Smart Design is Universal Design

By Alan Roberts Global Head of Embassy Suites by Hilton, Hilton Worldwide | November 12, 2017

To meet the needs of the guest of today and the desire for a unique experience, not just a place to lay one’s head at the end of a long day, a hotel’s design now needs to provide both a ‘You Are Here’ and a ‘You Can Feel at Home Here’ guest experience. This has become true for almost every category of hotel, regardless of the scope of the property. At the same time, for upscale All Suites brands like Embassy Suites by Hilton that require more lead time to build, taking a thoughtful forward-thinking approach to design is essential. Careful attention must be paid to delivering a prototype that not only adapts to various locales, but also allows for ongoing adjustments to ensure hoteliers stay on the forefront of trends, as well as travelers’ ever-changing styles and demands.

The Beauty of Flexibility

Design has always been about change. It is a direct reflection of the evolving world around us interpreted into spaces that make our lives easier and elevate our overall lifestyle.

Understanding this, adaptation was central to the creation of the new prototypes for Embassy Suites and our sister All Suites brand Homewood Suites by Hilton. Several years were spent perfecting each design, which included both customer research and ongoing collaboration with owners to create prototypes that made it easier than ever to build an All Suites property that meets customers’ changing needs no matter the location.

The new Homewood Suites prototype, for example, allows for up to 85 percent studio suites in the room categories for a property – an option that wasn’t offered previously. Similarly, through the “kit of part” approach offered by Embassy Suites’ Design Option III, which allows for a mix of up to 20 percent studio suites, owners’ room configurations can be tailored to maximize occupancy based on a particular market’s demands. Moreover, both designs provide flexible, yet intimate, public spaces that can easily be infused with local touches and adapted to the changing desires of a wide variety of travelers.

Flexibility was also built into the design of Home2 Suites by Hilton. The youngest All Suites brand in the Hilton portfolio utilizes modular furniture allowing guests to personalize their suites. This customization also extends to Home2’s public spaces, especially its Inspired table F&B program which offers more than 400 unique breakfast combinations, and outdoor patios where guests can relax and enjoy the local scenery.

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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.