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Reinventing the Next Generation Hotel

The industry is rapidly changing, here’s some ways to think differently about new hotel design.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014
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The hotel industry is in the midst of a big shift as newer consumers to the marketplace converge with savvier design elements. So while today’s hotels will by no means be outdated, next generation hotel designers and industry suppliers are rethinking how to create properties that wow guests.

Next gen hotel design is not about new color patterns or interesting textures on the wall. It’s much more than that. At BITAC® Purchasing & Design East this week we’re talking about the wholesale reinvention of everything the industry assumed was sacrosanct.

BITAC® is of course the industry leading one-on-one meetings and relationship building event. This week marks our golden 50th BITAC® meeting. Yup, we’ve been at it for 10 years and these events consistently attract the lodging executive elite representing leading and forward thinking companies. They’re all here to come together not just to celebrate this momentous 50th BITAC® but to problem solve, network, sign deals and exchange ideas that move forward the quality of experiences for hotel guests, while adding profits to the bottom line. There’s even time to cut loose, be social and network in a luxurious and relaxed environment.

But when it comes to design, there’s plenty more to discuss than that lobby trend. Take the guestroom for example. Changes due to technology are making designers rethink how they approach this space.

Mark Van Hartesvelt, Founder & Managing Partner of Hospitality Results, said many people are using Skype, for example, these days and that’s forcing him to consider guestroom design differently.

“When our guests are doing video calls from there room suddenly it is not about what is front of the guest. Now it’s about what the people on the video screen see behind the person in the room,” he said.

Interesting notion. And it’s an important one because these days taking the experience outside the hotel walls helps sells rooms more than ever before. And so will reinvented design elements that are social media friendly.

Take the bathroom, for example. “There’s a lot more integration of technology into seamless modern design. Many are designed around the TV,” said Tyler Jones, International Sales Manager with DECOLAV, a leading, ADEX award-winning manufacturer of a wide range of high quality bath products including lavatories, glass fixtures, bath furniture, vitreous china fixtures and other related products.

Utilizing out real time polling system we asked attendees what they thought of the role technology plays in new hotel design. An astounding 52.5 percent said it redefines all new FF&E design while 35.6 percent said it will have minimal impact on FF&E design. Another 7.1 percent said FF&E design is immune from technological changes.

The good news is that lodging executives and industry suppliers are working well together to deliver exciting new products that will meet this new paradigm.

“We are seeing the interface between designers and suppliers and it’s yielding great results,” said Jason Hanson, Director, Sales, Hospitality with Coretrust.

That sense of partnering together to deliver solutions is what BITAC® is all about, but it was also great to see that attendees feel that suppliers are mostly doing their part to bring innovation to the hospitality marketplace. But there is still room for more innovation said attendees.

According to attendees 22.8 percent said suppliers are doing an ‘exceptional’ job at innovating while 43.9 percent said “They do a pretty good job.” More than a quarter of attendees (27.4 percent) said “suppliers could innovate even more” while 5.9% said “designers drive innovation, not suppliers.”

Interestingly Andrew Simpson, Director of Design and Construction with Fortuna Realty Group, noted that sometimes working with the big brands can box owners into creating properties that don’t feel reflect their overall vision. This is especially true, he said, in markets such as New York City which are atypical compared to most other cities and secondary markets.

Simpson was working with a brand and wanted to add specific amenities such as rooftop bar to a focused service hotel project they were creating. They balked at first, but he worked out a deal to bring the project he wanted to, to life.

“Brand standards are not made for New York construction. I feel boxed in by standards many times but we have been fortunate that brands are cooperative, except when it comes to competing with star ratings within the company’s brand family,” said Simpson.

The dichotomy here is brands are working to keep standards in check so they don’t muddy the product differential of another in the franchise company’s brand portfolio. So it’s easy to see how there could be friction as owners are looking to create the most profitable experience where the hotel brands are sometime focused more on a bigger picture than individual owners feel they need to consider. This issue can cause a hotel to get a theoretical lower star rating than an owner desires with the classic rating systems company. But in the online world this issue seems to be less relevant.

So we asked attendees if they think design standards can box you into a lower star level rating because of current rating systems. In all 199 percent said “Yes, it’s causing a lot of consumer confusion while 51.8 percent said “Yes, it’s causing friction between owners and brands. A big 22.4 percent said “Yes, for both reasons above” while four percent said “No, it’s irrelevant.”

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