Designing for the Evolving Guest Experience

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Brent Mather, Principal, Genlser

The emergence from the economic downturn has fueled a robust development cycle in Denver and in the state of Colorado. This is an exciting time for the hospitality industry as consumer trends are having an incredible influence on leading edge thinking.

In general, people are becoming more discerning with their choices and the impacts of those choices. As a result, consumers are now expecting the hospitality companies they do business with to do the same. A collective shift in consumer values and behavior began several years ago and likely will continue to evolve. The hospitality industry has already started to address this shift, which has resulted in several new trends described below:

Demonstrating True Environmental Stewardship

Hotels must increase visibility of sustainable design efforts and operating practices, thus raising awareness of such programs among consumers. This includes water conservation and recycling programs, energy management and reduction, and the use of local, sustainable materials.

Providing a Uniquely Local Flavor

Hotels must convey an honest, authentic style that integrates elements of the local environment and the community, yet maintain the essence of the brand and provide the expected level of service without sacrificing quality or comfort.

Catering to Guests’ Personal Preferences

Over-the-top and extravagant experiential spaces are now largely out of fashion, as consumers seek design restraint instead. Simple, understated elegance is the current aesthetic expression that consumers are seeking. Consumers are also craving lobbies that are not only just a point of arrival, but also serve as a place to work, relax or socialize. In the guestrooms, consumers are seeking flexibility to work, exercise and relax.

Leverage Innovative Technology

The desire to incorporate as much technology as possible into guest services is becoming refocused to the implementation of smart, straightforward technology instead. Consumers look for integration of multiple technologies, such as lighting, HVAC, TV, audio and computer amenities, into single, easy-to-use controls.

Incorporating Wellness Into the Guest Experience

The consumers’ desire to stay fit and healthy – in both mind and body – is growing. As spa services become more about well-being than pampering, access to fitness facilities, wellness treatments, and healthy food and beverage instead are now considered must-haves by hotel guests.

Bridging the Generational Gap

As consumers focus more and more on the well-being of their extended family, they also seek more time spent together. This means spaces designed for multigenerational uses, including kid-friendly spaces.

Savvy hospitality companies have already begun to address the conscious consumer’s demands for many of these trends. Armed with new research, the hospitality industry now has the opportunity to address these demands for the benefit of consumers at all price points. This is an incredibly exciting time to be in the hospitality industry as old paradigms fade and new thinking, tailored to designing for the guest experience, comes to the forefront. \\ brent_mather@gensler.com

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