Amenity Design – Evolution or Obsolescence

By Eric Rahe Principal, BLT Architects | August 24, 2014

Guests are back even if rate is not. New construction in select markets has returned and significant renovations are occurring across all asset types. With each new cycle there is a need to refresh current amenities and at the same time incorporate changes to make amenities relevant and appealing to your guests. One challenge for operators and designers is how to understand how recent lifestyle and demand shifts are driving change.

According to Trip Advisor’s 2014 Trip Barometer report, 77 percent of guests say that amenities are important to them when booking a hotel. In contrast, in the same survey only a quarter of hoteliers surveyed believed that amenities offered have an impact on bookings. This potential misreading of demand showcases an additional challenge that hotel owners and operators face as they strive to design amenities that guests want while balancing the demands of their renovation budgets.

Hotel amenities vary widely depending on the type of property, the location, the target consumer and the return. Consequently, identifying trends across the industry can be difficult. For every owner who wants to convert guestrooms to meeting rooms, there is another who can make the business case for converting a conference room into a fitness and wellness space. Additionally, while some amenities are considered non-revenue producing but necessary to fill rooms, other hotels have crafted amenities that draw not only new guests but local residents to their property.

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MarriottNewark Lobby Lounge

Room refreshes featuring a custom boutique interior, mixed-use reception and social lobbies, smaller flexible meeting rooms, and in urban markets, signature restaurants featuring celebrity, at least local, chefs are all trends being incorporated into the current renovation cycle. Each of these amenities alone is a subject for discussion. But this article will focus on how changing attitudes toward work and wellness are affecting hotel amenity design and, in particular, how business centers, spas, pools and fitness centers are changing and, in the case of at least one amenity, may be evolving toward obsolescence.

Business Centers

Coming up in February 2018...

Social Media: Engagement is Key

There are currently 2.3 billion active users of social media networks and savvy hotel operators have incorporated social media into their marketing mix. There are a few Goliath channels on which one must have a presence (Facebook & Twitter) but there are also several newer upstart channels (Instagram, Snapchat &WeChat, for example) that merit consideration. With its 1.86 billion users, Facebook is a dominant platform where operators can drive brand awareness, facilitate bookings, offer incentives and collect sought-after reviews. Twitter's 284 million users generate 500 million tweets per day, and operators can use its platform for lead generation, building loyalty, and guest interaction. Instagram was originally a small photo-sharing site but it has blown up into a massive photo and video channel. The site can be used to post photos of the hotel property, as well as creating Instagram Stories - personal videos that disappear from the channel after 24 hours. In this regard, Instagram and Snapchat are now in direct competition. WeChat is a Chinese company whose aim is to be the App for Everything - instant messaging, social media, shopping and payment services - all in a single platform. In addition to these channels, blogging continues to be a popular method to establish leadership, enhance reputations, and engage with customers in a direct and personal way. The key to effective use of all social media is to find out where your customers are and then, to the fullest extent possible, engage with them on a personal level. This engagement is what creates a personal connection and sustains brand loyalty. The February Hotel Business Review will explore these issues and examine how some hotels are successfully integrating social media into their operations.