The Five Most Important Areas of Your Hotel: Paying Attention to Focal Points Will Pay Big Dividends

By Amy Locke Director, Interior Design, Hatchett Hospitality | November 21, 2010

Every hotel renovation or new build involves plenty of "to do" lists. Here's one that's short and should help the finished project succeed – spectacularly.

Lobby

Research shows that it takes as little as three seconds for us to form our impression of a new person or place. This first impression is nearly impossible to change and it sets the tone for the remainder of the relationship.

That's why your lobby is important – because it's where guests start their visit and where they learn what to expect in every space of your hotel. It's also where guests end their visit, so the lobby may determine IF the guest intends to return at all.

The lobby is among an owners' – and a designer's – toughest challenges because it must present a look that carefully blends brand standards, geographic location, and client mix, without forgetting the budget. So how can your lobby create a "WOW" factor with visitors? Consider these ideas:

  • Use architectural elements to interest the eye and create a dramatic look. Examples include arches that are trimmed with thick wood molding, columns covered in marble or exotic woods, and dome or barrel ceilings featuring a mural.
  • Use design features to convey a comfortable feeling that welcomes and soothes. For example, create the appeal of an outdoor atrium by strategically combining a skylight with lots of greenery and open space. Or have a cozy courtyard by using greenery to surround a fountain or other water element. Other options are a floor-to-ceiling stacked stone wall, a dramatic over-sized fireplace, or a large waterfall.
  • Use upscale trim materials such as woodwork, stone, and granite to create eye-popping appeal on wall panels, front desk, and buffet/beverage bar. Be creative with both the materials you use and where you use them. And for the budget-conscious, there are many great looking "faux" options.
  • Use space and furniture to design a living room-like lobby which has some open space, but also plenty of alcoves for privacy. Today's lobby serves as part business center, part meeting place, and part meal area. This type of multi-purpose lobby appeals to travelers who want to work with colleagues or socialize with friends without going to a guest room.
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Guest Service: A Culture of YES

In a recent global consumers report, 97% of the participants said that customer service is a major factor in their loyalty to a brand, and 76% said they view customer service as the true test of how much a company values them. And since there is no industry more reliant on customer satisfaction than the hotel industry, managers must be unrelenting in their determination to hire, train and empower the very best people, and to create a culture of exceptional customer service within their organization. Of course, this begins with hiring the right people. There are people who are naturally service-oriented; people who are warm, empathetic, enthusiastic, pleasant, thoughtful and optimistic; people who take pride in their ability to solve problems for the hotel guests they are serving. Then, those same employees must be empowered to solve problems using their own judgment, without having to track down a manager to do it. This is how seamless problem solving and conflict resolution are achieved in guest service. This willingness to empower employees is part of creating a Culture of Yes within an organization.  The goal is to create an environment in which everyone is striving to say “Yes”, rather than figuring out ways to say, “No”. It is essential that this attitude be instilled in all frontline, customer-facing, employees. Finally, in order to ensure that the hotel can generate a consistent level of performance across a wide variety of situations, management must also put in place well-defined systems and standards, and then educate their employees about them. Every employee must be aware of and responsible for every standard that applies in their department. The April issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some leading hotels are doing to cultivate and manage guest satisfaction in their operations.