programming geared towards an “enhanced guest experience.” These updates include everything from a family-oriented water park, Aqua Nick, to an inaugural food and slime festival. While some may instantly label these features as being exclusive to children, these properties have made a point to emphasize their universal draw. And with adult-friendly features like a 14,000-square-foot spa with bubble beds and a cold plunge area, it’s clear they welcome all ages. 

The allure of fun is also clear at the Luxor Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, which just announced they are launching an “immersive playground.” There, guests will feel like they are “inside a living graphic novel as they enjoy magical, interactive and projection-mapped technology.” 

Similarly, the Yiche Atour Automobile Concept Hotel in Shenzhen, China is a car-themed hotel with “metal grilles and neon arrows reminiscent of traffic signals to reception’s scrap-parts installation and model cars and racing games in the guest rooms,” according to Interior Design Magazine. It’s another strong example of how adults will spend significant money on an enjoyable experience that takes them out of their daily lives. 

Authenticity is the new luxury

While luxury travel is nothing to sneeze at, it’s not just about spending lots of money. 

Julian Houchin, director of Eden Arc, an alternative accommodation provider, recently pointed out that “the definition of hotel luxury is being redefined as hotel guest demands evolve from the traditional finery of luxury décor and service to the ideas of authenticity and experience.” In a unique way, authenticity is the new luxury.

Authenticity is a feature that all sorts of hotels are reaching for. Consider the second Miami location of CitizenM Hotels, a $4 billion mixed-use Miami Worldcenter known for celebrating affordable luxury. Among the property’s draws are a rooftop pool inspired by a cruise ship, seating nooks that look like beach chairs, and a living room like-lobby filled with Vitra furnishings. The hotel is filled with quirky art and accessories sourced via an open call to locals. Clearly, hotels at every point on the luxury spectrum have the ability to embrace an experiential point of view. 


A tremendous amount of funds are currently being poured into the travel industry. That number is only expected to increase in the future. As a result, experiential hotels are wisely grasping onto the changing tide in the industry. Hotels are creating dynamic experiences that lure in customers on a deeper level. Whether it’s immersion through art, fun, or affordable luxury, the thriving experiential travel industry sees a key player in hotels. That’s why now is the time to jump in, take part, and ensure your customers can immerse themselves in something new and exciting.

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