Leading Meeting Professionals

Professional Convention Management Association

October 13 2014

The New Hotel That’s Reinventing What A Meeting Feels Like

By Corey Domek

Last month, PCMA covered the creative and mysterious method behind the
marketing of the first-ever Virgin Hotel. Sir Richard Branson, in his always-innovative approach to business, launched his new property on an unconventional foundation: rumors.

Now, the public is discovering which of those rumors are actually true. Virgin has unveiled the official website, and it’s clear that the brand is committed to breaking the traditional boundaries of the guest experience. From free Wi-Fi with no bandwidth restrictions to the promise of no hidden fees at checkout to an app that controls room temperature, the property is a preview of a new kind of hotel stay.

SEE ALSO: 3 Trends That Will Redefine Hotels

However, Virgin isn’t just focusing on distinguishing the property to individual business and leisure travelers. It’s hoping to attract creative meeting planners.

“We’re putting the fun back in function,” declares the hotel’s meetings and events website section.

How does it plan to do that? From fitness video games to mini golf in the hallways to complimentary flip-flops for the dance floor (here’s to you, attendee with the eight-inch heels), the hotel certainly sounds like it won’t be offering the typical meeting experience. Attendees won’t return to their rooms when they’re finished at that networking reception, either. Virgin prefers to call its sleeping quarters “chambers”, and each of them actually has two rooms: a dressing room and a sleeping lounge.

SEE ALSO: 5 One-Of-A-Kind Hotels In The US

What Will Virgin Mean For The Rest Of The Industry?

Sure, every traveler may not want to play life-sized Jenga in the hotel, and the Virgin property is too small to cater to massive crowds. However, the announcement could carry some consequences for the entire hotel industry. From the promise of “no nickel and diming, no charging extra for bandwidth” to “minibars stocked at street prices”, the property aims to eliminate complaints about extra fees. This year, hotels are expected to collect a record-setting $2.25 billion in fees and surcharges, and it’s safe to say that the majority of travelers are tired of additional costs popping up on their bills. In fact, the number one hotel guest pet peeve is expensive Internet.

What do you think the future holds for the hotel experience? Have you seen any properties experiment with particularly bold new ideas? Go to Catalyst to share your thoughts.

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