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Making Old New Again

It’s time to goose your lobby to reflect shifting consumer trends. Here’s exactly what to do.

Friday, December 19, 2014
Cherryl Marie
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Your hotel lobby has always represented a central welcome area for guests and these days it’s critical to keep up with what your customers demand in a lobby experience.

Customer expectations have radically changed and now your lobby is the focal point of attention. So the question becomes are you maximizing your appeal in this emerging profit center? Now the lobby has transformed into a popular, bustling social hub for a variety of audiences, so you must adjust with the times to keep your business humming. No matter the scope of your next hotel lobby renovation, here are some great tips on how to preserve your best qualities while incorporating new assets that will please patrons and new guests alike.

Hotels need to constantly adapt to the industry’s trends so recognize the audience you’re trying to capture and cater to them. According to Marriott International’s annual report, Millennials accounted for about 19 percent of its U.S. business room travel in 2013. The company projects that rate to increase to 34 percent by 2020 as the next batch of Millennials graduate from college and enter the work force. As a result, the Company is currently renovating three of its Palm Beach County to draw in the ever-so-popular millennial crowd – through modern touches, trendy cocktail lounges and new age entertainment offerings well loved by city-goers in the surrounding area.

Communicate often to both guests and your team members. You need to educate your staff with the changes before they occur so that they are prepared to answer questions. Display clear signage and provide updates as to when things may or may not be accessible during the construction. Be as transparent as possible by including news on your website and social platforms.

The Westin Convention Center in Pittsburgh dedicates a page on their website with all the information about the remodel that guests need, stating that “upon arrival, our staff will guide you to the temporary location for check in as our lobby and front desk area will be undergoing a transformation.” Moreover, while their F&B venues in the lobby are closed for the interim, they state that guests “can find dining options at the Penn City Grill (located on the second floor) or via our in-room dining menu.” We all know that that the best follow-up to an absence or lack of offering is to provide alternatives to your other delicious options.

Be respectful and considerate of your guests by scheduling much of the renovation plan’s heavy lifting during off-peak hours. Don’t let the temptation of completion and results blind you from why you’re doing this in the first place – to elevate overall guest experience. Reduce the impact of construction noise by blanketing it with drapes and putting down carpet to absorb sound levels.

Identify up front just how extreme of a change you’re seeking to make. It’s vital to your destination’s success that you don’t sacrifice the elements that have made your hotel the go-to hotel for your guests who return time and time again. You want to keep their loyalty while finding a perfect balance of gaining the allegiance of new fans.

In the heart of Old Quebec, Canada lies The Fairmont Le Château Frontenac which with the help of the Rockwell Group, just completed major renovations. Changes included a $2 million lobby makeover that married historical elements with contemporary touches. Designers restored key features such as marble floors and original wall sconces and complemented them with new elements, such as new lobby furniture that pays homage to the original designs of the architects who designed the tower, furniture and light fixtures in the 1920s.

Have confidence that you can make things new again without losing the gems that made you shine bright to begin with. Be creative. There’s always something that can be re-used in some shape or form. Repurpose old glass by staining them into artwork; use crystal accents from a light fixture and incorporate into your lobby bar décor.

Make sure your design is representative of the message your hotel is trying to instill in your guests. What do you stand for? What do you want people to remember about your hotel? If it’s music, like Hard Rock Hotels across the country, there should be artist displays on your floor. Row NYC, with its long history, unveiled the result of a two-year renovation this past March, which included an artistic transformation of its lobby. In just that space alone, guests are treated to a 24-foot-high crystalline glass façade, an illuminated grand staircase and light sculptures that showcase graphic animations by artist Yorgo Alexopoulo, New York’s graffiti-artist-turned graphic animator.

On Monday we’ll give you even more great ideas to help make that lobby relevant and a profit center.

Cherryl Marie
Hotel Interactive® Editorial Division
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