Define your design

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RACHEL HUMPHREY
AAHOA Interim President & CEO

Design is an integral part of the guest experience at a hotel. From the ornate Tiffany stained-glass windows, palm-filled lobbies, and bronze statues found at historic hotels to the sleek minimalist lobbies of more recent builds, design shapes guest perceptions of a hotel and can set the tone for their stay.

Yet, for many years, stringent brand standards did not afford select- and limited-service hotels opportunities to incorporate original design into their properties. Rather than being able to reflect local color or the owner’s originality or creative preference in their properties, hoteliers adhered to uniform designs that rendered each hotel largely indistinguishable from others under the same flag or even within the same segment.

Fortunately, times, guest preferences, and, ultimately, standards are changing. We are in the midst of a veritable brand explosion, and many of the new hotels fall into the select- and limited-service segment. As hotel companies face a larger variety of concepts at competing hotels, design is key to differentiating and ­defining a hotel.

Because more select-service brands are looking to create a boutique experience, they are focusing on design choices that elevate uniqueness and localization. When guests are immersed in the unique cultural offerings of cities like New York or Miami, they don’t want the experience to end when they walk through their hotel’s lobby doors. If a guest is planning to spend their days touring Los Angeles, and a property’s vibe is more quiet suburban evening than Hollywood Nights, they may choose a competing hotel whose design complements the city’s atmosphere.

Additionally, with more select-service hotels beginning to occupy urban spaces, site-specific design quickly jumps from a luxury to a necessity as hotels seek to attract savvy guests looking for an accommodating price. Hoteliers are also seeking out nontraditional spaces for development to capitalize on government incentives, such as historic preservation tax credits that encourage the revitalization of historic buildings in older communities. This can present exceptional design opportunities for hoteliers looking to capture the history of their property’s building and location.

AAHOA is committed to bringing designers and hoteliers together to give properties modern aesthetics that contribute to unforgettable guest experiences. In recent years, AAHOA’s Officers spoke about hotel design at conferences such as BDNY, BDwest, and HX: The Hotel Experience. Today’s Hotelier dedicates an annual issue to industry design trends, and the AAHOA HOTEL OWNERS ACADEMY™ developed a revenue management and optimization webinar on how to convert to a boutique hotel on a budget.

This November 10-11, AAHOA and Emerald Expositions are joining forces to reimagine HX: The Hotel Experience Powered by AAHOA. The conference is co-located with the BDNY conference at the Jacob Javits Convention Center in New York City, NY.

Nowhere else is the axiom that competition breeds innovation more apparent than in hotel design as hotels look to distinguish themselves to attract new guests and keep past guests coming back. This is an exciting time for our industry, and, as the select- and limited-service hotels continue to break free from the rigid design standards of the past, we can look forward to a more vibrant (and unique) future.

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