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HI Connect® Designer Spotlight - Marji Waldman and Andre Landon

Today we speak with Marji Waldman of The Stroud Group and Andre Landon of EDI International, as part of our series focusing on the hospitality designers, architects and purchasing pros participating in HI Connect® Design 2014.

Sunday, March 30, 2014
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HI Connect® Design
HI Connect® Design
Experience a Design Revolution

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. Or call 631-424-7755 x150 for an immediate response.
For today’s interview, Editor-In-Chief Glenn Haussman speaks with Marji Waldman of The Stroud Group and Andre Landon of EDI International who are creating a next generation Millennial Guestroom during the three days of HI Connect® Design.

Glenn: I love talking to you because I think you’re able to give me like the level of insight that I just don’t see. You guys are there, you’re experiencing it. And you’re going through all of these cool things to learn about where we’re going with hotel rooms.

So the question I’ve got to start with is: What is going on out there in general terms in regards to hotel design?

Andre: Thanks to you guys inside for letting us take an experiment with a new room type, which you guys didn’t have on your agenda but allowed us to explore the Gen X/Gen Y category of rooms. And we really feel like that’s going to be a strong sector of the market. And that whole group wants excitement and interest and experience that are somewhat random, so we think at our age, but they’re really not to them. They’re really important events that I think they need to experience.

They also love the interactive nature of a guest room or an experience, electronics, ways of using their iPhone in cool ways. They want to control the environment with their iPhone.

Glenn: So it’s all about creating an experience for the guest. And I think that that’s one of the things a lot of people are talking about in the hospitality industry, is how to create more experiences in the room.

You know, Marji, where are you seeing all of this?

Marji: I don’t think that the guest rooms right now are really entertaining the next level of guest, who’s the 20 to 30 year olds who are not there yet. They’re not paying for the rooms. They’re at bay right now. And two outlets aren’t going to do it for that generation, and for the people that are older than them that have embraced the type of technology. So we’re gonna see a huge change in the whole industry trying to capture that type of client.

Glenn: Which makes a lot of sense. But how is this now different than what we went through a few years ago with the lifestyle hotel craze?

Andre: Well, I don’t think it’s really a lifestyle. I think this is beyond lifestyle. I think this is the way the world is going to be. We’re in such a transitional world. We’re in an electronic world. And I don’t think that’s ever gonna stop. And I think that’s where these 20 and 30 year olds are gonna take us. And that’s I think the 50 year olds, when they become 50 years old, they’re gonna be still hip and doing all the cool things that they’re doing now. They’re just gonna be doing it faster and better.

Glenn: So how are we as a hotel industry supposed to be able to adapt to these changes that are coming so quickly now?

Marji: You have to really be able to embrace it and be able to look ahead of the curve and look at what’s out there now, but how can you make it better, how can you pair things together. It’s about multi-functionality. It’s about interactive-ness. And all of those things aren’t really being addressed right now. A lamp was always a lamp, a bed was a bed. Well, that’s not really the way it is anymore.

Glenn: So how is it then?

Andre: A bed is a desk. Yeah. A bed is a party space. You know, you cross your legs, you put your laptop on it. You know, who needs a task light anymore? You know? You’ve got a screen that you’re dealing with. I mean, you just want something maybe you can turn a strobe light on and sit there and just groove to your headphones and play some video game.

Glenn: I like that.

Andre: And here’s the other thing. What’s great about the hotel industry is that you’re gonna change those hotels anyway. Why not monitor what the culture is doing and take those hotels and let them be a response to that culture? And I think that’s a really great thing about hotels, is you’re gonna change them every three years, or you’re gonna change them every seven years. And this is a great opportunity to develop something far cooler than, you know, just your mom’s hotel.

Glenn: That’s right. And I think that’s what it’s about. And that’s what you guys are gonna be playing with at HI Connect®. “Me at Large” is the theme of your room. So tell me a little bit about how that experience is gonna be different than what I get at, I don’t know, Courtyard by Marriott.

Andre: Ah. Yes. Well, when we concepted the room we thought the room ought to be, as I mentioned before, interactive, the room ought to be alive; it ought to have a life that you can play with. And that’s the key word “a room you can play with.”

Glenn: You’re also doing like a nontraditional layout for the room. You’re kind of reimagining how that’s gonna be, right?

Andre: We are. We are. We’re trying to imagine that the rooms would have an opportunity to have a majority of people, maybe people coming from other rooms coming down, chilling, sitting around. And, as I say, they don’t sit the way we think they sit anymore. Desks are kind of passé in this group. I mean, who uses a desk other than just throwing their stuff on it?

Glenn: Well, I do, all the time.

Andre: Okay, but-, but how old are you?

Glenn: Yeah. Alright. So, 83 and I love my desk. Although the chair never seems to be the right height to the desk so I always feel very tiny which is very sad.

Andre: That’s right.

Glenn: But then again I am 3’ 6” so I guess that’s why I do feel tiny.

So, Marji, tell us a little bit more about what you think the room is going to be perceived as in terms of that experience.

Marji: Like Andre said, we want it to be a lot of fun. There’s going to be a lot of choices that can be made. And we also are giving a lot of opportunities to the hoteliers to capture some revenue from this room, things that they may not have thought about before.

Glenn: Andre, you were talking about everyone has that screen, and that’s only gonna continue to increase. So how does the room change, that you envision, to deal with this influx of electronics that people are bringing in with them?

Andre: Well, you know, I mean, we’re certainly dealing with the things that everybody needs, which is charging devices. But what we’re looking at is being able to control the room with whatever device you have. You can come in on your iPhone and you could control everything in the room. And we think that that’s a lot better than a switch on the wall.

Glenn: Yeah. I also think you could take that just a step farther. If you already-, a step further, rather. If you have that app already engaged with it, it knows who you are and it knows probably your setting. So I would love to see a day where the temperature comes on to what I already-, it already knows, the lights come on to the level that I like, and it only shows me the TV channels I care about. Who cares about Discovery Channel and ESPN? As long as I have Oprah and Lifetime then I’m all set. Right?

Marji: That’s right.

Andre: Well, that is right. I mean, you know, the idea taking to its conclusion, at least right now, is when you check in you get Room 629 app, and everything that happens in 629 is on your app and you can customize it the way you see fit. Lighting, television, sound system, everything is wireless.

Glenn: It sure is. That’s really-, that’s really amazing. And it’s gonna be so cool to see where things go.

Marjorie, anything that you want to add before we wrap up?

Marji: No. We’re just really excited to have everybody see the room because we think they’ll be really excited about some of the products that are going to be both in the hospitality setting and transitioned into retail as well.

Glenn: Excellent. And I think that’s really important because the rooms need to make money, money, money. So why just sell them on the room when you can sell them on experiences within the room?

Andre: That’s exactly right. I mean, there are tremendous opportunities. There’s marketing opportunity to sell product out of this, as Marji said. Some of the elements that are in the room are easily sellable. And, you know, it is a moneymaking effort.

Glenn: Right. That’s great. So make sure you come down to HI Connect® Design April 2 through 4, in Nashville, Tennessee, that’s hiconnectdesign.com to learn more about it and see what these guys are going to do. It’s going to be an amazing experience. And I can’t wait to find out what you’re gonna do because you won’t tell me. They won’t-, they won’t even tell me off the air. That’s how serious they are here.

Andre: Flip him a coin.

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