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Exploring Immersive Hotels with National Geographic

For a long time, hotels were left out (or opted out) of the experiential ecosystem in most parts of the world. No guest would be caught lingering around the property mid-day when there was a world of culture and adventure outside. They'd return late in the day, weary and ready for sleep.

It was as if the hotel was in its own bubble, an imaginary boundary drawn that once crossed meant you were entering into a realm outside of the destination. And not in a good way. "Just relax - if you want culture, you'll have to go back out into the world” this line communicated.

And to this day we still see this rampant across the industry. But not everywhere! Immersive hospitality is on the rise. And I am excited to be a part of the conversation! Take a moment to read more in this insightful ​National Geographic article on immersive hotels that I was honored to contribute to.

I was asked recently why this is something I care about. And my answer was this: no one likes feeling like a tourist. To be a tourist is to be an outsider. Hotels have immense potential to become more meaningful third places, gathering spaces that close the barrier between traveler and community, while revealing the unique traditions and ways of life.

When you close people off to the local culture, you’re not supporting them in tapping into the revitalizing & transformative power of travel. I can picture a world in which all hospitality properties offer more than just a bed, breakfast, yoga, and a pool… can’t you?

Siteminder’s ​Changing Traveler report​ recently found that travelers want their accommodation host to have an active role in making their trips more meaningful. Out of 10k travelers, 87% reported they appreciate if their host enables them to learn more about the culture and history of the destination, “acting as a portal to the people and the stories of the local community.”

One interesting example of this is Fogo Island Inn’s Community Host Program. It matches guests with a lifelong Fogo Islander for customized half-day orientations about the island’s natural and cultural heritage.

I've been keeping a very close eye on the experiential hospitality world since 2018, and I can say this is the first year that I've felt a real shift towards hotels actually prioritizing this. No doubt it will be another 5+ years before we start to see it adopted meaningfully at a mass scale, but I'm excited for the future of hotels becoming more experiential and immersive.


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