Five Successful Models of Incorporating Heritage into Hotel Development
By Larry K. Kimball Director of Hotel Development, C. W. Clark, Inc. | April 30, 2010
Developers fortunate enough to have an opportunity to develop hotels in or near heritage areas have a duty to incorporate history into their project. Cultural heritage activities are one of tourism's biggest market opportunities but how to capture it? This article outlines five models to profitably attract and retain those visitors and their discretionary dollars:
- Select site with marketable and sustainable heritage attributes
- Integrate the hotel into the community
- Design heritage into the facility
- Develop a consistent visitor message
- Create heritage daily
The resulting historic hospitality will add to the richness of both the guest experience and the community.
Marketable and Sustainable Heritage Sites
Try to be picky about your site. A glossy brochure itself does not connote heritage so select a site with a documented past. For example, why does it take an act of Congress to get a National Heritage Area? Answer-that is how these historically significant areas are designated and preserved for future generations.
Since there are currently only 49 National Heritage Areas (NHA), it's understandable why they are not household names. Not to be confused with national parks, each NHA played an important role in the history of the U.S. According to the criteria to become a NHA, "the landscape must have nationally distinctive natural, cultural, historic, and scenic resources that, when linked together, tell a unique story about our country." Created through Congressional designation, NHAs are locally-managed and focus on heritage-centered interpretation and conservation that are grounded in a community's pride. NHAs by definition offer residents and visitors a gateway for immersion into history and the local landscape. That's why hotels in or near NHAs should pay tribute to the local area and incorporate heritage into the guest experience.
While the movie remake "3:10 to Yuma" was a recent commercial success, most people probably can not find Yuma on a map. That is surprising because Yuma has helped shape U.S. history for hundreds of years. Long the traditional homeland of the Quechan Indian Tribe, the Yuma Crossing National Heritage Area is along the Colorado River on the California and Arizona border. Because of geology, geographically Yuma served as the key crossing point on the lower Colorado River in the 19th century and opened the southern route for expansion of the western U.S. Today, the Yuma Crossing National Heritage Area's mission is to "conserve, enhance, and interpret the natural and cultural resources of the community through collaboration and partnerships."