MARCH 2019 – As part of her ongoing series about “exciting developments in the travel industry over the next five years,” travel writer and marketer Candice Georgiadis recently chatted with the Chicago Athletic Association hotel’s own Director of Programming, Jill Kaye. They talked about what’s in store for the industry in the coming years, and why rich communal experience and inclusive event outreach is the way of the future in hospitality.
“Hotels are moving in the direction of public open floor plans to accommodate locals looking for a place to work and lounge to making the guest feel like a local through your atmosphere,” says Jill.
This interview originally appeared with Authority Magazine on March 7, 2019. Get a glimpse of Candice and Jill’s conversation, and be sure to read the full interview here.
Candice Georgiadis: What innovations that [is the Chicago Athletic Association hotel] bringing to the travel and hospitality industries?
Jill Kaye: While many hotels today are putting on programs and events onsite, the Chicago Athletic Association hotel’s pillars are rooted in expansive cultural moments — from dinosaur bone-digging with a Paleontologist from the Field Museum, to enjoying Lollapalooza artists performing in intimate hotel locations during festival week. We strike a dynamic balance between having fun, continuing education, and inspiring our guests. We’ve also bolstered some serious partners in the Chicago community, and we wouldn’t be as successful as we are without them.
CG: Which “pain point” are you trying to address by introducing this innovation?
JK: The Chicago Athletic Association hotel has a unique history, as it was a men’s-only private club for 114 years. Today, we are working to flip the script by being an inclusive and diverse place to meet, eat, drink, and play. Most importantly, we create an environment where guests can choose their own adventure within our walls where we are redefining what it means to be a hotel in the 21st century. We have a lot of fun, we make personal connections with our visitors, and we make lasting impressions.
CG: How do you envision that this might disrupt the status quo?
JK: We’re going to see a lot more hospitality projects activate differently; be it hotel programs, or be it an adoption of the latest tech. In lifestyle travel, we’re all striving to offer the most unique experience while finding that key balance of hands-off / hands-on with the guest. We’re entering an age of truly authentic, curated moments.
CG: Can you share 5 examples of how travel and hospitality companies will be adjusting over the next five years to the new ways that consumers like to travel?
1. Tech: Travelers are coming to expect that they’ll be ordering room service from their personal phones just like they can at home.
2. Health and Wellness: Hotels are going above and beyond the standard gym to offer personalized sessions with trainers or community partners, and making sure a sense of wellness is integrated into the guests’ entire stay.
3. Amenities: It’s our job to be of service to our guest from the major offerings and restaurants, down to the extremely thoughtful amenities and small touches. A growth in “borrowing” and sharing culture of services and items for hotel guests will continue to grow.
4. Programming: Through the curation of meaningful events and experiences at the hotel, this allows the property to engage guests and leave memorable impressions like never before.
5. Co-Working: It’s no secret that hotels are moving in the direction of public open floor plans to accommodate locals looking for a place to work and lounge to making the guest feel like a local through your atmosphere.
CG: How would you describe your “perfect vacation experience”?
JK: I’m partial to the hands off / hands on experience. I like to be able to ask for assistance if needed, but I also never want to feel like something is being sold to me. I’ll do minimal research before a trip beyond booking my accommodations so I am forced to talk with the locals. I like to spend my morning doing activities, my afternoon relaxing, and my evening taking that local suggestion for a nice meal and great cocktail. At the end of the day, I want to retire to silky soft sheets, cool air, and a good book.