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Personalization Is No Longer Limited to Luxury Hotels

Hotels at every level of the global hospitality market are adding more personalized touches to make customers feel valued

by Todd Plummer

October 17, 2023

Las Ventanas al Paraíso, San José del Cabo, Mexico / Photo: Courtesy of Barbara Kraft

Booking the John Adams Presidential Suite at the Boston Harbor Hotel comes with a class of personalization well beyond the breakfast buffet or late checkout that entices mere mortals. In advance of a stay, the hotel inquires with guests about a range of touchpoints that can be customized: which brands of tipples and snacks should fill the minibar; which flowers should and should not be featured in the arrangements around the suite; and which music should be playing upon arrival. All of this can be yours for a cool $15,000 a night.

Walker Hotel, New York City / Photo: Courtesy of Walker Hotel Greenwich

Of course, such customized details have long been the norm in the luxury echelon—specifically regarding services and amenities offered as part of the room rate, not as an à la carte add-on one can book through a concierge. Peninsula Hotels from Beverly Hills to Paris are famous for monogramming pillowcases with their guests’ initials. Reserve an Oceanview Suite or higher at Las Ventanas al Paraíso, a Rosewood Resort in Cabo San Lucas, and your room comes with a Bed Sheet Menu that includes four different types of linens to suit your preference (a dedicated butler will note your selection for next time). And each check-in at The Oberoi Rajvilas in Jaipur, India, begins with a shower of rose petals and a garland around the neck. When you spend like royalty, you’re treated as such.

But personalization is no longer relegated to the realm of luxury. Hotels at every level of the global hospitality market are adding more personalized touches to make customers feel valued. In an Internet age when hotel reviews are democratized and travel influencers show off their insider experiences on social media, the expectations of hotel guests at every price point have grown.

According to McKinsey & Company, not only do 71 percent of consumers now expect companies to deliver personalized interactions, but 76 percent get frustrated when they don’t. Personalization, therefore, is an effective strategy to encourage repeat guests.

Shinola Hotel, Detroit / Photo: Courtesy of Shinola Hotel

The Walker Hotels—two boutique sister properties in TriBeCa and Greenwich Village, where rates can start as low as $239—have one-upped Peninsula’s pillowcase-embroidery game. They not only offer pillowcases embroidered with a guest’s initials or Instagram handle (the better to show off what specialized service you’re receiving), but can also engrave Walker dog tags with your furry companion’s name. And though the Shinola Hotel in Detroit will preinterview you about minibar offerings tailored to your specific preference, they’ll also cart in extra fridges or microwaves to accommodate whatever you plan on cooking. Low-cost, high-impact touches are a way to spruce up any guest’s stay.

At the Civilian hotel in Hell’s Kitchen, New York, the approach to personalization goes a step further: It is a means to increase perceived value. The hotel’s “Basic” rate includes a room, free Wi-Fi and not much else—but at the time of booking, guests can choose from a menu of services they’d like to add on to their stay, such as daily housekeeping for $15 or a day pass to boutique gym TMPL for $20. For some low-season nights, you can get a room for approximately $259, a rate unheard of for a design-forward property in Manhattan.