The future of hotel designing
Wednesday, February 20, 2019
No one knows what trends will shape hotel design a decade from now. One thing seems certain, though. Hotel interiors will interact with guests in new ways and offer environments that will cater not only to their desire for rest and relaxation but also to their overall health and well-being. They will do this by combining the latest technological innovations and biological science with centuries-old traditions of providing excellent service and guest care.
The hospitality industry is undergoing a transformation. Disruptors to the traditional business model, such as alternative booking platforms, like Airbnb, and online travel services, are, in the words of Nicolas Mayer, industry leader for hospitality and tourism at PwC Global, "chiseling away" at revenues and customers.
Notes Mayer, luxury hotels and resorts distinguished themselves by offering guests everything they could possibly want, at their command, under one sumptuously designed roof. That model no longer appeals to today’s more independent, experience-oriented guests. This well-traveled, discerning and tech-savvy clientele has little interest in many of the customary amenities hotels offer, and would prefer other conveniences that most currently do not.
Periods of transition provoke experimentation. Some of the world’s top hoteliers and hospitality design firms are exploring new approaches to designing hotels that seek to reinvent the guest experience.
In an interview with Hotel Business magazine, Elizabeth Lowrey, principal and director of interior architecture at Elkus Manfredi Architects, explains that the firm has adopted a "co-creation" methodology that gathers input from users of the space during the creative process "to find out how they use a space, what technology they want and how they want to feel."
Developers, hotel executives and business partners have a say in the design, of course, but so do guests and employees. "The payoff," says Lowrey, "is a design that really works for everyone who enters that hotel or retail store or restaurant or workplace."
One way designers are helping ensure the environment works for everyone is by integrating technologies that allow for more convenience and personalization. A recent article on the emergence of "smart hotels" in Building Construction + Design magazine cites examples of properties that allow guests advanced check-in and access to their room using their personal smart device.
Once inside the room, they can use their device, or an installed voice-activated device, to control the lighting, temperature, and audiovisual equipment, as well as access concierge and other services. In some cases, the room ambience may be preset for them based on their expressed preferences or time of arrival.
Addressing guests’ concern for their health and wellness, designers also are taking a more holistic approach, creating spaces that appeal aesthetically and systemically to all five senses, not just the visual. Adopting practices such as biophilia, they are using more natural materials, providing more direct access to plants and nature views, and creating a refuge from the surrounding urban environment. Some have begun incorporating circadian lighting in guest rooms to help overcome the effects of jet lag.
It remains to be seen how guests will respond to some of these innovations. Recognizing that guest preferences and technology will continue to change rapidly, Lowrey says her firm now designs with an eye toward how the space it builds today may evolve in the future. Devices and supporting technology can be more easily swapped out if needed or the space adapted to accommodate some new, unforeseen technology.
As for those disruptors, they are unlikely to have a substantial impact on higher-end properties. Whether delivered by staff or devices, guests will always value personalized service, comfort and convenience, along with security and a memorable experience. Designing hotels to be future-friendly as well as occupant-friendly will help to deliver on that promise and thus extend their lifespan and profitability.
- Interior Design, Furnishings & Fixtures
- Construction & Building Materials
- Facilities & Grounds
- Recreation & Leisure
- Travel, Hospitality & Event Management
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