Published on: October 1, 2009Now available on iTunes…
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Hi, I’m Kevin Coupe and this is MorningNewsBeat Radio, available on iTunes and brought to you this week by Webstop, experts in the art of retail website design.
There was a fascinating piece on Fast Company.com the other day, looking at something called the Radical Innovation in Hospitality Awards, which recognize thought leadership in the hotel business. The ideas don't have to be working or even, apparently, functional – what they have to do is demonstrate the recognition of a need or opportunity and an innovative approach to addressing them.
For example, one of the four finalists was something called the Cliff Hanger, which is described as a “temporary, modular concept that can be strapped to any dramatic, vertical site, from the walls of the Grand Canyon to the Golden Gate Bridge, giving guests inside a feeling of being completely immersed in an environment. Using vertical, structural tress suspended with tension rods, the hotel can be easily secured and removed, reducing the hotel's ecological footprint on the site itself and removing all traces of the hotel and human impact as one leaves. A stack of individual guest rooms one on top of each other maximizes the drama of the surrounding environment and leaves a guest to enjoy the panoramic views without the bustle usually found around these popular tourist sites.”
Another finalist was the Bucket List, which Fast Company says “uses a combination of eco-friendly design, modular accommodations, and mobility solutions to bring these extraordinary must-see locations to the Baby Boomer generation and their extended families.” The beauty of this concept is that it can be located anywhere from Africa to Alaska, and addresses the specific desire of people my age – much as I hate to admit it – to fulfill certain dreams before we kick the bucket.
Yet another finalist was something called the Zephyr, described as an innovative use of existing slow-speed railroad tracks around the country to create a train experience closer to a luxury cruise line: Fast Company writes: “More amenities like larger guest rooms, entertainment and fine dining will be brought onboard, turning the excursion into an experience in and of itself. Travelers will go from destination to destination in the evenings and park at stations during the day for excursions into cities across the country.
And finally, there was the winner…which happens to exist. The Pixel Hotel, in Linz, Austria, “offers decentralized accommodations in different venues which are sprinkled all over the city. A network of uniquely-designed rooms, each with their own personality, give visitors the feeling of staying in a private apartment, and offer more privacy than the standard hotel. The Pixel's rooms are also prime examples of adaptive reuse, carving out hotel space in previously vacant spaces like factories … Mobile receptionists and cleaners who travel between the spaces are contracted on demand, and a guest 24/7 emergency phone number is provided in case urgent assistance is required.”
At some level, all of these sound pretty cool, and I can imagine myself trying any of them, given the opportunity.
But the bigger message here is the notion of innovative thinking – of not thinking about the hospitality business in the same old way, with the same old offerings and the same old rules.
Even in these economic tough times, it will be the people and companies that think in broad and strategic terms – identifying new needs and opportunities, looking for the niche that does not yet exist, trying to find the angle not yet tried, looking for a unique marriage of design and function – that ultimately will be the winners. Or at least the survivors. The rest, I fear, will be victims or at least victims-in-waiting, as they remain shackled to old concepts, old ways of doing business, old perceptions of the customer base.
In 2009 and beyond, the ability to embrace change and foster innovation is a necessary component of leadership, and what separates business and thought leaders from mere managers.
For MorningNewsBeat Radio, I’m Kevin Coupe.
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