Designing to Meet an Owner's Needs and a Guest's Expectations

What to Spend Your Money On

By Pat Miller Managing Principal and Hospitality Practice Leader, LEO A DALY | November 12, 2017

In hospitality, the best hotels are the ones that envelop guests in the fantasy that no expense was spared in providing an authentic, luxurious, and unique guest experience.

Of course, we all know that to be a fantasy. Even the most high-end hotel has a finite budget. Every cost associated with its design and operation has been engineered. Every thread was counted, every view framed, and every piece of designer furniture strategically placed to increase revenue. The true value of a hospitality designer is his or her ability to spend money wisely. There is a science to producing the largest look per dollar spent. It’s something I’ve been studying for thirty years.

Some of the truths I’ve learned over my decades in hospitality design relate to how guests perceive value ( which is different than how you and I might ). In the following paragraphs, I’ll take you through some real-world examples of how a designer makes subtle shifts in priority to meet the owner’s needs and guest expectations. The lessons contained therein can be instructive on creating unique and memorable guest experiences at every level of service and budget.

How Guests do Not Perceive Value

I’ll start with a quick story. Once, traveling abroad, I stayed in a five-star hotel whose main design feature was a gigantic gold-leaf dome in the atrium. All of the guest rooms looked inward toward this atrium, making it the focal point of the experience. High above the guests, this golden waste of money hung, filling the lobby with strange echoes, and impressing no one. The problem was, it was too high up for the guest to truly experience in detail. Designers often suffer from an urge to make fancy, expensive design statements that may serve the designer’s ego or reputation, but fall flat with the most important audience: the guest.

How Guests Really Perceive Value

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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.