Design Alone Cannot Sustain a Brand

By Paula J. Azevedo Principal, dash design | April 10, 2016

Think of a hotel brand, and it’s a sure bet that far more than its logo will come to mind. From the initial booking of a room, to interactions with the valet, bellhop and reception desk staff, to the overnight room’s comfort plus amenities, and right through to the check-out process, hotel brands are banking on providing an enhanced guest experience, overall.

Certainly, the design of a hotel matters to its brand, but no matter how pleasing it may be, design alone cannot sustain a brand. It can, however, elevate the experience from start to finish – and that’s powerful.

Business? Pleasure? Both?

As designers, our job is to be forward thinkers and lead individual brands and personalities, as well as keep relevant and respond to the market’s needs. These days, that means addressing changing attitudes in business and leisure travelers, the heart of many hospitality brands’ focus. What was, in the past, a divided category of business and leisure travelers, today has become a hybrid class or what’s widely becoming known as the “bleisure customer.” Driven largely by society’s high use of mobile connectivity, along with a desire for social networking, discovery and intrigue, this customer isn’t looking to separate business travel from leisure like those before him did. Instead, he is weaving the two together, eliminating the divide and nuances between the types of travelers, entirely.

In catering to this guest, it’s important that a brand’s design aesthetic aligns and integrates with its operational needs, culture and services. To do so, all facets of the design need to be up-to-date, innovative and technologically advanced. The execution is important and it is the mission of designers to reimagine the possibilities and understand the unique selling points of each brand, since design can contribute to a hotel’s success or failure to resonate with guests.

Together, on Their Terms

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Coming up in July 2018...

Hotel Spa: Oasis Unplugged

The driving force in current hotel spa trends is the effort to manage unprecedented levels of stress experienced by their clients. Feeling increasingly overwhelmed by demanding careers and technology overload, people are craving places where they can go to momentarily escape the rigors of their daily lives. As a result, spas are positioning themselves as oases of unplugged human connection, where mindfulness and contemplation activities are becoming increasingly important. One leading hotel spa offers their clients the option to experience their treatments in total silence - no music, no talking, and no advice from the therapist - just pure unadulterated silence. Another leading hotel spa is working with a reputable medical clinic to develop a “digital detox” initiative, in which clients will be encouraged to unplug from their devices and engage in mindfulness activities to alleviate the stresses of excessive technology use. Similarly, other spas are counseling clients to resist allowing technology to monopolize their lives, and to engage in meditation and gratitude exercises in its place. The goal is to provide clients with a warm, inviting and tranquil sanctuary from the outside world, in addition to also providing genuine solutions for better sleep, proper nutrition, stress management and natural self-care. To accomplish this, some spas are incorporating a variety of new approaches - cryotherapy, Himalayan salt therapy and ayurveda treatments are becoming increasingly popular. Other spas are growing their own herbs and performing their treatments in lush outdoor gardens. Some spa therapists are being trained to assess a client's individual movement patterns to determine the most beneficial treatment specifically for them. The July issue of the Hotel Business Review will report on these trends and developments and examine how some hotel spas are integrating them into their operations.