Posted: May 20, 2009
Not your father’s hotel
Younger travelers seek everyday lifestyle amenities at hotelsBy Patricia Kaowthumrong
Sitting in a one-bedroom suite at the Cambria Suites hotel in Fort Collins, hotel chain president William Edmundson said the Cambria Suites brand was molded from scratch to meet the needs of a new generation of travelers.
There’s been a major change in what generation of travelers spends the most money while traveling, Edmundson said. Baby Boomers were formerly the biggest spenders, but now the X and Y Generations – generally anyone between the ages of 20 and 45 – have taken over.
And the 4-year-old Cambria Suites brand, an offshoot of Choice Hotels, was started from scratch with these younger travelers’ preferences in mind.
Edmundson visited the Fort Collins hotel on May 18 as part of several site visits the Bethesda, M.D.-based executive planned to make in Colorado. Cambria Suites hotels are now primarily located in small to mid-size markets, but there are plan to expand into larger cities, including Los Angeles and New York City.
“What Baby Boomers expect when they travel is not what (younger) people want now,” Edmundson said. “They want to be able to take their lifestyle with them while they travel.”
That means younger travelers want comfort and convenience: state-of-the-art workout facilities, organic food, flat-screen TVs and free wireless Internet throughout the hotel. And they want it for an affordable price, preferably well under $200 a night.
While showing off the Fort Collins Cambria Suites, Edmundson pointed out features like the two-story lobby, which the hotel calls a “living area,” the business center, which instead of being closed off behind glass doors is open to the lobby and the "Refresh" area, which includes a barista bar, complete with alcoholic beverages and upscale food around the clock.
The "Refresh" area at Cambria Suites' Fort Collins hotel
Another shift in the travel industry, Edmundson said, is the fine line between work and leisure has become increasingly unclear. With new mobile phone and laptop technology, people are able to work all hours of the day.
To Edmundson, the new trend in hotel design is not about giving travelers the bare minimum for rock-bottom prices, but it is more about anticipating guests’ needs.
“The piece of the travel pie is definitely smaller, and we’re out there trying to make sure we’re getting the largest piece of that pie that we can,” Edmundson said.
He said that many travelers are “trading down” from more expensive hotels and, instead, are choosing to stay at Cambria Suites, which strives to offer the same amenities that are standard at more upscale hotels.
Cambria Suites hotel guests rate the chain 9.4 out of 10 for “likelihood to recommend,” according to Medallia, Inc., which provides “enterprise feedback management solutions.” Edmundson said it’s the highest score for customer feedback ever received by a hotel chain.
The third Cambria Suites hotel in Colorado, located in Aurora near Denver International Airport, is set to open June 18. There are 13 Cambria Suites nationwide. Edmundson expects there will be 20 open by the end of the year. The Fort Collins location opened in August 2008.
Edmundson, who joined Choice Hotels to help launch the Cambria Suites brand in 2005, said he “learned things from the ground up” working for his family’s hotel business in Texas.
“It’s really a great brand,” he said of Cambria Suites. “I’m really proud to be a part of a brand that’s on the front end of a new generation of travelers.”
Patricia Kaowthumrong is a student at the University of Colorado School of Journalism and Mass Communication. Contact her at Patricia.Kaowthumrong@colorado.edu.