Hotels Using First-Mover Advantage in Destinations Off the Beaten Path

Skift grip

It’s the classic chicken-and-egg dilemma, but more and more hotels are stepping up and building in remote areas – confident travelers and businesses will follow.

Carley Thornel

When Banyan Tree Group became the first international hotel group to build a property in the Maldives 30 years ago, there were only a handful of flights in and out of the country. But the archipelago has since become a honeymoon destination as warm – and lofty – as its sunny shores.

Being first in a destination can not only help establish a hotel brand, but also position it to drive local growth and economic development. Setting up before competitors can help hotel companies attract travelers to destinations they might not otherwise have considered.

“A typical hotel group would go to a city, a safe place that’s been tried and tested, so especially if you’re new to the game, you’re safe,” said Eddy See, President and CEO of Banyan. Tree, which will launch five new brands in Africa and Japan by 2025.

“We usually like to pride ourselves on having first-mover advantage and setting the pace for others to follow.”

Cities aren’t exactly the safe bet for the modern traveler as they once were, which has put Banyan Tree and others willing to get out on a limb – and off the beaten track – in a better position than just five years ago.

John Flannigan, owner and founder of Wylder Hotels, believes the Wylder Tilghman Islandwhich opened in 2018 just off the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland, has benefited from its status as the only luxury property on the enclave of about 1,000 people.

“People who come to our resort spend a lot of money in the area. We have seen housing values ​​go up, jobs are being created,” Flannigan said.

“Locals like to come and meet and engage guests. But we also do community history talks – these are opportunities you don’t get in a more developed area.

The same is true in Eugene, Oregon for Obie Hospitality. “Our hotels are really focused on community integration and sharing with guests and that’s a big part of what we’ve done at Inn at 500 Capitol and our Eugene properties with unique, boutique and convenient experiences” , said Nicole Roselio, Vice President of Obie. president of marketing and design.

At Inn at the 5th in Eugene, for example, these experiences include tastings of seldom-tasted wines from southern Oregon’s Willamette Valley, classes with a local Olympian, and bedroom furniture that reuses wood from the one of Nike’s original buildings. The city – dubbed TrackTown USA – will later this year become the first in the United States to host the Athletics World Championshipswhich will draw attention to the birthplace of the sportswear giant.

Obie got a leg up on the competition by opening in 2012, seven years ahead of other high-end properties, including a Graduate Hotel. Roselio says the strategic investment has kept pace with the expansion of the nearby University of Oregon campus while giving its brand a foothold.

“You know that families are going to come here not only for four years, but also for campus tours. We can be their home away from home, and we’ve built those relationships,” she said.

“But what we have also done here has helped raise awareness of this destination.”