The Five Best Practices in Hotel Foyer Design

By Michael Bedner Chairman & CEO, Hirsch Bedner Associates | October 28, 2008

If the lobby is the heart and the guestrooms the soul, the foyer serves as the connective tissue of a hotel or resort. A series of pathways and vistas that break the guests' visual experience in a way that doesn't give everything away all at once while, a foyer, at the same time, prepares and connects them to what comes next.

While it's a modification in thought and theory, we believe a foyer is a focal point in hotel design and impacts the entire hospitality experience. Far from their ancillary role and no longer simply a physical passageway, a foyer, at its best, becomes a transitional and emotional space between the public and private areas that sets the tone and guest expectations as they move from one experience or environment of the hotel to another.

From a design standpoint, foyers offer challenging and artistic opportunities to create dramatic and bold spaces that direct and call attention to what is happening behind or beyond them. Just by its presence, a foyer can begin the transformation of turning an urban hotel into a private, secluded property and help guests turn their back on the hustle and bustle of the city and move into a tranquil space. An entry foyer sets the theme for everything else that a designer is doing, and may herald a major atrium, a restaurant or a ballroom.

John Portman, one of the best hotel architects in the world made brilliant use of transitional spaces to add contrast and texture or scale. While smaller foyers, such as an elevator foyer or one separating the sleeping area from the bathroom might not have equal impact, they do heighten the overall ambiance of the hotel and make it easier for the hotel staff to provide the optimum hospitality experience.

The most challenging foyer designs are those where we're forced into an artificial solution by virtue of existing architectural restrictions or client preferences rather than following only the dictates of our creative process. Either way, our design philosophy applies. When we work on a new project we approach the design as if it's the first time we've worked on a hotel. We utilize a timeless, well-planned design approach geared to stimulate the guest's sense and emotions and evoke a vivid sense of place.

Here are five elements that must be taken into consideration when designing foyers for their maximize impact and efficiency.

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Sales & Marketing: Selling Experiences

There are innumerable strategies that Hotel Sales and Marketing Directors employ to find, engage and entice guests to their property, and those strategies are constantly evolving. A breakthrough technology, pioneering platform, or even a simple algorithm update can cause new trends to emerge and upend the best laid plans. Sales and marketing departments must remain agile so they can adapt to the ever changing digital landscape. As an example, the popularity of virtual reality is on the rise, as 360 interactive technologies become more mainstream. Chatbots and artificial intelligence are also poised to become the next big things, as they take guest personalization to a whole new level. But one sales and marketing trend that is currently resulting in major benefits for hotels is experiential marketing - the effort to deliver an experience to potential guests. Mainly this is accomplished through the creative use of video and images, and by utilizing what has become known as User Generated Content. By sharing actual personal content (videos and pictures) from satisfied guests who have experienced the delights of a property, prospective guests can more easily imagine themselves having the same experience. Similarly, Hotel Generated Content is equally important. Hotels are more than beds and effective video presentations can tell a compelling story - a story about what makes the hotel appealing and unique. A video walk-through of rooms is essential, as are video tours in different areas of a hotel. The goal is to highlight what makes the property exceptional, but also to show real people having real fun - an experience that prospective guests can have too. The June Hotel Business Review will report on some of these issues and strategies, and examine how some sales and marketing professionals are integrating them into their operations.