IRVINE, CA—Like multifamily properties, hotels are beginning to target specific audiences in their quest to attract guests. As GlobeSt.com reported earlier this week, R.D. Olson Construction is beginning construction on a six-story, 221-room Courtyard by Marriott hotel in Anaheim that appeals to families visiting nearby Disneyland. We caught up with Bill Wilhelm, EVP of Irvine-based hotel developer R.D. Olson, to discuss how broad this type of targeting is, how it impacts guests and other trends he’s seeing in hotel builds.
GlobeSt.com: Is this type of targeting a widespread trend for hotels?
Wilhelm: It definitely is a trend that we’re starting to see across the board out here on the West Coast, not only with our internal development group, but also with our third-party group. It’s really three tiers: culture, family and geographic. One of the projects we have going is the LAX Sheraton, on which we’re doing major renovations right now. There, the focus is on Asian culture, so we’re making changes to the amenities and venues within the property that focus on the culture, such as offering Asian menus and a translating service.
In properties like the Anaheim Courtyard, the focal point is families, with Disneyland nearby. Legoland Hotel in Carlsbad has very similar types of characteristics. It’s a resort and lifestyle experience for the family, so we wanted to include as many amenities as possible so that families can enjoy the property. It’s much more than dining and a pool. For example, we’re featuring bunk beds in the guest rooms. It’s like home, but more of an experience.
With geographic, if you’re in a college community, you’re gearing amenities more toward families visiting the student in college or professors visiting for lectures. We’re also seeing in L.A. boutique-type properties that are trying to appeal to people who like the entertaining element: skybars on the roofdeck, private elevators, that sort of lifestyle. This is Downtown in the Arts District, grabbing from individuals who want to spend a night or two in Downtown L.A., trying to pull in that kind of guest.
GlobeSt.com: Does this focus limit the type of guest who will stay at any given hotel?
Wilhelm: I think in today’s market it probably is sufficient because tourism is starting to pick up. The business traveler is starting to pick up, and so is leisure. Hotels are starting to see increases in their occupancies. The Asian culture is really starting to increase tourism within the US, and Chinese developers are buying hotel properties because they see that influx of a captive audience.
GlobeSt.com: What’s the next phase for hotels?
Wilhelm: The Millennial push is a big push right now. A lot of hotel groups are looking at how they can capitalize on the Millennial push and create properties they’re looking for; for example, designers are offering a different approach on finishes in the rooms. We’re continuing to see that exterior/interior element where you’re pulling the exterior into the interior and vice versa. It’s truly a refreshing experience. More people want to feel like they’re at home but getting amenities and pampering, even in the smaller hotels. Various clients are looking at opportunities based on who they believe their customer base is. You want to provide as many amenities as you possibly can.