This post is Part 1 of a 2 part series on hotel trends impacting the guest’s experience. Below is Part 1 on Macro trends. If you’ve read Part 1, continue on to Part 2 on Micro trends in the hotel industry.
The hospitality industry is constantly changing and evolving to adhere to guest expectations. As a result hotel brands are on the lookout for new ways to improve their customers stay and exceed their expectations. The brands that are succeeding are staying ahead of the curve and anticipating what customers want now and what they will want in the future. For this reason, identifying the latest hotel trends has become crucial in an industry built on making people feel happy and taken care of when theyâ€™re away from home.
At its most basic level, the hospitality sector specializes in managing human interaction while trying to maintain the perfect balance of personalization and technological accommodation for their guests â€“ a practice that every hotel brand, large and small, engages in. An essential part of this formula is a hotelâ€™s design.
The design, bothÂ interiorÂ and exterior, is often the most effective way to make an exceptional first impression – a first impression that guests new and old use to distinguish between brands. By incorporating bold and unique designs into a brand identity, a hotel is tapping into our most basic senses, an important step towards maximizing the guest experience and setting themselves apart from the crowd.
After an analysis of our elite designers covering large, small, and emerging markets throughout the US and Canada, Ambius has identified a collection of macro and micro trends that are driving hotel designs today and into the future.Â Macro trends are trends that affect architecture, engineering, and design on a large scale.Â In Part 2, we discussÂ Micro trends, which are defined as small-scale trends that are typically aesthetic or topical in nature.
Looking ahead, these dynamic hotel trends offer opportunities for management, engineers, architects, and interior designers alike to get a glimpse of whatâ€™s to come.
Â Macro Trends
Natural Materials & Biophilic Design:
This trend is more than hotels simply integrating more plants into their design, itâ€™s bigger than that. Hotels are turning to the many benefits of biophilic design to enhance their brand and their guests overall experience by tapping into the wellness and well-being properties associated with this design trend.
For those who donâ€™t know, biophilic design is based on the concept of biophilia, which is the theory that we have an innate tendency to seek out nature, natural elements, and natural forms. The Natural &Â Biophilic DesignÂ trend is spearheaded by the biophilia philosophy, which is characterized by:
- Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Exposure to natural lighting
- Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Views of nature / Room with a view
- Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Natural architectural patterns
- Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Use of sustainably sourced materials
- Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Living green walls / Vertical gardens
- Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Direct and indirect exposure to nature
â€œWell-being, biophilia, and even concepts such asÂ hygge, are becoming increasingly well understood and embraced across all industries and business types,â€ says Kenneth Freeman, Director of Innovation at Ambius. â€œWeâ€™re witnessing the wellness and well-being economy go mainstream, and thereâ€™s no sign of the trend slowing down anytime soon.â€
AsÂ biophilicallyÂ designed spaces continue to gain momentum, high-end and mid-tier hotels alike areÂ reaping the benefitsÂ associated with theÂ trend including reduced stress responses, better air quality, lower energy costs, and moreÂ positive guest reviewsÂ due to their investment in biophilic dÃ©cor and design. In fact, a newÂ report from Terrapin Bright GreenÂ suggests that guests will spend on average 36% more time in hotel lobbies that have biophilic elements.Â
The immediate effects of the natural and biophilic trends occur asÂ guests enter the hotel, and are multiplied for hotels in urban landscapes due to the lack of nature in cityscapes. Guests entering these spaces can expect to find things like salvaged or reclaimed woods of all types, reclaimed metals, sustainably sourced stone, exposure to picturesque landscapes or the incorporation of plants and greenery.
The effects of biophilic design in hospitality settings was explored further in the Human SpacesÂ Biophilic Design in Hospitality report, which found that when comparing biophilic and conventional hotel guest reviews side by side, maintenance and service were mentioned most in guest reviews of conventional hotels while reviews of biophilic hotels mentioned nature and design most. This finding suggests that this trend plays a strong role in creating a unique guest experience.
â€œHoteliers are aware thatÂ nature-inspiredÂ elementsÂ enhanceÂ their hotel guests comfort and well-being, which is why weâ€™re seeing more of it,â€Â says Ambius design expert,Â JOanneÂ Craft. Â â€œThereâ€™s been a tremendous amount of interest in green walls and preserved moss panels because of their exciting and innovative nature, and these products offer a unique one-of-a-kind “Wowâ€ focal feature for the hotel”.
Key Trend Motivators:
- Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â BiophillicÂ design reduces overallÂ stress levels
- Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â BiophillicÂ design increasesÂ guests mood
- Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Natural design elementsÂ improveÂ brand image
- Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Consumer demand for environmental responsibility
Showcasing Local:Â Â
There is a growing emphasis on artisanal,Â handcrafted, and locally sourcedÂ everything,Â and this trend doesnâ€™t only apply to food and retail. Increasingly this trend applies to the hotel and hospitality industry as the demand for hoteliers to showcase local products and art has taken on a new level of importance.
â€œShowcasing local artists is a way for hotels to distance themselves from the overly generic feel that once permeated the hospitality industry,â€ says Ambius designer,Â Chris Karl. â€œGuests notice when something feels unique and handcrafted or created. Â This has led to sourcing more local artists, craftsmen, and artisans to incorporate into the overall design and aesthetic of the hotel. These local touches may be relatively small but they make a big impact on guests perceptions of the property.â€
The Showcasing Local trend is quickly gaining steam andÂ the hotel industryÂ is changing rapidly to accommodate. The reason for the momentum is due in part to the overall trend towards local experience and getting to know an area.
A 2017 Boutique & Lifestyle Lodging Association (BLLA)Â surveyÂ of over 1000 hoteliers found that â€œGuests are looking to have enhanced experiences that are unique and not cookie-cutter. They want to experience the â€˜placeâ€™ and not just the amenities the hotel has to offer.â€
Itâ€™s also a reaction to the success ofÂ AirBnBÂ and the home-sharing experience that provides a local experience built into its walls. This emphasis on local and regional goes beyond the dÃ©cor that guest experience in lobbies and guestÂ roomsÂ however, it also applies to the restaurants, bars, and eateries that are often found within or attached to the hotels.
Demand for more and more local is what lead to the farm to table movements whichÂ haveÂ created a growing localized meat and produce market. This is a trend that is destined to have a lasting effect, as it falls in line with a growing segment of Americans, especially millennials, thatÂ prioritize sustainabilityÂ and social responsibility as a purchasing driver.
Key Trend Motivators:
- Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Guests desire for localized or regional experiences
- Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Helps hotels compete with home-sharing companies
- Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Provides a more immersive, genuine experience
- Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Improves guest reviews
Co-Work // Life Spaces:
One of the newest and most pioneering ideas on our trends list is the growing number of co-working spaces and co-living hotels that are popping up across North America. This trend creates spaces for both work and play, and springs from guestâ€™s desire for connection and social opportunities.
â€œBusiness travelers are increasingly utilizing co-working spaces in hotels when theyâ€™re available, driving demand,â€ saysÂ Janice Nath, a San Diego based Ambius designer. â€œThese spaces are taking over hotel lobbies at the moment.â€
Co-working and Co-living spaces areÂ beginning to shiftÂ the Hospitality industryâ€™s primary focus away from the guest room and towards public common spaces, such as the lobby, in an effort to position themselves as hubs of social engagement, entertainment, and business networking. The idea of co-working spaces is not a new one, but adding co-working space to the lobbies of many of the worldâ€™s largest and most recognizable hotel brands and simultaneously changing the traditional functionality of the lobby is a huge deal.
The lobby and the surrounding areas are incredibly important to the overall image and reputation of the hotel, as this is where a guest will make their crucial first impressions. Itâ€™s this first impression that is paramount to the guest experience for many hoteliers, and designers are exploring new and exciting concepts to capitalize on this pivotal moment while still retaining the spaces functionality, visual appeal, and overall balance.
Co-working spaces are designed for both work and comfort and are highlighted by:
- Â Â Â Â Â Â Workstation areas / Workspace versatility
- Â Â Â Â Â Â Balancing Luxury and Functionality
- Â Â Â Â Â Green features / Indoor-Outdoor spaces
- Â Â Â Â Â Office-level technology /Â High-speedÂ Wi-Fi / Video capabilities
- Â Â Â Â Â Spaciousness / Open concept
Equally as exciting, the co-living space is a trend on the rise and is one of the more controversial and interesting trends occurring in the hospitality industry. The co-living space trend is rooted in the upstartÂ sharing economyÂ spearheaded by disruptive companies such asÂ AirBnBÂ and Uber.
Popularized in Europe and Southeast Asia, the co-living hospitality approach has its origins in the hostel tradition which is prominent in those parts of the world. Although similar in ideology to hostels, co-living hotels have much more accommodations, are more expensive, and can range from high-end luxury to mid-tier level.
Across the industry, the co-living hotel is garnering some serious clout, to the point whereÂ AccorHotels is investingÂ in a newÂ Jo&JoeÂ co-living brand. This is reflective of the increasing emergence of digital nomads and remote workers and travelers. This trend is on the horizon stateside as well, and many in the tech industry areÂ already anticipatingÂ this innovative new approach to the hotel space.
Key Trend Motivators:
- Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Attracts business travelers who account forÂ $280 billion each year
- Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Business travel isÂ expected to riseÂ heading into 2018 and beyond
- Â Â Â Â Â Â Â MillennialsÂ are driving co-living/working economy
Old Hotel Trends Have to Go:
Out with the old and in with the new is the hotel industryâ€™s new mantra. According to a Hotels Magazine and Readex Research report, 37% of hotels have plans to begin renovations within the next three to 18 months, with 32% occurring within the next year. A motivating factor causing the recent uptick in renovations is that we live in an era where a hotel’s reputation can be irreversibly damaged by negative reviews and negative social media.
In this industry environment, hotels are forced to constantly look for ways to improve themselves and their offerings. This requires hoteliers to keep their finger on the pulse of consumer habits and guest trends. The hotels that survive and prosper are the ones who are restoring and renovating for the future.
ThereÂ areÂ a multitude of reasons why hotels renovate, however they mostly revolve around keeping the hotel as fresh and current as possible. Regular and ongoing maintenance is always part of the plan, but the new â€œdo more with lessâ€ approach recommends hotels start in selective focus areas, rather than splurge on a top-down renovation during the slow season.
TheÂ measured renovation approachÂ focuses renovations on the following areas in order:
- Â Â Â Â Â Â Rooms:Â The room is the space in which hotels will make the biggest impact and which they receive the greatest ROI.
- Â Â Â Â Â Â Food & Beverage:Â Keeping restaurants up-to-date while streamlining kitchen and wait staff processes will always be the key motivators.
- Â Â Â Â Â Â Lobbies:Â Balancing functionality and extravagance is the key to a great lobby renovation. A swing too far towards functionality could lead to a loss of the â€œWowâ€ factor. A swing too far towards extravagance and youâ€™re likely to overspend on your budget.
- Â Â Â Â Â Â Meeting Space:Â Without an investment in meetingÂ space, you risk losing or alienating business travelers â€“ a key demographic within theÂ hotelsÂ industry. Although on the bottom of the list, itâ€™s a necessity to keep conference rooms and meetings spaces current and up-to-date.
â€œRenovations are happening everywhere right now,â€ says Seth Hardy, an Ambius District Manager in a major East Coast hospitality market. â€œWeâ€™re seeing every major hotel brand in our area undergoing major interior renovations. Thatâ€™s when they call us in for the plant design and accent decorations associated with their updated brand standards.â€
Key Trend Motivators:
- Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â 37% of hotels are planning to renovate in the next 18 months
- Â Â Â Â Â Â Â 63.5% of hoteliers surveyed in a recentÂ BLLA SurveyÂ reported that their hotels favored renovating an existing site versus 36.5% who favored new construction
- Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Staying current drives positive reviews, reduce negative reviews
- Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Industry trends drive renovations
With their careful attention to detail, deep understanding of contemporary design styles and trends, and knowledge of current customer habits, Ambius design experts know best how to keep a hotel on-brand while maximizing the guest experience and balancing with the right amount of technology.
If you enjoyed this article and want to learn more about the trends and theÂ influencesÂ of design, youâ€™ll loveÂ Exploring the Hottest Office Design Trends of 2018.
*This article received expert contributions from Ambius design and plant experts,Â Janice Nath, Chris Karl, Joanne Craft, Roel Ventura, Seth Hardy, and Kenneth Freeman
Ambius designers are experts in enhancing the office space of businesses just like yours.Â Contact usÂ to speak to one of our specialists and get the ball rolling for improving your space today.