Five FF&E Trends That Your Hotel Must Know About

By Ray Chung Director of Design, The Johnson Studio at Cooper Carry | July 01, 2018

As guests become only more design savvy, hotel owners and operators need to stay on top of trends in order to stay competitive. Here are five furniture and lighting (FF&E) trends to know.

Whether you are designing a hotel from scratch or planning to give your property a light design refresh, it is useful to understand what the latest trends are. Knowing where public taste is now and how it is changing, especially as the guests become more design-aware, helps keep your hotel competitive and attractive. While the goal might not be to be "trendy" per se, keeping an eye on what guests are seeing and talking about can give your property the edge it needs to set itself apart in a crowded market.

Certain trends are perennial, reappearing every few years, while others are unique to the moment. Regardless of the staying power, from a hotelier's point of view, it is important to be able to see how these trends fit into the brand and market. What might be appropriate for a urban select service hotel might not work for a four-star resort. Moreover, some properties deliver on well-established guest expectations-things people have seen and liked before-while others deliver on exactly the opposite-surprise and unconventionality. A good interior designer will be able to achieve both in the proportion you need, through nuanced selection and careful editing. With an understanding of balance and color and an eye to the future, a designer will be able to integrate trends, build on your hotel's brand and create a unique experience for your guests.

FF&E (Furniture, Fixtures and Equipment, or loose furnishings and decorative lighting) is only one of many layers that go into the design of a space, but it is one worth paying attention to. Here are five current trends in FF&E:

1. Decorative Lighting with Character

Decorative lighting, as opposed to ambient lighting or house lighting, is the term used for fixtures whose look is as or more important than the light they produce, namely sconces, pendants and chandeliers. As the brightest and often the most eye-catching design element in the room, decorative lighting is taking center stage in many projects. Traditional, ornate chandeliers have been all but replaced with wildly inventive fabrications that take advantage of new LED technology, featuring designs that were previously impossible.  And among these new decorative lights, there is a trend to move away from catalog items and customize them to each project, tying them tightly to the theme and sometimes the brand.

The Bar at Oak Steakhouse, Nashville
Custom acorn pendant lights at Oak Steakhouse, Nashville
Custom leather chairs at Oak Steakhouse, Nashville
Oak Steakhouse, Nashville
The Live Oak Bar, Fearing's Restaurant at The Ritz-Carlton, Dallas
Chandelier at Del Frisco's Double Eagle, Dallas
Atlas Restaurant at The St. Regis, Atlanta
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Coming up in June 2019...

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.