The Importance of Branding in the Hospitality Industry

Today’s travelers have a universal worldview — not a generational one.

Hotels are in constant motion to gauge the ever-demanding expectations of Millennials and respond accordingly — from changing up décor to adding services like 24-hour cafés and hot yoga classes. Innovation has become reactive rather than proactive across all sectors of the hospitality industry, resulting in many providers throwing money at amenities, services, and offers that aren’t true to their brand — and missing the real mindset of the modern traveler.

Today’s leisure travelers aren’t defined by their generation or attracted by sexy of-the-moment extras. Rather, travelers of all ages are shifting what they expect from their hospitality experiences. A recent study by the Chicago-based Upshot Agency, which focuses on shopper behavior, revealed that “the universal appeal of cultural immersion reflects a broader attitudinal change across travelers of all types, and authenticity has become the most important quality defining great travel experiences.”

It’s time for hospitality brands to pull back the covers, reveal their own unique DNA, and leverage it to find meaningful common ground with how their consumers want to experience the destinations they choose — not just how they want to stay in them. Brands that win with today’s most important leisure travelers will think of themselves as the launching pad for holistic, immersive travel experiences that surprise and delight in every dimension. 

Who’s doing it right?

Ever want to learn how to make real Chinese dumplings — in Shanghai? Or experience the rebirth of Detroit with the urban change-makers making it happen? Airbnb is taking cultural immersion to a whole new level with the launch of “Airbnb Experiences,” a program centered on delivering peer-to-peer tours and “insider” culture-immersion activities.

These handcrafted happenings are offered by local “micro-entrepreneurs,” feeding shared passion points for travelers and hosts alike. While Airbnb is still kicking the tires on the nascent initiative, we applaud the fresh thinking applied to facilitating true immersion for today’s travelers.

Key Takeaways 
  • There’s a growing disconnect between the hospitality industry and today’s modern traveler regarding what drives a winning travel experience. 
  • Frequent travelers of all generations share similar mindsets and travel values that often go underserved. 
  • Brands must focus on how they can tap into the universal mindset of today’s traveler — and facilitate holistic hospitality experiences that attract and serve that mindset. 


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