Hotel Design: Creating an Individual and Unique Experience

By Tammy S. Miller President, Alternate Resources | October 29, 2017

There is a generation of young people that have redefined travel for all of us. Actually, they have redefined many things for all of us! The advent of social media platforms and the influx of visually stimulating photos posted everywhere have enabled people to open their minds to new ideas. Where the unknown used to be scary, there is very little unknown these days because you can tap into new experiences from friends and strangers gaining comfort in your interests. You can follow innovators and be exposed to what others are seeing and what they are experiencing and put those ideas on your bucket list.

The millennials may have led the charge, but the Baby Boomers and even the healthy elders are getting on the band wagon. People won't settle for the mundane any more, not in technology, not in work environments and not in their travel experiences. Hotels large and small, independent and branded are being called to task to be original and if they don't respond they will fail.

Personally, I have raised three boys who are now in their 20's and two of them have studied abroad for a semester and the third is about to choose his abroad destination. They seek "once in a lifetime" experiences and can often accomplish them on a shoe string financially. At the end of their fingers sits a full blown computer, masked as a cellular device that they can instantaneously access real time data and fuel their ideas. They seek unique and authentic experiences in hotels, food, tourism and culture.

What might have been out of my comfort zone being born into the Baby Boomer generation has become what I seek because I watch how easy it is to do. My parents born 25+ years before me were being pulled along initially and now are looking at their own trips in a different light. The hospitality industry is being tasked with more creativity and innovation in designing hotel space with the local culture in mind and bringing forth new ideas for how to attract and retain a client base.

Vacation travel was once a luxury available only to the wealthy but now it is much more affordable because Hoteliers are targeting all levels of "stars and diamonds" and striving for authentic and meaningful. The goal is to create fulfillment and offer an interactive approach to planning what a visitor wants from their experience. Social media makes these experiences visually available for many to share in the moment and gets recorded for others to call on when seeking a new experience. Photos posted on line by travel, hotel and food followers inundate the senses and expand the desire for new experiences truly defined however you want them to be.

The focus of hotel design regardless of the type of experiences your guests are seeking tasks professionals to offer ideas and solutions that are authentic, immersive and interactive. If the design doesn't mirror the experience the customer wants, regardless of age, they walk away disappointed. So how do designers achieve this? We do our homework and we challenge our inner creativity, training, knowledge and expertise to do our best work for each client.

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Eco-Friendly Practices: Corporate Social Responsibility

The hotel industry has undertaken a long-term effort to build more responsible and socially conscious businesses. What began with small efforts to reduce waste - such as paperless checkouts and refillable soap dispensers - has evolved into an international movement toward implementing sustainable development practices. In addition to establishing themselves as good corporate citizens, adopting eco-friendly practices is sound business for hotels. According to a recent report from Deloitte, 95% of business travelers believe the hotel industry should be undertaking “green” initiatives, and Millennials are twice as likely to support brands with strong management of environmental and social issues. Given these conclusions, hotels are continuing to innovate in the areas of environmental sustainability. For example, one leading hotel chain has designed special elevators that collect kinetic energy from the moving lift and in the process, they have reduced their energy consumption by 50%  over conventional elevators. Also, they installed an advanced air conditioning system which employs a magnetic mechanical system that makes them more energy efficient. Other hotels are installing Intelligent Building Systems which monitor and control temperatures in rooms, common areas and swimming pools, as well as ventilation and cold water systems. Some hotels are installing Electric Vehicle charging stations, planting rooftop gardens, implementing stringent recycling programs, and insisting on the use of biodegradable materials. Another trend is the creation of Green Teams within a hotel's operation that are tasked to implement earth-friendly practices and manage budgets for green projects. Some hotels have even gone so far as to curtail or eliminate room service, believing that keeping the kitchen open 24/7 isn't terribly sustainable. The May issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some hotels are doing to integrate sustainable practices into their operations and how they are benefiting from them.