The New Hotel Lobby: Combining Technology & Culture
By Saeed Kazmi Chairman & CEO, Vertical Systems, Inc. | April 22, 2012
A French proverb says "The more things change, the more they stay the same."
That certainly is true of the hotel lobby, which in the 1800's was a place to see, to be seen, and to enjoy the pleasure of being in public. At the time, hotel rooms were small and plain while public areas – like the lobby, dining rooms, and bars – were spacious and beautifully decorated. Hoteliers worked hard to make those spaces comfortable, where guests could linger and be sociable.
This all changed dramatically in recent decades as hotel lobbies became sparse and sterile – they served as little more than "waiting areas" for people who wanted to go to their ultimate destination, whether that was their room, the airport, a restaurant, or a local appointment.
Today, the lobby has again become an important gathering spot and a destination in itself – and at many hotels, it is the most exciting, most glamorous space in the entire building. Now, just like a century and a half ago, hotel owners are spending enormous amounts of money on furniture, draperies, flooring, artwork, and other elements of decor that attract people to the lobby – and that are turning the area into a hub for social and business activities.
It's a trend that's been called "the Facebooking of the hospitality industry" and it's happening at all types of hotels, from lower-priced to higher-end to boutique.
Certainly it has savvy hotel owners asking two questions: (1) what's driving this trend? and (2) how do I respond properly? This column provides some of the answers.