How Next-Gen Hotel Lobbies Redefine the Guest Experience

By David C. Marr Senior Vice President & Global Head, Hilton Full Service Brands | November 26, 2017

Hospitality begins the moment a guest walks through the doors of a hotel. As a guest often forms his or her first impression of a hotel from the lobby, the importance of this space cannot be overstated.

In recent years, there have been industry-wide shifts in lobby design informed by the evolving preferences and needs of travelers. It is no longer sufficient to design a comfortable place to pass time before checking in to a guest room. Instead, hotels now need to create an experience within the lobby that not only provides functionality, but also establishes a sense of place for guests and visitors alike.

While there is no one-size-fits-all template for hotel lobby design, there are common themes shaping how hospitality companies approach re-imagining the space today:

  • Being Socially Alone - Dynamic and Collaborative Spaces
  • Straight to the Room - Evolution of the Guest Check-in Experience
  • Choice & Control - Dining on the Go
  • Guiding the Way - Subtlety of Design Elements

Being Socially Alone - Dynamic and Collaborative Spaces

One of the largest hotel design trends in recent years has been the redefining of individual spaces within the lobby. Lobby design is breaking away from the notion where pockets of space have to be separated by walls and defined by specific functions. These distinct spaces are starting to dissolve and the way we design lobbies today is more open, dynamic and adaptable to guest needs, customer volume and flow throughout the space.

For example, if you look at Hilton Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, which is directly connected to Europe’s third busiest airport, you’ll see that the lobby was designed specifically to reflect and cater to the large influx of travelers from around the globe who move through the hotel on a daily basis. Housed in a 43-meter tall atrium with an expansive glass roof, the lobby’s layout is open by design and features “islands” of space that support a variety of functions, from reception areas to places to work, to relax or do a little of both. The hotel lobby offers spaces perfect for those awaiting friends or taxis, as well as areas for guests with longer stays to relax, where they can enjoy hand crafted cocktails and watch television, or work comfortably in a quiet area versus alone in their room.

Hilton Amsterdam Airport Schiphol
The lobby inside the Hilton Amsterdam Airport Schiphol
The Digital Key feature on the Hilton Honors app
Hilton pod-style check-in areas
Hilton's pantry-style, grab-and-go dining options
Herb N’ Kitchen concept
Hilton Carlsbad Oceanfront Resort & Spa delights guests with a spectacular artistic lobby
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Human Resources: Value Creation

Businesses must evolve to stay competitive and this is also true of employment positions within those organizations. In the hotel industry, for example, the role that HR professionals perform continues to broaden and expand. Today, they are generally responsible for five key areas - government compliance; payroll and benefits; employee acquisition and retention; training and development; and organizational structure and culture. In this enlarged capacity, HR professionals are no longer seen as part of an administrative cost center, but rather as a member of the leadership team that creates strategic value within their organization. HR professionals help to define company policies and plans; enact and enforce systems of accountability; and utilize definable metrics to measure and justify outcomes. Of course, there are always new issues for HR professionals to address. Though seemingly safe for the moment, will the Affordable Care Act ultimately be repealed and replaced and, if so, what will the ramifications be? There are issues pertaining to Millennials in the workforce and women in leadership roles, as well as determining the appropriate use of social media within the organization. There are new onboarding processes and e-learning training platforms to evaluate, in addition to keeping abreast of political issues like the minimum wage hike movement, or the re-evaluation of overtime rules. Finally, there are genuine immigration and deportation issues that affect HR professionals, especially if they are located in Dreamer Cities, or employ a workforce that could be adversely impacted by federal government policies. The March Hotel Business Review will take a look at some of the issues, strategies and techniques that HR professionals are employing to create and sustain value in their organization.