The hotel sector is increasingly more diverse, offering varying levels of service that caters to many different types of guests. However hotels – whether housed in a grand historic building, a sleek new-build pavilion, a converted hospital, or even within factory-built bedrooms – and the developers and operators we work with, are all affected by the same socio-economic, cultural and environmental trends.
These centre around the guest experience, mediated by digital tech. In particular, the race is on to anticipate the future needs and aspirations of guests along the whole customer journey. From discovery and ease of online booking, the comfort, convenience and instagrammable enjoyment of the stay, all the way through to the positive online review, success depends on building loyalty and positive expectation.
In this mix, the physical building – how it looks, how it performs, how it sits in its urban context, how it supports both customers and staff, and more-often its community – is of fundamental value-adding importance. Designed today but operated for many years into the future, we asked ourselves how we can continue to meet and build up the customer’s expectations; as positive expectation is a key contributor to a fantastic guest experience.
Designed today for future operation
Will rooms become more customisable, able to be adjusted to suit the ‘home from home’ needs of every new guest before they arrive? Or,will guests be able to personalise their rooms to suit their mood or current needs? Should beds merge into sofas? Should there be built-in projectors for when guests stop working and start their boxset binge? And could the aparthotel model lead on shaping kitchenette areas where guests can cook up comfort food?
In our integrated team of Landscape, Interior and Architectural designers, we are wondering if light-wells, courtyards, gardens and grounds can work harder by not only introducing beauty, calm and delight but by serving our essential needs? Might we soon need buildings to produce food, clean water or, as we proposed in our biophilic Outside Inn hotel project, purify the air quality? Will the wow-factor green aesthetic complement a deeper ethical engagement with the world?
One thing is clear: it is no longer enough to simply understand how hotels operate. As the boundaries between work, leisure and home life blur and expectations change, so the best solutions will blend skills using trends borrowed from a range of other sectors.
Our dedicated hotels team is fortunate enough to be a part of a much larger integrated multi-disciplinary practice working in offices across the UK. Our award-winning interiors and hotel design nous is cross-fertilized with ideas and influences from other sectors and backed up by our passionate teams of planners, conservation specialists, BIM experts and offsite manufacture specialists. So, whether we’re pushing the boundaries of architectural excellence in the use of modular volumetric construction or sensitively upgrading historic buildings to high-end hotels, our joined-up approach not only maximises your asset’s value but also creates unforgettable leisure environments.
John Colvin is a Senior Associate Architect and Head of Hotels and Leisure at Stride Treglown. He will be attending this year’s Annual Hotel Conference in Manchester.