You’ll see that the vacation photos of your grandparents are very different from your own.

Your photos are likely to be of your favorite food trucks, not the themed dinner they attended in a hotel.

Travel and tourism have changed dramatically in the last few decades. Hotels must find new ways to attract guests and keep them coming back year after year.

Geraldine Guichardo is the Head of Americas Research for JLL’s Hotels & Hospitality Group. She says, “What customers want from their hotel stays is always changing.” Consumers used to be most concerned with a robust loyalty program and large guest rooms. They want more unique experiences that are influenced by the local culture.

Hotels in both small and large cities that have a good location and excellent transport links need to be more creative when thinking of ways to offer guests something they cannot get at another hotel. It goes beyond providing multiple charging sockets and fast and reliable wifi for uploading holiday photos to social media before flying home.

Unique experiences

Experience is the key to travel today. When they travel to new destinations, consumers want to experience other cultures and live as locals. Modern hotels are designed to reflect the best of their cities, from food and drink offerings to preparation.

Nashville’s Urban Cowboy Hotel is a good example. The hotel, which is made up of eight suites located in a Victorian house, offers a communal space for budding musicians and whiskey lovers. The hotel is situated between farm-to-table restaurants and live music venues, allowing guests to enjoy the best of country music whether they are on the property or exploring nearby.

Consumers can also benefit from appealing to their specific interests. Hotels create experiences to attract people who share a common interest. Foodies, art enthusiasts, fitness fans, etc., can all book rooms at hotels that feel like they were built for them.

The Zero George Hotel in Charleston, South Carolina, offers cooking classes taught by local chefs. The hotel offers guests the opportunity to enjoy gourmet food and learn to prepare a new dish without ever leaving. The Thompson Seattle offers yoga classes on its rooftop lounge. Guests can take in the breathtaking views of Seattle while enjoying the health benefits.

Out-of-the-box spaces

Why stay in an ordinary hotel when you can stay in places that are unique and have a unique history?

Old No. 77 Hotel & Chandlery is located in New Orleans in a former coffee warehouse that was turned into a general wholesale business. This company sold goods to ships preparing long voyages. The hotel lobby still features painted signs and exposed brick from its days as a busy warehouse.

Many travelers, particularly younger generations, vacation with social media in mind. “They want to take interesting photos of beautiful places and share them with their family and friends,” says Guichardo. Hotels in unique locations encourage organic sharing. This gives them additional brand exposure through user-generated content.

Many other hotels in the U.S. use this design style to great effect. The National Register of Historic Places lists 21c Oklahoma City, which is the former Ford Motor Company Assembly Plant. The hotel designer preserved many historic features in a nod towards the industrial heritage of the building – large steel windows and high ceilings, for example.

Look out for Others

Hotels are becoming more involved in philanthropic and sustainable projects. They do this by aligning with organizations that have high ethical standards and fundraising for charities. Hilton, for instance, allows HHonors members to donate their loyalty points and match each donation with a cash contribution. According to research, younger consumers are more inclined to purchase products and services that support charities and to recommend these businesses to friends.

Many hotels in the U.S. now work directly with charities to improve relationships within their communities. Some run training schemes to help local teenagers who come from poor communities, while others support local causes. The Chatwal New York City, for example, has partnered up with Children of Promise. This New York-based charity helps children with parents who are incarcerated by offering academic support, recreational activities, and one-on-one mentoring.

The best hotels are the ones with creative ideas.

No checklist meets all the requirements for a modern city hotel. The hotels that do it right all have something in common: they offer their guests a unique experience, whether it is a cultural event or a place to sleep at night. Each hotel made Travel + Leisure’s list of the top city hotels in America.

Guichardo says that hotels that embrace local culture and provide guests with memorable experiences create a niche for themselves and gain loyal customers. As travel habits evolve, hotels that are able to adapt will enjoy long-term success.

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