For most people, an initial impression when entering a room will form the basis of their entire experience. When walking into a hotel, the lobby sets the tone. One out of every five guests (re: boutique and lodging surveys) say that their decision of coming back to the same hotel is influenced by the opportunity to “experience and be engaged.” A key question then is, what does a guest mean by the opportunity to “experience and be engaged”?
Front desks are increasingly being replaced with sit-down concierge desks, where guests can sip on coffee or wine while staff check them in with iPads. The lobby is the guests’ first interaction with a hotel’s physical space. It should be inviting, not pragmatic. Many hotels already have cafes, restaurants, or bars connected to their lobbies. Others are thinking beyond those mainstays, incorporating specialized bookstores, galleries, and libraries into their lobbies, which opens up a space for community members and guests to interact. Many hotels are engaging their community resources, utilizing locally made products or food, into culinary events on a daily basis thereby shifting the focus to localized experiences. Reception desks are also evolving, as many hotels are installing pod-like stations, allowing for increased engagement between employees and guests and improved customer service. Further, some reception areas are functioning with a single desk, encouraging guests to check-in on their phones, emphasizing convenience and ease. Current trends are leaning toward all-in-one concepts, which combine registration, restaurants and lounges into one larger, open space.
Creating personalized guest experiences require the conversion of technology, lighting, furniture, humans plus AI robotics, interior design, pop up restaurants, and any culinary and beverage events located within that space. Consider upgrading existing marketplace displays, which can help you tap into the on-demand/convenience economies, and complementary beverage service stations for hot and cold drinks. These upgrades can set the mood and reinforce the positive engagement between employee, hotel and customer.
Create living spaces with seated furniture, which facilitates customer engagement, while adding sustainable components (e.g., hydroponic herb garden and plants, living walls), complemented with effective lighting and wall color. Designing spaces that incorporate elements from nature encourages an emotional connection with our environment, which will not only provide a sense of experience in your guests, but also contribute to the productivity of your staff. Nature “has a restorative effect,” reducing stress and contributing to overall well-being. Now that’s a hotel you will likely visit again.
One of the 2018 trend predictions is that food and beverage areas within a hotel will begin to fuse cohesive with the entry experience. Formal lobbies will be minimized, while food and beverage areas will be prioritized, flowing into the public spaces and creating a livelier, welcoming experience. This concept further urges hotel guests to get out of their rooms, which energizes the lobby and restaurant spaces. Furniture pieces should be fully loaded with convenience outlets, and writable walls and tables that can easily be turned into a casual conference area. This generates revenue for the hospitality market and creates lasting memories for the guests.
Lobbies and restaurants in hotels are not new concepts, but the approach to making these spaces more desirable to guests and members of the community is novel and also quite critical. Whether it’s incorporating design elements to showcase the community the hotel is located in or creating a seamless transition from the street and sidewalk areas to open public seating, dining and drinking options, the common spaces should draw everyone in—not just out-of-towners who are looking for a place to sleep.