As an industry devised to enhance customer experiences, hospitality has evolved and adapted continuously to satisfy the needs and wants of its users. The past few years have shown a collective shift in the mindsets of these customers, in terms of their requirements and expectations. High levels of competition have driven the hospitality industry to become more and more customer-centric by trying to provide personalized guest experiences along with unique and trendy designs.
1. Infusion of local culture
Hotels these days have started to incorporate the ‘live like a local’ ideology to get more globe-trotting customers. Their designs tend to narrate the neighborhood’s story by utilizing contextual history, music, materiality, and even the works of local artists and retailers. The ‘Generator Amsterdam’, part of a youth-hostel chain based in Europe, is a blend of a modern eclectic and traditional space. Set inside a century-old structure, its interiors use locally inspired art, music, and food while keeping the original elements of the heritage building intact.
Holland’s folk culture is portrayed through various artworks in the lobby and Amsterdam’s architectural heritage is represented by vibrantly colored and abstracted birch frames depicting the canal’s row housing. Bright floor tiles in a herringbone pattern are reminiscent of an aerial view of the iconic tulip fields. Another example of a hotel infusing local culture in a modern context is the ‘Le Pigalle’, set in the uber-trendy streets of Paris. The ambiance reflects the bohemian culture perfectly through quirky artwork and cartoon strips supplied by local artists. Its music station, newspaper kiosk, and other such collaborative spaces are managed by locals to generate social interaction between them and the customers.
2. The reinvention of Lobbies
Hotel lobbies are now becoming social and cultural hubs for various business travelers. As the representation of a hotel’s first impression, lobbies have started to work as welcoming, multi-functional spaces that provide both casual and formal zones. These spaces are now used for social interaction, work meetings, gatherings, and evening unwinding. The concierge desk is now getting replaced by living room sofas and the vending machine is getting replaced by self-serving bars. The Sheraton Group of Hotels is now redesigning 450 of its lobbies to incorporate these features and make their hotels more ‘business-friendly’. This refurbishment includes a new ‘productivity table’, fabricated with wireless charging, USB ports, and rentable drawers. Many lobbies are now trying to bring the outside inside, both physically and socially by opening up to their respective cities. The Saint George hotel’s lobby in Marfa is home to the famous Marfa Book Company and emits the look and feel of an art gallery. This space is used for hosting socio-cultural events and exhibits a uniquely curated retail area selling artwork and coffee table books.
3. Use of Technology
Due to globalization, the hospitality industry is facing a boom in the number of business travelers these days. In today’s tech-savvy world, incorporating cutting-edge and seamless technology is a popular means of achieving personalized experiences for such travelers because it allows high functionality, high flexibility, and innovation. The Eccleston Square Pimlico in London in one such example where technology is used as a feature to invite its customers. Built inside a 19th-century heritage building, the hotel beautifully depicts contrast by showcasing remote-controlled music and lighting, using I-pads and tablets and smartphones to manage various services, and having button-controlled shower walls with televisions embedded in the bathroom mirrors. Smart technology also offers cost reductions and revenue opportunities, and helps hotel owners attain profitability easily.
The rising popularity of eco-friendly and sustainable practices has made the new age of travelers more aware and woke, and they have started choosing their hotels based on their eco-credentials. These hotels provide information about eco-friendliness and sustainability to their customers and make them feel that they are doing their bit to save the environment. In an attempt to create ‘sustainable luxury’, the ‘1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge Park’, designed by Marvel Architects and INC Architecture and Design, incorporates reclaimed materials and items in its interior design. Situated on the site of an old cargo wharf in Brooklyn, the hotel tries to bring the neighboring park into its structure. The reception lobby features a wall that showcases granite from the quarry that supplied stone for the construction of Brooklyn Bridge. Tables are made from the wood of trees that fell during the disastrous Hurricane Sandy. By using various remnants of the historic wharf, the contextually aware hotel evokes a sense of physical, social, and cultural authenticity in its guests.
Trends are inspired by the continuously changing preferences and demands of young and modern customers. Travelers these days want their hotels to be engaging with strong narratives and immersive ethos. Hotels these days are not just a part of the guest’s journey but are a destination in themselves.