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HI Connect® Designer Spotlight - Patti Tritschler

Today we speak with Patti Tritschler of Interior Image Group as part of our series focusing on the hospitality designers, architects and purchasing pros participating in HI Connect® Design 2014.

Friday, March 28, 2014
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We’re getting ready for our BIG event HI Connect® Design coming this April 2-4, 2014 at the Gaylord Opryland in Nashville, TN. Act Now and register to be a part of this amazing event.

We’ve got dozens of built out fully constructed out vignettes created by the vision of leading hospitality designers, architects and purchasing pros. And those in attendance will get to step into their master creations, get a tour and see products in the content in which they belong; in a real hotel environment!

HI Connect® Design offers attendees an incredible opportunity to view, first hand, original concepts designed by industry designers and purchasing companies in collaboration with suppliers shown in context within a real environment of a guest room, bathroom, and public spaces such as Bar/Lounge, Spa/Fitness to name a few. This is a truly the most collaborative effort ever at any hospitality event.

As part of our countdown to HI Connect® 2014 we’re interviewing the people that are bringing their creative vision to life. Read the story below, or for a more fully in-depth interview listen to their story below.

Act now to be a part of this game changing event. For more information relating to this unique and dramatic experience at HI Connect® Design, this April 2-4, 2014 visit HI Connect® Design to learn more and register for this unique event that sets the new standard in hospitality tradeshows.

For today’s interview, Editor-In-Chief Glenn Haussman speaks with Patti Tritschler of interior Image Group who is along with Senior Designer, KB Bhantin and Julie Waeckhter. Together they’re creating the hotel lobby during the three days of HI Connect® Design.

Glenn: I’m so excited that you all are on the show with me today. And man oh man, did you do a great job last year. And I think it was just so sad that it had to be taken apart but that concierge lounge really helped define, I think the look and feel of where concierge lounges are going. You know, Patti, what was the victory like for you?

Patti: Well, first of all, to be in that situation with so many of our peers, it was quite, I don’t know, kind of stunning when it actually happened that we won because at that point it was the last award to be announced and we kind of thought oh well, better luck next time. And to see that we won, I think we were elated. We were so grateful that we got the recognition that we did from the hoteliers and visitors to the show because that was really how the voting took place. So we were excited and we’re so excited that we get to do round two.

Glenn: Yeah and that is really terrific. And this year you’re going to be going out and creating a hotel lobby, which is really exciting to me. And, you know, that’s a really impactful space and I think really promotes you guys because that sets, defines what people should be thinking of when they come to this event. This event is going to be attracting a lot of big industry insiders. We’ve got owners and developers coming. We’ve got other designers within your peer group coming so you’ve really got the pressure on to amp it up as last year’s winner. So creating the hotel lobby, what are you thinking about these days?

Patti: Well, fortunately we’ve had during the last three years the focus for all the brands has really been on the lobby. So we really wanted to understand the lobby a little bit more as we’re going into the show for 2014, to see how can we add a dimension of the lobby that still focuses on the interactive, the zones, creating spaces for people to eat, dine, connect, unwind, but to really put a spin on something different in the lobby that will set the lobby apart this year. And of course, we can’t share our secrets at this time, but I believe with the vendors that we have on board for the 2014 show, we’re really going to hit that mark. So we’re really excited about that.

Glenn: Yeah, that’s exciting to me as well because I’ve been speaking to a lot of people over the last few years all about the hotel lobby. And I feel like everybody’s kind of been copying everybody else and doing kind of the same thing. So it’s going to be interesting and fun to see how you guys are going to be bringing that to the next level.

Now, in order to do that, you’ve gotta have a lot of research and good guts behind you to go ahead and make these changes and adaptation. So KB and Julie, you ladies have been out there researching this and really thinking about the programming of this space. So tell me a little bit about what you found in terms of what people are really desiring from the hotel lobby in 2014 and beyond.

KB: I think it’s all about the millennials now and we’re still used to working in Starbucks with technology in our hand. We all like to work with each other. We don’t want to be-, even if we want to be alone, we don’t want to be lonely.

Glenn: Yes, KB, I always call that being alone together, you know? I think that really sums it up. And you’re right. So what else are you thinking then?

KB: Now the lobbies aren’t just about checking in, checking out. It’s about turning the lobby into different areas, to interact, to eat, to gather around, to have meetings. And I think it’s about bringing all those functions together.

Glenn: So Julie, how do you pull all of those things together to create a seamless, cohesive space that really is able to get people to spend time there and spend more money?

Julie:Well, it’s really about making different zones for everyone. So you have your second zone, your welcome area, and then you also have the social and the personal. It’s about breaking in those three different kind of areas down into more concise ones. A lot of it is about the furniture. It’s hard to make a lobby not look like a furniture store but meet everyone else’s needs. So it’s about using modular kind of amenities for everyone, being able to change the space in different directions, depending on what kind of group is coming in or who’s coming in to meet. It’s making it available for everyone and everyone’s needs at the same time.

Glenn: Now that is something that I find must be a tough thing to do. You’re speaking about millennials. Now the millennial group, as we all know, is really coming on as and will soon be the number one spenders in hotels. But at the same time, you don’t want to alienate your original customer base, which still has a lot of baby boomers for example and folks like me, Gen-X’ers. So how do you go ahead and find that balance so you don’t say no thank you, baby boomers, just go away, while welcoming the millennials? Patti, maybe you’ve got some insight.

Patti: Well, since I am at the tail end of the baby boomer, I agree with you, Glenn. I think that’s probably the largest challenge that every design firm has when creating the lobby space is being able to address the Gen-X and the millennials. I believe what has to happen in that area, we all know about the zone.

Of course we know zones, but how adaptable is that furniture for that millennial versus that Baby Boomer. You know, having something that I feel more comfortable in when I’m sitting in and working versus a Millennial who can pull up to a high-top bench and do their charging in and feel very comfortable working, that’s not always comfortable for me. So creating furniture needs for those different millennials, different sectors of the groups that we’re addressing right now.

And then making sure that that overall design experience that happens from the time that guest checks in, that they can sense oh wow, I’m not being singled out, that there’s nothing in here for me to connect to so I’m going to go to my room. We want to make sure that that guest feels very comfortable when they navigate from the lounge to maybe where the community table is to the bar, that we’re really addressing all of those age groups without singling out the design to one particular one.

Glenn: So how do you go ahead and create a design that tells Baby Boomers yes, it’s okay we want you here, too and also signals to millennials hey, we like you. Because I’ve seen a lot of younger skewing designs that feel more Vegasy, loungy or cluby, or that sort of thing. And that would start to turn me off if I was not in that kind of a mood.

Patti: Well, hopefully you have a well-balanced design team. I look at my design team and I’m the Baby Boomer and here we have the Millennials. And working together in a design team where my input as a baby boomer versus a millennial versus a Gen-X’er, we look at that entire design concept and we look at it from a critical eye to say okay, you guys really think this is cool and fun and it’s going to really enlighten that group.

But what’s going to happen to me as a Baby Boomer entering that lobby space and not feeling comfortable or not feeling like there’s a place for me to do my tasking or my work that I want to do. Or my just socializing is a lot different than what the millennial is. So I think the design team coming together, understanding the demographic of where the hotel is at, too for one, but the demographic of the hotel is and how we as designers pull together all our age group and all of our intent of what we expect in a space, so that we don’t miss it.

Glenn: So then the question I have to ask you Patti is what is something that you learned from KB and Julie that really was cross-generational that you went oh, I didn’t realize that you guys were into this or something of that nature?

Patti: I think the check-in technology. You know I’m back from that generation where that gasp experience first when you walk in, the big magnificent desk. And I’m learning now how comfortable that is for me as a guest coming into the hotel, that that person behind the desk can step out and around and interact.

That was different for me and I learned how comfortable this group is with that. The technology aspect of everything, whether it’s in the check-in, whether it’s going into a library space and how they would view to work in there or to hang out versus how I would. So I learn something from this design team every single day. And of course, that’s what keeps me so young and fresh.

Glenn: Yes and you know, seemingly a millennial as well. So alright, so KB, what is something that you learned perhaps about some of the generations that came before you that made you go oh, I didn’t realize that. Let’s incorporate that into our designs.

KB: I think it’s important at this time to make this design transitional and to transition slowly the millennials because I know people are not comfortable with nobody behind the desk and just checking-in in an iPad. I think it’s important to bring that in, but also provide what has been and I think it’s a comfort area for people to see what they’re used to. And I understand that. And it’s important for us to realize that as well.

Glenn: Right, so KB, you want to kind of bridge the gap between something that’s a more formal experience and a more casual experience that younger travelers are getting more accustomed to, yes?

KB: Exactly.

Patti: You know, another thing that we really, you know, felt as we ventured downtown and into Chicago and looked at different lobbies is how does the lobby transition the mood from that early Monday morning business traveler getting ready for that meeting to that, okay, long day of meetings, I’m back at the hotel and how does the mood change for all sectors in the evening hours or late afternoon. And I think that also had a great deal to do with our design is being able to change the mood of the lobby from the morning to the late afternoon to the evening.

Glenn: Ooh, now that is something that I think is really exciting. I’ve been preaching about that on the road that you need to have a different feel for different day parts. So you’re actually going ahead and you’re going to try to pull that off at HI Connect® Design, April 2 through 4 down in Nashville?

Patti: We’re going to try.

Glenn: So Julie, what about you? You know you’re helping put together this project, what are some of the things that you think are important to bring to the party here?

Julie:Again, just incorporating all of the different aspects of living that we have going on. You know, I can’t divulge too much information but it’s that sense of arrival when you walk in or vignette and that kind of feel and mood that we’re starting in that entry space and then as you transition to the other zones that we’ve created, we’re excited to see how our guests feel as they transform into all the different areas and how they interact differently and just exchange information and just to see how all the different people interact within what we’re trying to do.

Glenn: That’s great. Now I’m very excited to see what you guys are going to pull off. And I’ve got to wait until April 2nd as well because you guys are not even telling me what you have in store. And that makes me very sad. But I can be patient, I can wait because I know this is going to be the greatest event of the year.

Act now to be a part of this amazing event. For more information relating to this unique and dramatic experience at HI Connect® Design, this April 2-4, 2014 visit HI Connect® Design to learn more and register for this unique

If you want to be a part of, or for more information relating to this unique and dramatic experience at HI Connect® Design, this April 2-4, 2014 visit HI Connect® Design to learn more and register for this unique event that sets the new standard in hospitality tradeshows.


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