When guests walk into a hotel, the very first thing they notice is not the amenities—it’s the design, the look and feel of the property.
This vibe and how it makes them feel kicks off their guest experience during a hotel stay.
Most guests notice a hotel’s style—industrial, minimalist, bohemian, country. They see wall colors, furniture, lighting fixtures and tile patterns on the floor. Maybe there’s a spectacular staircase or mural in the lobby that catches their eye. Whatever they see or sense will trigger an experience.
Good design is aesthetically pleasing. Great design engages the senses, lures people in and creates a visual narrative that guests will remember long after they leave. Designers talent lies in their ability to create guest experiences that are genuine, unique, and memorable.
Today’s experience-driven guests are not easy to please. They have high expectations. They like to be surprised. They value authenticity. They are turned off by cookie-cutter rooms, slow Internet connections and uncomfortable furniture. They research and trust online ratings and reviews. They respect sustainability.
These high expectations, as well as new and unexpected ones, will continue to push hospitality forward in 2018.
New Players Change the Rules
Alternative accommodation providers like Airbnb and Couchsurfing are disrupting the hotel industry by feeding millennials’ appetite for rare, authentic and meaningful experiences—in contrast to the consistency and familiarity hotels have provided for decades.
GUEST EXPERIENCE-DRIVEN INNOVATION AND EXPERIENTIAL DESIGN WILL BE THE NAME OF THE GAME IN 2018.
The industry has taken notice and has begun to redesign existing properties and establish sub-brands to cater to this new breed of traveler. Instead of cookie-cutter, they are offering unique decor. Instead of escape, they are facilitating access to the local culture. Instead of just rooms, they are offering open, social spaces where guests can socialize and work.
The Cosmopolitan lobby digital art installation. Source: The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas
First Impressions Matter
Human beings make decisions based on first impressions in a matter of seconds, and it can be very difficult to change their minds after that. It is true what they say: You only get one chance to make a good first impression.
MAKING A GOOD FIRST IMPRESSION IS CRUCIAL IN ANY EFFORT TO ENHANCE HOTEL GUEST EXPERIENCE.
As soon as they see a hotel and enter its lobby, guests formulate opinions and begin to decide whether or not they are going to enjoy their stay. A tacky or shabby lobby leads them to expect tacky and shabby rooms.
Design Strategies for Better a Guest Experience
Co-working spaces enhance guest experience by providing spaces for social interaction, business networking and entertainment.
Business travelers increasingly are leaving their rooms to work and spend downtime in hotel lobbies, which have been transformed from check-in areas into vibrant communal gathering spaces where guests can work, eat, drink and meet people.
Co-working spaces typically feature an open layout, office-level technology with workstation areas and plenty of power outlets and USB ports, high-speed Wi-Fi, comfortable furniture, visual appeal, adequate lighting and environmental accents, among other design elements.
Biophilia refers to human’s innate tendency to seek out natural elements. Biophilic design goes beyond adding a few plants to a hotel lobby. It incorporates elements of the natural world into built spaces, such as natural lighting, materials and views. Biophilic design is especially useful to hotels in urban locations.
Biophilic hotels frequently feature natural landscapes, green walls, reclaimed and repurposed materials, indoor-outdoor spaces, and colors, shapes and patterns that mimic nature. They appeal to guests who are environmentally aware and millennials, who prefer—and are willing to pay more—to do business with companies that share their values. As a result, green or eco-friendly hotels are more successful attracting millennial travelers.
By tapping into nature, biophilic design promotes health and wellness and enhances the overall guest experience, which leads to positive reviews, customer loyalty and a stronger brand.
Showcase All Things Local
People often travel to escape their daily lives and take a break from reality, and some of them never leave the hotel where they stay. But these days more travelers are interested in the daily lives and realities of others, choosing instead to explore the towns where they stay and connect with the local culture.
Demand for local experiences is up thanks to shifting priorities in the millennial generation and the success of home-sharing services. Consequently, more hotels are emphasizing local elements in their design and services. For example, in addition to displaying locally handcrafted art and furniture, the lobby can serve as a gateway to the local community by providing a space for neighborhood events.
Guests can tell when a space is different. Some notice the details; others see meaningful patterns. If nothing else, they know when they feel good or bad in a space. Local design elements give guests what they crave—unique, authentic, memorable experiences. When in doubt, choose local.
A Tech-Personalized Experience
Comfy co-working spaces, impressive green walls and breathtaking landscapes won’t mean a thing if your guests, especially business travelers, can’t access high-speed Internet during their stay. Cumbersome tech issues can turn a satisfied guest into a very unhappy one in a flash.
Nowadays, free Wi-Fi in a hotel is as basic as a pillow. To enhance guest experience you have to go further and incorporate technology during the design stage. Consider technology that allows guests to customize or personalize their experience.
Smart technology enables guests to control lighting, temperature and audiovisual systems in their rooms using their smartphones. Mobile apps can streamline the check-in process and allow the lobby to function as a co-working space rather than a place for people to stand in line. These are positive experiences guest will appreciate and remember.
This year and thereafter, more hotels will go smart and technology will get smarter. In the future, guest management software could make it possible for guests to customize their stay while at home booking a room. For example, they could choose type of bedding, bathroom items and food for the fridge before they arrive. And that could be as basic as a pillow.
To learn how technology is transforming the hospitality industry and how to use it to boost the guest experience to a new level, download this helpful guide: