Coloring Outside the Lines

By Pat Miller Managing Principal and Hospitality Practice Leader, LEO A DALY | November 20, 2016

Hospitality guests today want a more authentic experience connected to nature and local culture. Designers are responding with new schemes for public spaces that perforate the border between indoor and outdoor, opening up lobbies, lobby bars and restaurants to bring guests into the environment around the hotel. Whether creating unobstructed views of the mountain landscapes or physically opening the space to the neighboring waterfront, indoor/outdoor spaces create a whole new experience for guests and pays dividends for owners.

Targeting the Guest

Hotel brands today are about much more than branding. Rather than predictability, today’s consumer wants a differentiator – something unique and unforgettable. Creating a connection to locale is key to the modern hospitality experience, requiring designers to take time in identifying what makes a place unique, and then create spaces that amplify that character and connect guests to it.

The methods designers use to create this connection depends on the business goals of the owner, the standards of the brand, the type of guest being targeted, and the unique assets of a particular place.

Different types of guests have different expectations. Business travelers want to relax and unwind after a long day of travel and meetings. This has driven a trend toward expanded bar spaces that include outdoor seating for a change of scenery. Convention-goers want places to meet up for casual sit-downs, leading to collision spaces becoming a main feature of lobby design. Families want places to play and socialize, which means providing outdoor multi-function spaces that serve as an extension of their living spaces. Vacationers want unique local experiences full of relaxation, play, and fun, leading to the popularity of rooftop spas, pool bars, and other amenities that allow guests to soak in the local atmosphere and climate. Local residents want a vibrant cultural center for a night out in-town, which has led to more hotels connecting to existing mixed-use amenities or creating new ones!

Discovering Authentic Opportunities

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Coming up in January 2018...

Mobile Technology: Relentless Innovation

Technology has become a crucial component in attracting and retaining hotel guests, and the need to enhance a guest’s technology experience is driving a relentless pace of innovation. To meet and exceed guest expectations, 54% of hotels will spend more on technology in 2018, and mobile solutions in particular will top the list of capital investments. Many hotels are integrating mobile booking, mobile keys, mobile payments and mobile check-in into their operations. Other hotels are emphasizing the in-room experience, boosting bandwidth and upgrading flat screen TVs to more easily interface with guest mobile devices. And though not yet mainstream, there are many exciting technology developments on the near horizon. The Internet of Things (loT) is taking form in some places, and can be found in guest room control systems, voice activation systems, and in wearable sensors that can be used for access and payment options. Virtual reality headsets are available at some hotels so guests can enjoy virtual trips to exotic locations or if off-property, preview conference facilities and guest rooms. How long will it be before a hotel employs a fleet of robots for room service, or utilizes a hologram as a concierge, or installs gesture-controlled walls that feature interactive digital displays? Some hotels are already using augmented reality for translation services, or interactive wall maps, or even virtual décor. This pace of innovation is challenging property owners and brands to stay on top of the latest technology trends while still addressing current projects. The January Hotel Business Review will explore what some hotels are doing to maximize their opportunities in the mobile technology space.