The guest is forever changing and hotels are often chasing the current trends and attempting to equal the guest desires.
To truly match and surpass this expectation a hotel has to predict what the guest may want next, rethink their offering or for W London hotel, completely turn something upside down to make it truly memorable.
Being able to predict the guest’s movements is a rare gift and one which brings with it a touch of risk. However, when an experience hits the mark it can create waves across the market and bring guests from around the world. W London, located on the corner of Leicester Square, has recently introduced their own trend prediction, a new in- room service, a luxury mobile cocktail bar named the Mega Bar.
“We are industry disruptors in the luxury hotel market, pushing boundaries with innovative new thinking.” Explains Martijn, who has been General Manager of W London since 2016. The relaxed Dutch GM is visibly in tune with the hotel, its guests and the market. He proudly explains how W Hotels are charged with redefining the hospitality sector and how W London wants to be the best at doing this. With the group on track to reach 75 hotels by 2020, Martijn has his work cut out but is embracing the challenge.
The mobile cocktail bar is linked to the hotel’s ‘W Insider’, an in-the-know tastemaker who sets the stage for amplified guest experiences, offering insider insight and tips and is part of W Hotels ‘Whatever/Whenever’ service. “This is where we grant any wishes of the guest, we make special moments in all shapes and sizes and all we say is that it just has to be legal.” Martijn jokes.
“When I first came to the hotel I received an email from a guest who had looked me up on LinkedIn. They explained they wanted to surprise their wife and told me what their partner likes. They said she loved dolphins and told me her favourite drink. I forwarded all of this to our Insider who explained that this was actually quite common to receive and so we set up sea life music in the room, an inflatable dolphin in the bath tub and prepared her favourite drink. They were thrilled and it is this experience we try to offer to all guests.”
Martijn believes this is what makes them different to other properties within the luxury segment. “The team are challenged each time and we all love trying to surpass the requests we receive”. The guest experience is high on the list for the hotel but the team also understand that the staff, who they call ‘talents’, need to see and understand the offering. “We have an internal Facebook page where we post photos, videos and other messages. We want to look after our staff and share with them. An idea may start big but we know they eventually are the ones putting on the show and so their engagement and comments are welcomed.”
The new in-room experience includes a personal mixologist, sound system, disco ball and unique choice of cocktails. These come with additional add-on’s, such as a pair of sunglasses for their ‘Here Comes The Sun’ cocktail. Inspired by a music freight case, the Bar can be wheeled into each suite.
With W London’s location in the centre of the capital, it raises the question of whether the hotel is trying to keep their guests at the property to ensure they spend their whole night there. “We get lots of nightlife seekers who may book us for the location. We want to show our commitment and passion for creating new and next experiences for them. We have guests who use the Mega Bar as the start of their night, go out for dinner and come back to the hotel for drinks and dancing in our secret nightclub.” Hidden behind a door named Room 913, W London has a hideout overlooking Leicester Square with bar, dancefloor, DJ’s and a huge disco ball.
W Hotels are a strong brand in their market and Martijn believes this helps with the introduction of new experiences. “We often have guests visit that have stayed in a W Hotel before, they understand our ethos and know we push boundaries. Our role is to surprise them and do something completely unexpected. For example we recently created a pretend snowstorm within the hotel longue. We are close to the theatres, the restaurants and the cool vibe of Soho but if we can enhance a stay then we will.”
The Mega Bar is not the first experience with a difference that the hotel has introduced. ‘Walk Out Wardrobe’ was a revolutionary in-hotel designer-wardrobe in partnership with Girl Meets Dress. “They have 4,000 outfits to choose from and so our guests can select designer dresses, which they can wear on a night out. We were the first hotel to introduce this service and it has been very popular.”
Being first is something Martijn and his team work hard on. With many hotels focusing this year on wellbeing and looking at how the guest no longer wants to indulge as much as they used too, Martijn is looking at how they may actually want both. “Our AWAY Spa provides treatments which make our guests red-carpet ready, they can use the spa as a sanctuary and revitalise their body. However with our in- room experiences we can then reenergise them for a night out.
“Linked to this is our healthy food offering where guests can enjoy superfoods in their room. It’s perfect for recovery from the night before and allows them to go again the next night. We call this ‘Fuel’ and focus on a detox, retox, repeat schedule.”
Although the Mega Bar may appeal to leisure guests on the weekend, Martijn explains how during the week the hotel has a high percentage of corporate guests that also look to have fun. “They stay a few nights for business, in the day you see them in their suits, but by night they have become less formal and want to have a good time.”
The hotel’s strategy is to promote their exciting offering through online channels and ensure their experiences are aligned to their philosophy of being what’s new and next. They recently teamed up with several young fashion designers during London Fashion Week, offering them a platform to present their collections and designs. “This allows them to showcase their creative work in a pop-up style within the hotel. At the last event we held a virtual reality show which included attendees being able to view a catwalk through the technology.” Martijn explains.
W London is challenging the current thinking of the guest and some may argue goes against current trends but they are quite possibly predicting the next moves. The in-room experiences have hit the mark with a certain calibre of guest and their bold approach may just motivate other hotels to rethink their offering for future generations. To defy traditional thinking should be embraced and the results carefully monitored, if guests have an endless appetite for something ‘new’ Martijn and his team may have chosen the best road to become an even more powerful London destination.