by Bob O'Connor | July 12, 2017

Bob O'Connor, director of sales and marketing, Renaissance Chicago O'HareThere's no denying the minimalism trend in hospitality sweeping across the industry, with the adage "less is more" never more relevant, thanks to room square-footage shrinking as guests decide to spend more time elsewhere. Catering largely to Millennial and business travelers, hotels are developing creative ideas and innovative design solutions to address the shift in how guests interact with their space, new preferences and technology.

As we slim down in space and stuff, we need to prioritize personal recognition in ways that are far from minimal. Now more than ever, guests -- Millennials and beyond -- often expect some level of personalization; even small gestures can help balance the removal of those traditional features that lead some guests to perceive their experience as less than memorable.

Where we can make up for the "lost" amenities are new, unexpected perks. We start with the business traveler -- who embodies the greatest potential for a return stay and receptivity to trying new programs. For example, one Renaissance property has created a secret in-room dining menu that rotates monthly for business travelers only. It's simple (less than five items) and has proven to be a favorite among recurring guests. Leaning on in-house F&B is easy to execute and offers some creative freedom -- e.g., name a drink after the guest who stays with you 50 weeks out of the year, send up their favorite beverage upon check-in or offer late-night local favorites.

Localization is here to stay, so we continue to capitalize on travelers' curiosity and their need for an insider moment. The San Antonio Marriott Northwest created the San Antonio Two-Step as a surprise for a recent group -- a small bottle of local tequila, a shot glass and a bottle of Alamo Beer -- leading to a second booking later this summer.

But, despite these very real trends, there are amenities and guest touchpoints that we should never give up -- the no-brainers that we know must stay: high-quality WiFi and reward points. I point these out because though some in the industry are following a new approach similar to certain major aircraft carriers, I think we need to be careful in how closely we follow those models of à la carte everything pricing.

Bob O'Connor is the director of sales and marketing at the Renaissance Chicago O'Hare.