Evolving Hospitality Design for the Post-Coronavirus World
By Tom Bergerson Principal, AO Architects | July 12, 2020
The entire hospitality industry exists to serve the intrinsic human desire to gather, celebrate and rejuvenate. This fact has driven hospitality designers and architects for the past several decades to place continual emphasis on the design and creation of evocative communal spaces, where people can congregate while at conferences or revitalize while on vacation. Even smaller transient hotels have adopted this trend and transformed indoor and outdoor public spaces to improve the guest experience for short-stay travelers.
Then, along came March 2020 with a rampant pandemic causing unprecedented social and economic turbulences. Overnight, the mindset of the masses has completely shifted – now, people no longer feel secure and comfortable in public spaces. It is an undeniable new reality in which no one can accurately forecast when people will feel safe to gather once again.
Those of us in the hospitality industry find ourselves faced with an enormous challenge: how do we continue to provide comfort, convenience, and social interaction while providing guests with a sense of safety and well-being? What can we do now, in the coming months, and beyond to deliver a guest experience that will encourage people to check-in again and again? How can we conscientiously and unconsciously make the guest experience safe and comfortable?
Immediate Steps to Increase Guests' Safety and Sense of Well-Being
There are a variety of relatively quick, easy to implement, cost-effective, and flexible solutions that hotel owners and operators can implement to provide guests with an immediate sense of safety and well-being.
First, intensify cleaning protocols with a hospital or laboratory level of training for the operational and cleaning staff. The new standards in sanitizing efforts should be communicated to guests regularly and often, with focus on high-touch areas. Easy to implement temporary signage will provide visual cues that let guests know that sanitation is a priority. Once the guestroom is thoroughly cleaned and sanitized, the door to the guestroom can be sealed with a sign posted for the guest arriving to appreciate the measures taken to protect them.