In Singapore (and the world), the business strategy of hotels is changing—because the way people use hotels is changing. With the rising popularity of the sharing economy, growth of millennials, and digital disruption, travellers are increasingly savvy today.
According to the Asian Digital Transformation Index, Singapore emerges top of the list with a high ability to transform ourselves in the face of digital disruption. The hospitality industry is no exception—now, more than ever, it is being disrupted in a major way, and is undergoing revolutionary changes.
For instance, no longer are food options bound by the limitations of a hotel and its immediate vicinity; they now have access to the entire city’s kitchen right on their fingertips, with the likes of UberEats and Deliveroo.
Additionally, modern travellers are now increasingly gravitating towards being fully immersed in a unique experience and environment—and millennials are one of the fastest growing markets for such preferences.
Riding on the back of Singapore’s push for creativity, there have been greater calls for design principles to be looked into for more sustainable living. In the same vein, to stay relevant, hotels need to better understand their guests’ needs and design an experience that provides an all-encompassing, enticing offer, or risk becoming a building that just happens to be filled with beds for rent for the night.
So how does Interior Design factor in?
To the layman, interior design might be known as simply the backdrop to all of your meals, birthday parties, and holidays. When wielded effectively though, interior design can affect your guests subconsciously; it calms, excites, and can even induce hunger. A popular theory is that brands like McDonald’s, Burger King, and KFC use the colour red in their logos and outlets because it whets an appetite.
It is no different for hotels. You might not have had thought about this before, but when you picture a pristine, comfortable hotel room, you picture white sheets on the bed. White sheets exude a sense of luxury, and they look and feel clean—the same reason that bathrooms and hospitals are predominantly white. All of these details that one typically overlooks plays a part in an all-encompassing design environment. As they say, good design is obvious, but great design is transparent.
A hotel’s interior design goes beyond the painting of a wall to a certain colour and having it become a feature wall. It also focuses on creating exceptional social space and providing quality lodging amenities. Interior design is about creating a space that allows for the best activity flow.
One good example would be huge lobby spaces. In a study by Hilton, it was discovered that guests enjoy being “socially alone” i.e. they desire to be in a large social spaces, even if they do not use them to mingle with others.
Artyzen Hotel Group, which has the affordable-luxury citizenM, is one hotel that acknowledges the lobby’s growing influence. Reinventing the boutique hotel experience, citizenM makes it a point to incorporate its signature “living room lobby concept”, presenting multiple zones to relax, meet, and work. Likewise at the Grand Copthorne Waterfront Hotel, traditional reception counters are gone, making way for guests to flow from one space to another with the lobby, restaurant, and bar integrated into one.
Essentially, by providing guests an area to linger for prolonged periods, hotels add to their return on investment through food and beverage sales. Having evolved into more than just a space people pass through in between destinations, hotels have become a more appealing setting for guests. Clearly, design has a far reaching impact beyond simply aesthetics.
Hotels will need to constantly evolve to keep up. Travel and human interaction as we know are changing every day. Gone are the days where people need to fly thousands of miles over oceans to see someone’s face or hear someone’s voice. Technologies such as Skype and virtual reality have and will continue to revolutionise the way we travel.
To stay relevant, hotels need to keep their design, functionalities, and how they connect to their audience fresh and up to date. For instance, self-service is no longer a bad thing. Today, people are more willing to shell out money on experiences that enhances their lives, rather than on unnecessary frills. Hotels need to keep that in mind—that they are selling an experience, not simply just a room for the night.
A hotel design definitely needs to relate to its guest profiles seamlessly. The journey starts from the booking of the accommodation, and will last to the moment they walk out of its doors. The entire experience has to connect with the visitor, to communicate the hotel’s branding and unique features.
Interior design can be your arsenal to establishing that connection.
The views expressed in this column are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect this publication's view, and this article is not edited by Singapore Business Review. The author was not remunerated for this article.
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Joris has undertaken assignments in many countries of the world, acquiring knowledge, cultural insight, and awareness through a huge variety of project types. Possessing a keen eye for operational efficiencies, people flow, and ergonomic comfort, Joris blends his unorthodox and inventive design style to create combinations that are fresh and intelligent. Noteworthy projects to his name include: Novotel Clarke Quay Singapore, NTUC Foodfare Sports Hub, Robinsons Orchard, Zafferano, Toby’s Estate, and Goldman Sachs. Joris comes with a background in the world-renowned design school of Willem de Kooning Academy Rotterdam, where he shone as an exemplary student and a sports enthusiast.