The future of design is happening now. As the industry continues reaching new levels of financial profitability mixed with the reality of fiercer competition, creating winning design rooted in a sense of place that forms and emotional connection with the guest is more critical than ever.
It’s the glue that gets guests sticking with your property or brand. And without smart forward thinking design these days, well, you might as well give up trying to charge premium rates. Savvy guests know better, and if they don’t inherently know it they only need a click of the mouse to spot your weakness when it comes to visual appeal.
“The luxury market is changing and there is huge opportunity to respond to that. But we also have to cater to a lot of different travelers,” said Anita Degen, Principal of Degen & Degen, during a future of design panel held this morning at this week’s BITAC® Luxury event at the amazing and historic Hotel del Coronado.
This week marks Hotel Interactive®’s® 56th BITAC®, an event that’s been sold out for many months. The event attracted industry elite representing leading and forward thinking hotel companies. And they’re all coming together during BITAC® to build relationships, problem solve, sign deals and exchange ideas that move forward the quality of experiences for hotel guests. There’s even time to cut loose, be social and network in a luxurious and relaxed environment such as last night’s amazing seafood clambake on the beach, one of the top industry social gatherings of the year.
According to Renee Chiarelli, Senior Associate with tvsdesign, guest experience is the driving force all design trends. “We should cater our designs to both age groups, millennials and older people. It is about balance and creating different social settings in a flexible environment while maintaining the complexity of the details.”
Barbara Best-Santos, Hospitality Director NW Region, with Gensler, says it is more than that; it’s about seeing what the competition is doing and taking design steps beyond that level. Best-Santos also sees the future of luxury design as stripping away the in your face aspect of technology to create a more soothing hotel stay. “We are designing for a more serene experience. Technology is absolutely critical but it should not be overpowering. Playing into that I also see service levels you find in Asia will creep into the U.S. market. But then the question becomes ‘how you will afford that’.”
She also says to take a more holistic approach in each property and be a little more inventive.
One way technology is coming into hotels has nothing to do with the internet or guest convenience. Art is getting digitized and making its way into design elements other than the art on the walls.
“We try very hard to come up with different technologies. Digital art is one of them and it enables us to incorporate art into all avenues of design such as wall covering, carpet and more,” said Janet Van Arsdale, President and Founder of JVA Art Group. “When we collaborate with designers as part of their team we can enhance the designer’s story and develop an artistic environment.”
“The magic formula is really the experience coupled with service. That is what makes for a luxury experience,” said Degen.
Finally, we also used our state of the art real time polling system to find out what attendees think of the morphing luxury hotel experience. Here’s what they had to say rounded to the nearest percent:
Which is more important to you for capturing the future Luxury consumer?
Focus on Design – 19%
Focus on Technology - 7%
Focus on Customer Service – 21%
Focus on Experience – 53%
When you are developing a luxury hotel what is the business mix you expect?
Domestic travelers mainly – 12%
International travelers mainly – 13%
An even mix of domestic and international travelers – 75%
Are you rethinking luxury hotel design to adapt to a more global traveler?
Yes, we want it to have an international feel – 27%
Yes, our customers want a clean and modern look with local flair – 61%
No, people want a local look and feel – 11%
How are you adapting hotel designs to appeal to new and future travelers?
We are rethinking the entire stay experience completely – 31%
We will make many changes – 26%
We are looking at only changing some key elements – 39%
We think our hotels are perfect the way they are – 4%