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The report examines the Icehotel in Jukkasjärvi, Sweden from the perspective of examining its infrastructure and services in the context of appeal to customers and sustainability in the future. The report finds that the unique selling point of the hotel is the environment in which it exists, its construction and design relies heavily of the ice-filled Torne river. It is precisely this that draws tourists to this location from all over the world. However, the hotel is also known for its numerous activities and innovations in hospitality and earns a name in being the foremost snow hotel in the world. However, the advent of eco-tourism has also raises ethical concerns over the sustainability of these nature-experience hotels and the experiences they offer, and the hotel needs to be more mindful of these concerns.
Located in Jukkasjärvi, Sweden, the Icehotel was established in the year 1989 by Yngve Bergqvist. The idea behind the design and appeal is that the entire hotel is built from ice, which is built each year around March, with the ice collected from the Torne river which is close to the hotel site (Hardingham-Gill, 2019).
The purpose of this report is to categorically look at the hotel’s performance over the years and comparatively assess it with the changing trends in consumer preferences in the hospitality industry.
Over the years, there has been a radical shift in the hospitality industry, due to environmental and technological changes. Butt and Bharwani (2012) discover that hospitality is not merely about accommodation and comfort. It is about building brands and not just about providing service. This is the result of tourism becoming an increasingly important part of the economy, all across the world, A 2019 report by the World Travel and Tourism Council revealed that tourism forms 10.3% of the GDP of the world, a 0.3% increased from 2015 (wttc.org; Goncharova et al, 2016).
Over the past decade, there have been several changes in consumer preferences. Trends over the year has suggested that people have begun to demand more authentic and personalised experiences from their hospitality experience (Harkey, 2017). Some of these discussed below.
Authenticity in experience is heavily dependent on culture and appearance, according to Peterson (2005). Pizam and Shani (2009) differentiate between hospitality and hospitable-ness; the former refers to the making of new experiences and the latter to the welcoming kindness of staying at a place. The Icehotel aims to provide the former kind of experience to its consumers. The hotel caters to what Poon (1993) has referred to as the ‘new’ kind of tourists, by offering rooms which are made of ice.
One of the major attractions of the hotel are the Art Suites, which are made when artists are commissions at the beginning of the construction of the hotel, beginning in November each year (icehotel.com; hangluggageonly.co.uk). The personalisation factor is an attractive component as each year, the hotel suites are remade and guests experience a unique and non-replicable experience in the suites and the hotel itself (travelandleisure.com).
The central unique selling point of the Icehotel in Sweden is that it is made completely out of ice. Frequently tagged as one of the most unique hotels in the world (momondo.com; visitsweden.com; tripadvisor.com). The idea of innovative design in the hotel involves the usage of industrial magnetite waste to construct slabs which are mixed with the ice, which forms 5,500 metres of rooms and hallways, chandeliers and furniture, all made with ice. The guests can choose to sleep in the ice rooms in sleeping bags, clothed in warm clothes, or they can choose to sleep in warm rooms (Robles and Wiberg, 2011; icehotel.com).
The following section will look at the unique services that are being offered in Icehotel in Sweden and how it can work favourably for the hotel’s business prospects.
Pizam and Shani (2009) differentiate between hospitality and hospitable-ness; the former refers to the making of new experiences and the latter to the welcoming kindness of staying at a place. The Icehotel aims to provide the former kind of experience to its consumers. The hotel caters to what Poon (1993) has referred to as the ‘new’ kind of tourists, by offering rooms which are made of ice.
The locational advantages of the hotel affords the guests to be able to enjoy the northern lights scenery. The hotel offers a northern lights safari package, where a guided tour is given to the tourists, a campfire is also included (icehotel.com). This is an important part of the Icehotel experience is the closeness to nature, and the hotel strives to be a part of the natural artic environment as much as possible (Stromberg, 2009). Other than that the hotel offers activities like ice sculpting, dinner in the wilderness, various snowmobile adventures which cover a day and also include northern light viewing, several dog sledding activities, ranging from a short drive to a whole day adventure (icehotel.com).
The hotel specialises itself in hosting events, both professional and personal. The hotel has meeting rooms which can accommodate upwards of a hundred guests and warm accommodation available for staying guests. Other than that, the hotel can also host weddings, with a uniquely made ceremony hall and the ceremony can also be held in the main hall of the hotel (icehotel.com).
The hotel is a pertinent driver of tourism in the region and studies have shown that ever since the inception of the hotel, there has been a significant increase in the number of tourists from 6616 tourists in 1994 to 17,996 in 2007 (Johnson, 2010). More specifically, the rise of tourism to the areas of Kiruna and Jukkasjärvi has been attributed to the existence of the hotel (Lundberg, 2011).
It is clear that the trend of staying at the icehotel has caught on, as in 2020, the hotel expanded to include over six new art suites (Rokou, 2020). Even though tourism has largely been terminated in the face of the pandemic, the hotel still receives guests as they have updated their COVID policies (icehotel.com).
Over the years, the trend of ecotourism has emerged as a pertinent form of tourism, lauded for its sustainable methods and cultural integration of tourists. In terms of infrastructure, the hotel has taken a step in the right direction by preserving the authenticity of the artic home, with its ice rooms, but also keeping warm room options for guests who would want it. however, apart from food and nature experiences, the hotel needs to provide more activities which represent the spirit of Scandinavian rural life (Mahmudova et al, 2020; icehotel.com).
The hotel is an excellent place for fashionistas as designer houses like Chanel have previously held fashion shows on ice runways at the hotel (icehotel.com).
In 2014, Icehotel was awarded the SIGNUMPRISET award, to encourage the long term building of its brand (icehotel.com). Additionally, the hotel was given the title of an eco hotel by the Nordic Swan Ecolable, the sustainability label awarding body of Scandinavian countries (icehotel.com).
In the travel website Tripadvisor, it is rated as 4.5/5, on Booking it is rated 8.5/10 and on Expedia, it is rated 4.4/5 (tripadvisor.com, booking.com, expedia.com).
Another important aspect of the hotel experience are the gastronomical delights. Al Rousan (2011) discovers that the overall satisfaction of the hotel is intimately connected to the Food and Beverages department of the hotel, whereby individuals are, almost always, more likely to rate a hotel higher if they feel that the food and beverage services which they get from the service are good. They Icehotel consists of an ice bar, where guests can drink alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. The bar is open to guests all day long and to visitors till evening. The hotel also boasts of a gourmet restaurant called Veranda, where individuals could pursue their gastronomical delights. The restaurants houses a Michelin star chef and sommeliers who recommend appropriate wines with each course (handluggageonly.co.uk).
It has been helped by innovations in the manufacturing sector, which is technological in focus (Gallouj, 2002).
The technological innovation behind making Icehotel each year is extensive. However, social growth and innovation has also led to the survival and also the thriving of the particular hotel. There is greater information about guest desires, whereby hotels can innovate and alter their services accordingly (Gyurácz-Németh, Raffay and Kovács, 2010). This is evident by Icehotel’s management engagement with tourists on tourist pages, whereby managers apologise or thank guests for their criticism or appreciation, respectively (tripadvisor.com; booking.com).
The hotel has several redeeming features and artistic niche appeal to several tourists, as was evident by the report. The hotels’ tourist market is increasing with the inclusion of the ‘new’ kind of tourists, aided by online travel agencies which have increased the visibility of the hotel greatly. Technological and design innovations have, thus, aided to not only the ease of construction of the hotel, but also aided the hotel in understanding customer preferences and patterns better. The report recommends that the hotel needs to take further consideration of expanding its operations and making more suites, as there is a constant demands for space and the hotel is not operative for several months of a year, driving up the demands.
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