New F&B Design Trends for Hotels in 2018

By Ray Chung Director of Design, The Johnson Studio at Cooper Carry | February 04, 2018

With ever higher guest expectations and a healthy competition developing among hoteliers, hotel restaurants and bars need to stay ahead of trend. How a restaurant or bar looks is equally as important as the quality of the food and service.

It comes as no surprise that we are seeing more of our restaurateur friends inside hotels. In the coming year, expect to see more investment in hotel F&B overall, from the quality of the food to the design of the spaces and the creative repurposing of lobbies and rooftops.

An Investment in Design, by Design

Exciting, unique venues can feature prominently in marketing material and persuade travelers to choose one hotel over a long list that might otherwise all look the same. And as hotels tap into the value of bringing locals (non-guests) into their F&B venues, having the right look is critical. In the era of social media and photo sharing, it is hard to ignore the power of visual appeal.

Hotels are seeing the benefit of investing in highly customized design, especially in public areas like the lobby and F&B venues, where they can concentrate their efforts and still be able to reach all guests and non-guests alike. One aspect of customization has to do with making properties site-specific in some way. Increasingly, both branded and independent hotels look for ways to incorporate traditions that are specific to the city or even the neighborhood. Creating ties to the local community and its history into the design creates a sense of authenticity and fulfills the guest’s desire to be somewhere, not just anywhere. And from the point of view of the locals, when this kind of integration is done well, it helps the hotel become a rooted part of the community.

In bars and restaurants, in particular, where people spend considerably more time, more attention is being paid to the details of the design. We are seeing a return to an expression of craft and richness, but not in the traditional ways. Instead of large slabs of marble, there will be carefully proportioned accents. Rather than ornately carved mouldings, precisely detailed joinery. It is a reaction to the bare wood, blackened steel aesthetic that we see everywhere these days from restaurants to workplaces. Going forward, expect to see more comfortable furniture upholstered in gem-toned velvets, exuberant wall coverings and possibly lacquered walls and surfaces.

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Sales & Marketing: Opinions Matter

Hotel Sales and Marketing Directors manage a complex mix of strategies to attract and convert customers into guests. Part of their expertise includes an awareness of customer behavior during the reservation process, so they can make sure their hotel is favorably positioned. One such trend is the growing popularity of travel review sites. According to one recent survey, 61% of prospective customers consult online reviews in order to validate information about the hotel before making a purchasing decision. Another survey found that the average hotel customer reads between 6-12 reviews across 4-10 properties before making a final decision on where to stay. Similarly, other studies have shown that consumer reviews are a more trusted source of information for prospective customers than other kinds of marketing messaging. In fact, reviews are often considered to be as influential as price regarding whether a customer decides to complete a purchase or not. Plus, travel sites with the most reviews - including recent reviews from satisfied customers and thoughtful responses from staff - were also found to be the most appealing. So having positive reviews on a travel website is essential and can help to increase a hotel's conversion rates dramatically. Of course, there are all kinds of additional marketing strategies for sales and marketing directors to consider - the importance of video and the emergence of live streaming; the implementation of voice search; the proliferation of travel bots; and the development of Instagram as an e-commerce platform. 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.