BITAC Purchasing & Design West Panel: Hospitality Design in the Present and Future

By David Berman | October 24, 2023

Hospitality design is a constantly shifting space, with designers having to keep up with industry trends and consumer tastes to consistently deliver inspiring and aesthetically-pleasing locations. At BITAC Purchasing & Design, taking place from October 22-24 at the Arizona Biltmore in Phoenix, attendees learned about the current state of hospitality design during a Monday afternoon panel. 

The panelists were first asked about current trends in design. Chelle Maestas, Principal of studioM Interior Design, and Rick Marencic, Design Principal and Studio Director of JCJ Architecture, both discussed new technology trends. Maestas said that face-to-face interactions between guests and employees will continue to decrease as more mobile technology is implemented.  

Marencic also mentioned that designers are always trying to save a few inches of space in the guest rooms. Using furniture and appliances that can consolidate space and serve multiple functions has become paramount. 

Edith Ponciano, Founder & Principal of EP Atelier, touched on two other trends she’s seeing, both of which she feels are a result of the pandemic. One is creating flexible spaces, and the other is incorporating the outdoors into the property through rooftop or ground-level terraces. 

Next, the panelists discussed the shift in guest expectations, and therefore, client expectations, for hospitality design. 

“I think convenience is what the guest expects,” Maestas said. “I think given the technology that we all are becoming accustomed to, instant gratification is important.”

Marencic said that expectations are usually different from segment to segment. 

“So, for this property … there’s going to be a certain expectation for front-facing service from the staff to the guest,” he said. “That would be different, of course, as opposed to a select-service option. I think, though, in all cases, guests are looking for some sense of value, whether that value is monetary that you might find in select-service, or whether that value is this kind of interaction with staff that you might expect at a property like this.”

The panelists also touched on some challenges that the design space is currently facing. Marencic mentioned staffing, cost of construction and cost of procurement as pressing issues. Ponciano said that keeping the original design vision alive amid construction and supply chain obstacles is a constant struggle. 

“I feel like on every large scale project, there are always discontinued products or just having to deviate from a design decision a couple years later once it’s in construction,” Ponciano said. “So it’s really trying to still keep your client’s vision alive. Having to deviate and pivot in a successful way, I think, is always very challenging.”

Toward the end of the panel, the panelists were asked about how the design space will change in the next 5-10 years. Maestas said that from the guest perspective, she sees room customization controlled from each mobile phone becoming more prevalent. Ponciano agreed, saying that design on the sports venue side is also shifting to more touchless interactions in ticketing and concessions. 

The panel wrapped up with a few audience questions. One attendee asked how designers stay up to date with operational challenges that impact design. Marencic said that he’s a part of the Arizona Lodging and Tourism Association and learns a lot about current industry issues and trends by attending their meetings. 


David Berman

David joined Hotel Interactive at the start of 2023. He previously worked as a page editor for Gannett’s Design Center and the editor-in-chief of The Daily Nebraskan. He graduated from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with degrees in journalism, marketing and advertising/public relations in 2022.

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