Thursday, April 10, 2008

The hotel industry raises the stakes

I haven’t stayed at ANdAZ in London, but my son Ben sent me some intriguing info. This type of hotel is a new initiative by Hyatt and they have certainly learnt some new tricks. The hotel business today is a great example of how competition can transform an industry by raising what are table stakes. When I talk table stakes today, I mean absolute comfort, brilliant service, great food you actually want to eat and stunning decor. Ten years ago? Not so much.

ANdAZ has dispensed with the my-one’s-bigger-than-your's type lobby. Maybe you need somewhere to assemble the odd tour group, but most of us would prefer the lobby as a living room than a cattle yard. ANdAZ also understands that most of their guests will not be asking room service for a band-aid or another clean glass (if they’re not already there, you’re dead in the water anyway) but for things that are going to make their visit more fun, more interesting or more surprising. This is where ANdAZ gets adventurous.

During the London Book Fair, ANdAZ has a reader-in-residence. That’s right. Someone who is available to come to your room and read aloud to you. And if that’s not for you, how about their hiring Times journalist, Damian Barr, to talk with guests about the kind of books they like and make some hot recommendations. You can also book him for an entertaining lunch or dinner. In the Attraction Economy, people are going to drift away from anything that just offers up the same-old-same-old no matter how brilliantly it is done. If I were a hotel manager and I looked across my dining room and saw the inevitable single diners flicking through magazines as they ate their meals, I’d be deafened by warning bells. Sure, some of them might be very happy to be left alone, but we’re gregarious creatures, and as ANdAZ has figured, some of them might prefer being with friends.