Are hotels playing a more central role in communities? Or have things fallen back to old habits?

There are plans in development for a series of storytelling festivals to be launched across communities all over the UK with the aim of inspiring children and families once again in the art of storytelling. The question was posed as to whether hotels can play a proactive role as host as the festivals and events are aimed of interacting with local schools and communities?

The view was that it may be easier with local heritage and arts venues. But is this correct? The view has long been that there is a stronger community role which can be played which in turn only serves to benefit the operation. Hospitality venues today are one of the central glues which keep people together.

It is very logical that all hotels possess community strategy and yet it is estimated, especially in city centres, that less than 20% of hotels do possess any in-depth strategy which seeks to interact and build strong relationships with a local community. The argument is that most hotels wait on the community to come to them rather than build a proactive strategic relationship.

It has led to some discussion as to what measurements are there which will show that a proactive strategy will provide a strong ROI. The counter argument, of course, is that it is too hard to measure but those hotels which do work harder in their relationships will benefit from stronger advocacy and attracting local talent.

There are many exceptional local hotels which undoubtedly do great activities. The question posed is whether it is city centre hotels which do enough?

In the pandemic, many argued that the relationships had improved but the concern in 2022 was that this was falling back into bad old habits.

The other growing argument is that many guests today want to stay in hotels which act as a portal to the local culture. They want more than just a hotel. They want to feel connected to the local community, culture, history and issues.

The perspective is that hotels can today act as:

  • An integrator of experiences
  • A portal to the local community and culture
  • To use their space to promote local communities and activities to attract new guests
  • That hotels are the shop window for the locality whether via its produce, its art, its design, its architecture, its events.

But how many are actively doing this? And is it how the industry will evolve?.
If one then returns to the storytelling festival concept, is this an opportunity which could be missed and which others will take?

Storytelling has long been central in bringing groups together via music festivals, theatre, art and stories. A story can be told in many different ways and all can have meaningful impact and provide inspiration across generations.

There is a more serious point at the heart of the concept’s development. Storytelling is one of the most important skills in the development of all talent and one which has been in danger of erosion. In olden times, many families would play charades, imaginery games and make up tales. Today the argument is that this activity has declined by around 40% across all families which of course will impact on core development as well as on group fun.

It seems a potentially lost opportunity if others possess the same belief. Will hotels step forward and grasp this chance to be involved and impactful?