Designing a guest-centric future for your hotel
Rachel Carr Director of Design and Consultancy suggests some pertinent questions and offers some hints and tips to help with design decisions.
What is design?
Ask ten different designers and you're likely to get ten different answers. In truth, design is all around you. Everything man-made has been designed, whether consciously or not.
"Walk in the shoes of your customer"
That said, a lack of consideration to design can leave your guests with a poor overall experience! A recent survey highlighted the top three "peeves" from typical hotel guests - all easily remedied with a bit more thought to design.
Bedside lighting. "Can I read when my partner is asleep?" "Can I turn all lights of from my bed?" The annoying scenario where you have to use your phone as a light whilst navigating a dark, alien hotel room to make your way to bed is one of our travellers top peeves. Simple to avoid - install bed side lamps and/or control panels near the bed.
Mattresses. Critical - and very personal! "Firm or soft, spring or foam?" The increasing choice for domestic use has raised the guest expectation. Think about selecting a "signature mattress" or a good quality mattress topper - after all, a poor sleep experience is typically the primary form of guestroom complaints!
Working guests. Know your guest split between corporate and leisure and ensure the room layout is suitable for the working guest. Can they fit their laptops on desks without having to clear it of marketing materials? Are there enough easily accessible electrical sockets for laptops, mobiles and tablet devices?
Delivering great design
Following the simple "4D's" design process, gives you a simple way to make sure your design work is thoroughly considered, well planned and delivered - to time and of course, budget!
Discover: Look at your industry in a fresh way, notice new things, seek inspiration from customers, competitors, and industry publications to gather ideas for your business. Read reviews from your customers, and talk to your staff; see what your issues have been, and focus on them.
Define: Prioritise. Make sense of your "discover" findings, and develop your brief. What are your guest needs? What do your operational team need? How long will the rooms be out of service? It's this rationalisation of ideas that will bring you a realistic goal and the roadmap for getting there.
Develop: Refine your ideas, evaluate the ideas, and develop solutions. At this stage, set up test scenarios - for example, you might want to set up a "test room". It's important to test as much as you possibly can, before full implementation.
Deliver: Your ideas realised and launched. Work with industry recognised suppliers who have the same goals as yourself - they will take pride in product quality, work to time constraints and your budgets.
Future design trends
Colour, lighting, carpets, furniture, fabrics - increasingly, interior designers, manufacturers and suppliers are working together across fashion, retail and hospitality - to deliver a "joined up" approach to both design and the supply chain. The key for hospitality however, is longevity and endurance and whilst design trends need to be considered - they should be used to show design flair, not theme!
So whilst the colour for 2013 is indigo - it should be the accent colour to a more neutral palette; lighting should be functional and energy efficient, whilst "making a statement" in, for instance, public areas. Furniture and fabrics should reflect a softer, more "homely" feel and carpets should be the foundation of the design scheme to reflect a simple yet classic finish.
All that said, in my opinion, the key to great design is balance in colours, style and functionality. Design allows you to create something unique to your hotel, something that can convey character and personality through subtle styling. It is signature design and ambience that defines a property.
Rachel Carr, Director of Beacon Design and Consultancy
Pulled out quote: "What is important is what design means to you, your brand, and most critically - the guest experience."