Innovation drives changes in Australia’s hotel industry

Aloft Perth. Photo credit: Tourism Accommodation Australia

A new research report from Tourism Accommodation Australia, entitled "The Innovation Revolution Transforming Australia’s Hotel Industry," documents how new global and local hotel brands, designs, technologies and guest-centric services are changing the face of Australia’s accommodation sector.
The changes come at a time when Australia's hotel sector is undergoing its largest-ever expansion. Cities such as Perth, Brisbane, Canberra, Adelaide and Melbourne have already witnessed a significant rejuvenation of their hotel stock, while the Sydney hotel sector is at the start of its most dramatic expansionary phase since the 2000 Olympics. The largest growth has been in "lifestyle" hotel brands concentrating on experiential travel. Last year, Marriott brought its Aloft brand Down Under, and the company's Moxy brand is due to open soon, along with IHG's Indigo.  

“The impact of millennial and other new generations has prompted a complete renaissance in the products and services the hotel industry offers guests. New brands, new designs, new technologies and new guest-centric services are transforming Australia’s accommodation sector,” the report claims. "While the concentration of new hotel openings has been in cities such as Perth, Brisbane and Adelaide over the past four years, the new era of hotel development is sweeping across Australia, with 200 new or upgraded hotels scheduled to be launched by 2025.” These 200 hotels are expected to add around 30,000 guestrooms across all price points.

Modern Design

Tourism Accommodation Australia CEO Carol Giuseppi said that the massive expansion of Australia’s hotel industry—as well a renewed focus on design—would play a crucial role in sustaining Australia’s record-breaking tourism performance.
“The biggest trends influencing the new hotel design include an emphasis on localism, community, individualism, art and sustainability,” said Giuseppi in a statement. “Hotels are being designed to complement the local landscape, with street art, edgy design and a focus on local produce on restaurant, bar and function menus.”
These changes, Giuseppi added, are driven by new demands from travelers, particularly those in the millennial generation. “Technology has been a key focus for hotels. Not only are most Australian hotels offering at least some level of free Wi-fi, but connection speeds are faster and the new breed of hotels are offering casting capability to their in-room screens. Keyless entry to rooms has been introduced and increasingly guests will be able to select their specific room type in advance."
New demands have also driven changes to the design of hotel lobbies and reception areas, with “living rooms” encouraging socialization and quality dining options emphasizing localized fare. The new generation of hotels has attracted a new generation of designers, who are seizing the opportunity to make a statement with their designs. Significantly, the report says, hotel design today is aimed at complementing the landscape, becoming an integral component of the local area.

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The report touches on other notable design elements:
Co-working spaces
Hotels are increasingly being designed to cater for mobile workers. Singapore-based Next Story Group will launch its first combined co-working space and hotel brand called Kafnu in Sydney’s Alexandria in the next year.
Going natural
Hotel designers are increasingly incorporating natural design elements into hotels with vertical hydroponic gardens, indoor waterfalls, multilevel terraces and rustic wooden furnishings enabling guests to connect with nature.
Localized F&B
Hotel restaurants are being redesigned to provide more distinctive local experiences, with a focus on regional produce, wines and craft beers
Wellness options include yoga rooms, 24-hour gyms, and health-conscious menus

“The new wave of hotel development is covering all price points–from economy to luxury,” said Giuseppi. “New hotel design has allowed for rooms to be made more compact by better utilization of space and this has enabled hotel development costs to be kept competitive. Never before has the Australian hotel industry seen such cutting-edge innovation that is not only meeting changing travel trends, but in many cases anticipating them as well.”