This article is the second installment of our two-part Hospitality Trends series. If you haven’t read Part 1 click here.

The hospitality industry, more than any other industry, has its focus constantly turned towards the future, always on the lookout for new and innovative ways to enhance the guest experience and keep their loyal guests coming back through their doors.

As styles change, consumer tastes shift, and design trends evolve, it’s necessary for hotels to be flexible, proactive, and open to new ideas. By incorporating bold and unique designs into their brand identity, hotels are tapping into our most basic senses – an important step towards maximizing the guest experience and setting themselves apart from the crowd.

In Part 2 of our Hospitality Trends, we discuss our Micro trends list. Micro trends are defined as small-scale trends that are typically aesthetic or topical in nature, versus our Macro trends article which affect building architecture, engineering, or large-scale design elements.

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.

Looking ahead, these dynamic trends offer opportunities for management, engineers, architects, and interior designers alike to get a glimpse of what’s to come for 2018.

Micro Trends


Rise of the Smart Hotel:

A certain level of technology has always existed in the hotel and hospitality industry. In 2017, guests expect to have a basic technology package consisting of a high-definition television with a wide selection of channels, a phone, access to WiFi, and any technology that goes with the kitchen or kitchenette. Technology is changing, however, and so are guests’ demands.

In order to improve the guest experience, hoteliers are turning to tech to help them gather important guest data as well as improve the overall experience and offerings. This trend is bringing the Internet of Things straight into your hotel room.

One amazing technology coming to hotels is guest management software that works using a personal profile created by a guest that allows the hotel to anticipate guests’ needs before they even arrive. That means your favorite candy bar, magazine, or bottle of wine could be sitting and waiting for you the moment you walk in the door based on your ordering habits and personal preferences compiled over multiple stays.

Hotels are also turning to scenting solutions to proliferate their brand scent throughout the hotel, and to create unique experiences in different parts of the hotel such as the lobby or spa areas. Scent technology elicits a feeling in guests that connects directly to their memory. Scent is paired with other technology to create and enhance an overall experience for guests.

Other cutting-edge technologies that go beyond the Smart-TV that are aimed at streamlining guest processes and enhancing the guest experience include:

  •         Keyless room entry using a Hotel-specific phone app
  •         Personalized entertainment selections / Access to all of your favorite shows
  •         Robotic Butlers / Pilot programs began in 2014
  •         Personalized guest room climate control / Lighting

Key Trend Motivators:

  •         Increased technological advancement rate
  •         Guest expect investment in technology
  •         Industry competition drives technological change
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Accent Plants Are In:

According to Merriam-Webster, the definition of Accent is “An emphasized detail or area; especially:  a small detail in sharp contrast with its surroundings”. This is a new way that plants are being used industry-wide alongside their traditional interior and exterior landscape uses.

This trend is in part an extension of the macro Natural and Biophilic Design trend that was discussed earlier, and shows how hotels are progressively turning to plants and plantscape designers to help them improve the guest experience.

The use of accent plants works alongside the Color & Patterns trend that comes up later on this list as well, in that they help to draw attention to certain areas while providing the perfect final touch to others. Succulents have held their place atop the list of popular plants for a long time, but their rise to the top hasn’t slowed down, it’s sped up.

“Plants that have an interesting natural or contorted shape such as succulents, air plants, architectural upright plants, or even mosses make excellent accent plants because of their texture, color variegation, and over-shape uniqueness,” says Ambius expert designer Roel Ventura. “These plants can be displayed by themselves and can really make a statement without needing too much or drowning out the design.”

Today, you’ll see succulents everywhere from the front desk, where they’re regularly used in floral arrangements, to guest rooms, wall decorations, and even Holiday decorations. Popular succulents include:

  •         Jade Plant (Crassula ovata)
  •         Burro’s Tail (Sedum morganianum)
  •         Jet Beads (Sedeveria)
  •         Echeveria (multiple varieties)
  •         Zebra Haworthia

It’s not just succulents that have been garnering attention across the industry, air plants are quickly becoming a “must-have” accent plant. Air plants are known for requiring very little water and little to no soil, especially in moist environments. These plants make great decorative accent plants, and are frequently placed inside glass jars and hung from ceilings or from walls to add a touch of green.

Although small in size, air plants can be just what brings a wall or space to life, providing just enough “pop” to capture the attention of your guests and the admiration of their social media followers. Make sure to keep an eye out for the following air plants:

  •         Tillandsia Lorentziana
  •         Tillandsia tricolor
  •         Tillandsia ‘Houston’
  •         Tillandsia Huamelula

Key Trend Motivators:

  •         Part of emerging design trend
  •         Promotes biophilic design Macro trend
  •         Increases brand profile

Colors Galore:

Greenery, Pantone’s Color of the Year, set the stage for a year of radical color shifts across the industry. The emergence of lighter shades and bold colors provides contrast and makes a brand statement that is meant to stick with guests as they arrive and after they leave. Greenery itself was chosen for many reasons, but one of the primary being its relationship to nature and Pantone’s desire to make a statement.

“It is easy to see that as a society there is a growing awareness and desire to connect with nature in all aspects of our daily lives, which is represented in Greenery,” said Ambius expert designer Laura Burns-Lambert. “We’re ecstatic to see shades of green flourish in the 2017 palette. With colors such as Succulent, Floribunda, and Forest Floor – it is biophilia, human connection, love and need of nature, at its finest.”

Along with Greenery, “colors such as white and gray have become the new black,” says Janice Nath. “Color is another way that brands can make an impact with their guests the moment they walk through the door, and we’re seeing that.”

Colors vary wildly from brand to brand, but a good example of bolds and lights coming together to create a brand impact comes from Holiday Inn Express’ new “Formula Blue” design with its revitalizing Fresh Blues and Greens as primary colors. Formula Blue also incorporates a variety of secondary contrast colors such as turquoise, orange, yellow, and Pure White. These colors range from bold and bright to cool and clean, creating a one-of-a-kind brand identity.

Key Trend Motivators:

  •         Increases brand recognition
  •         Creates an immediate impact for guests
  •         Part of collective brand personality or statement

Engaging the Senses:

When a guest walks into a hotel, a hotel has to make an impact. This is why there’s so much emphasis on making lobbies and public areas impactful for guests. The lobby is a reflection of the rest of the hotel and guests will generally come to the conclusion that if the lobby is dull and dingy, they can expect the same of the room, leading to potentially negative reviews which are bad for business and can lead to the loss of a customer base.

This is why applying scenting to spaces has become common practice across the hotel industry, as hotels aim to connect with guests on more nuanced and subconscious levels. Scent is hard to forget, so hotels are integrating it into their overall brand identity.

“Seventy percent of our memory is triggered by scent,” says Janice Nath. “Hotels have embraced scenting because it encourages returning clientele, which in turn will increase their property ROI.”

But hotels haven’t stopped with scent, they are experimenting with ways to create lasting memories to enhance the overall guest experience. Hotels are achieving this by pairing scenting with vibrant patterns, bold colors, one-of-a-kind artwork, and plants.

“Color has taken center stage and interior designers are specifying colorful containers with a variety of plant and flower arrangements to create dynamic and immersive spaces for their guests,” says Joanne Craft. “It’s quite common for hoteliers to request a plant for every room in four and five-diamond hotels. This is especially true of hotels with Millennial managers who understand the work-life balance, the healing power of plants, and the importance of creating unique experiences for their guests.”

Key Trend Motivators:

  •         Helps promote a cohesive brand experience
  •         Essential part of emerging guest experience trend
  •         Allows hotels to connect with guests on deeper level

Patterns & Textures:

Distinctive textures and pattern accents add expression to a hotel’s overall design.  Textures and patterns can make a space fun and vibrant, or sophisticated and contemporary depending on the space. These design elements are yet another way for hotels to quickly convey brand identity to a guest while also giving the guests a hint at the hotel’s overarching personality.

The re-emergence of bold and vibrant patterns in hotels is a direct response to consumers’ demand for unique and distinctive experiences and their disregard for uniformity and sameness.

This micro trend stems from the “Showcasing Local” trend, and hotels have responded by adding plenty of accent designs onto their walls and carpeted areas such as:

  •         Simple geometric patterns
  •         Clean lines
  •         Bold and complex Art-Deco
  •         Abstract Bauhaus patterns

However, with hotel guests gradually gravitating towards biophilic and eco-friendly practices and products, hotels are implementing more reclaimed or sustainably sourced materials such as woods and fabrics, and have turned to using recycled materials when available and acceptable.

A 2015 Nielsen report stated that a whopping “66% of global respondents say they’re willing to pay more for products and services that come from companies that are committed to positive social and environmental impacts,” a trend up 16% from just two years earlier.

In wake of the growing popularity of the green movement amongst hospitality companies, and armed with the knowledge that it pays dividends to invest in sustainability, it’s no surprise that the popularity of living green walls has risen exponentially in recent years. Green walls, or vertical gardens, are a way for hotels to make an immediate brand statement to their guests, add texture and design to any space, and reap the many benefits of bringing plants into a space.

Key Trend Motivators:

  •         Part of collective brand personality or statement
  •         Consumer demand for unique and distinctive experiences
  •         Part of collective brand personality or statement

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.

*This article received expert contributions from Ambius design and plant experts, 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. Contact us to speak to one of our specialists and get the ball rolling for improving your space today.