Maybe it's just that here in Atlanta we're fixated on the drought and our dwindling water supply but we're sure seeing a lot of underwater, and underwater-themed resorts:
Huvafen Fushi, a luxury resort in the Maldives is "Home to the world's first underwater spa," where underwater treatment rooms provide a view beneath the waves.
Jules Undersea Lodge in Key Largo is a former marine biology lab where guests scuba dive 21 feet beneath the surface of the sea and enter the lodge through a 'wet dock.'
The Burj al Arab hotel on the coast of Dubai resembles a billowing sail. Al Mahara, the hotel's underwater-themed restaurant, is designed around a giant glass aquarium and is accessible by an elevator that simulates a submarine ride.
Hydropolis Crescent Group will open their first underwater hotel in Qingdao, China in 2008.
The Poseidon Resort, Fiji, opening in 2008, will offer 24 underwater suites perched atop a tropical reef 40 feet below the surface: 70% of the room will be glass.
While creating an undersea experience isn't for most companies, thinking about how the environment factors into your customer experience can provide some great opportunities for differentiation, whether its freshening store interiors with new colors, lighting, different types and levels of music, etc. And don't forget the impact of smell - Is there anyone who doesn't associate Ikea with the intoxicating scent of freshly baked cinnamon buns?
Green is Good
Some hotels are going green; customers think that's nice but just 13% would be willing to pay higher rates says the latest Travel Horizons survey by the Travel Industry Association and Ypartnership.
Going green is a good thing...just make sure you have a clear strategy for why you're doing it and don't assume that customers will help pick up the tab. According to an Ipsos-Reid study cited by the Center for Media Research, 70% of Americans think 'green advertising' is a marketing ploy.
Pure Room, a company specializing in "allergy friendly rooms" says 59% of travelers would choose a hotel that offers uber clean rooms over a comparable hotel without them, and most of them would be willing to pay a premium. Pure Room cleans room surfaces of bacteria, pollen, dust, dust mites, viruses, airborne contaminants and odors. Pure rooms appeal to health-conscious patrons, dispel the "ick factor," and provide a way for hotels to differentiate their product. Over 2 dozen hotel brands offer a limited number of pure rooms, including Marriott, Hampton Inns, Crowne Plaza and Sheraton.
With bird flu, MRSA, and the increasing incidence of drug resistant Staph, customers are taking a closer look at environments where they are at higer risk of contracting germs. Many grocery stores, for example, now offer antibacterial towelettes so customers can wipe down the handles and seats of their carts. Brands and companies need to make sure appropriate processes are in place, reassure customers that they have taken the steps necessary to protect their well-being, and leverage those processes to differentiate their offerings.
Photos: Top photo from HuvafenFushi.com. Bottom photos from BurjalArab.com. Pure logo from pureroom.com
The Hotel Aquatic