At the Wyndham Grand Orlando hotel in Florida, meals are created with some of the latest culinary technologies, including anti-griddles, liquid nitrogen tanks and Pacojets. Guests at the Hyatt Regency Santa Clara are trying out a new booth for soundproof worldwide teleconferencing. If these new features go over well with customers, they will stay. “In the past, hotels would develop the new idea at headquarters using focus groups and research, and then roll it out,” said Berkita S. Bradford, assistant professor of hospitality and tourism management at St. John’s University. “Now, they go right to their guests” to get the immediate feedback they can use to continue, modify or cancel the project. On-site testing of new ideas is also happening on a hotel-by-hotel basis, as hospitality companies across the price spectrum encourage individual locations to express themselves and offer a local difference to their guests, said Steven A. Carvell, associate dean for academic affairs at the Cornell University School of Hotel Administration. Until recently, the goal of a chain hotel was to deliver a consistent level of service that varied little, according to Jeff Semenchuk, Hyatt Hotels’ chief of innovation, so customers anywhere around the world knew what to expect. Procedures were dictated from the top and checklists were the focus, “but now there is a sameness across the industry,” he said, and some hotel operators and executives are looking for new ways to make their hotels stand out. “We’ve begun to ask managers to think about the experiences they want guests to have, not if they have the right amount of chairs in the conference room,” he said. Get the full story at The New York Times