Travelers in 2018 have different expectations than they did in 1958, when an almost universal hotel room blueprint required a bed, two nightstands, a desk and a restaurant hotel that served eggs and bacon in the morning, and meat and potatoes at night. We chatted with Barbara Best-Santos, associate principal at Forrest Perkins, who recently managed a $90 million redesign of 1,270 guest rooms at Flamingo Las Vegas. She shared five ways hotels are changing to meet the needs of today’s groups.
1. Prepare for Insta-worthy Spots by Design
Everyone seems to be looking for Instagrammable moments, especially when on the road. Designers are now thinking about where people can take signature photos when designing spaces and building that in. Whether it is a kitchy chair, a balcony view or a unique art piece, photo opportunities are a required element in a hotel room today.
2. Hotel Restaurants are Going Big or Going Away
The three-meal-a-day, sit-down restaurant is less important to travelers than the option of a grab-and-go meal. People are looking for a place to get coffee and something healthy to take with them. If the hotel restaurant is included, it needs to be distinctive and reflect the attitude of the property or the place. People want to discover unique dining experiences when they are away from home.
3. Look for New and Improved Amenity Bars
Many hotel rooms today include Nespreso machines with flavored coffee and creamers, to-go cups with lids and snacks to get people ready for their workday. Look for stashes of locally produced goodies, honey from a rooftop hive, gourmet popcorn or granola, and other branded items to connect visitors with the city.
4. Extreme Tech Access is Built into the Room
Free high-speed Wi-Fi is finally becoming the rule. And multiple outlets in every conceivable place allow guests to charge all of their devices at once without ever losing connectivity. Because more things are being controlled through smartphones, including door entry, room temperature, curtains, and messages for housekeeping and front desk, the house phone may soon disappear in favor of a computer in a mirror that will allow you to order room service, program your music and brush your teeth at the same time. You will simply walk into the room and tell it what to do.
5. Business Centers are Endangered
Outside the hotel room, today’s business traveler needs only a terminal or two and a printer, and that can be integrated in a corner of the lobby instead of hidden away. This allows guests to enjoy the great feel of a communal room when they are traveling alone, rather than being stuck in a closet in the back while they answer their email and print a report for the next day. Bonus—they can grab a glass of wine or meet with clients in a pleasant setting.
The bottom line is that people want to feel special when they are traveling. They want to smile, and spaces that take into consideration how they live and work will make them happy. That is good news for event professionals because how attendees feel about the hotel space can impact how they feel about the entire conference.