Designing to Meet an Owner's Needs and a Guest's Expectations

What to Spend Your Money On

By Pat Miller Managing Principal and Hospitality Practice Leader, LEO A DALY | November 12, 2017

In hospitality, the best hotels are the ones that envelop guests in the fantasy that no expense was spared in providing an authentic, luxurious, and unique guest experience.

Of course, we all know that to be a fantasy. Even the most high-end hotel has a finite budget. Every cost associated with its design and operation has been engineered. Every thread was counted, every view framed, and every piece of designer furniture strategically placed to increase revenue. The true value of a hospitality designer is his or her ability to spend money wisely. There is a science to producing the largest look per dollar spent. Itís something Iíve been studying for thirty years.

Some of the truths Iíve learned over my decades in hospitality design relate to how guests perceive value (which is different than how you and I might). In the following paragraphs, Iíll take you through some real-world examples of how a designer makes subtle shifts in priority to meet the ownerís needs and guest expectations. The lessons contained therein can be instructive on creating unique and memorable guest experiences at every level of service and budget.

How Guests do Not Perceive Value

Iíll start with a quick story. Once, traveling abroad, I stayed in a five-star hotel whose main design feature was a gigantic gold-leaf dome in the atrium. All of the guest rooms looked inward toward this atrium, making it the focal point of the experience. High above the guests, this golden waste of money hung, filling the lobby with strange echoes, and impressing no one. The problem was, it was too high up for the guest to truly experience in detail. Designers often suffer from an urge to make fancy, expensive design statements that may serve the designerís ego or reputation, but fall flat with the most important audience: the guest.

How Guests Really Perceive Value

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Coming up in May 2018...

Eco-Friendly Practices: The Greening of Your Bottom Line

There are strong moral and ethical reasons why a hotel should incorporate eco-friendly practices into their business but it is also becoming abundantly clear that “going green” can dramatically improve a hotel's bottom line. When energy-saving measures are introduced - fluorescent bulbs, ceiling fans, linen cards, lights out cards, motion sensors for all public spaces, and energy management systems - energy bills are substantially reduced. When water-saving equipment is introduced - low-flow showerheads, low-flow toilets, waterless urinals, and serving water only on request in restaurants - water bills are also considerably reduced. Waste hauling is another major expense which can be lowered through recycling efforts and by avoiding wastefully-packaged products. Vendors can be asked to deliver products in minimal wrapping, and to deliver products one day, and pick up the packaging materials the next day - generating substantial savings. In addition, renewable sources of energy (solar, geothermal, wind, etc.) have substantially improved the economics of using alternative energies at the property level. There are other compelling reasons to initiate sustainability practices in their operation. Being green means guests and staff are healthier, which can lead to an increase in staff retention, as well as increased business from health conscious guests. Also, sooner or later, all properties will be sold, and green hotels will command a higher price due to its energy efficiencies. Finally, some hotels qualify for tax credits, subsidies and rebates from local, regional and federal governments for the eco-friendly investments they've made in their hotels. The May issue of the Hotel Business Review will document how some hotels are integrating sustainable practices into their operations and how their hotels are benefiting from them.