Iberonews reported that European boutique hotel chain NH Hoteles posted exponential growth in the first nine months of 2010, taking the industry by storm. The article (written in Spanish) cites many reasons for the growth, including references to the diversification and occupation of NH Hoteles in several emerging or recovering markets. However, I suspect another important reason for their success lies in their innovations in customer service and the guest experience, which the article only briefly touches on.
Reminiscent of what Kimpton does in the States, NH Hoteles offers a unique guest experience with ideas like rooms designed specifically for women travelers, individual decor for each property, a separate division for creating high-end restaurant experiences at the properties, etc. Their newest invention strips down the hotel guest experience to its essentials — reliable F&B, leisure/business needs, escape, relaxation — and combines them together into one ‘nhube’.
The ‘nhube’ is a multi-faceted area where guests can interact, watch the game, surf the net, listen to music, and enjoy high-quality food at the same time — food from none other than Ferran Adria of El Bulli fame. NH Hoteles has tapped into what today’s guests value most in their experiences, drawing in elements of social networking, celebrity chef cuisine, and modern design to create excellent overall value. The ‘nhube’ atmosphere provides a comfortable area that enhances the guest experience, and it shows that NH is embracing consumer trends and executing on what it learns.
So is this the next big thing in the industry? Who knows. The lesson here is not that hotel consulting companies should copy the nhube and tell clients to put a lounge/sitting area/library/restaurant space in their hotels. Rather, we should learn how one company listened to its guests and raised hotel service standards and the guest experience. And with El Bulli fully booked until they close for good, now is as good a time as ever to try an ‘nhube’.