Design as an investment in tourism industry

There is always one mission all sorts of tourism accommodations should serve at the end of the day: to deliver a flawless guest experience suited to the guests’ style, preferences and needs. Layout and design plays a critical role in this. At the same time, even a simple renovation can pay off quickly.

Here is why:

 All features of design such as décor, ambience, style, aesthetics, comfort, functionality and practicality, make an overall visual impact and evoke emotional response.

 The design of a hospitality/tourism establishment can provide an identity or character to the accommodation establishment. Design elements, tangibles such as architecture, décor and furnishings, and intangibles such as ambience, contribute to guests' overall experience and can be decisive factors in guest satisfaction.

 Design is an easily observable indicator for the levels of service, quality and comfort that your accommodation provides.

 In attracting guests, aesthetics is almost everything. Accommodation establishment that has been neglected over the years and is showing its age is not appealing to guests.

 Décor plays a major part in customers’ first impression, from the moment they start to look for accommodation: How do the rooms look like in photos? Apart from the facilities offered, how do I feel with the room/ apartment design lighting, space functionality? Does it suit my personal aesthetics?

 On arrival guests are looking at everything even before they enter the front door. How is landscaping presented? How does the entrance hall look? Is there a feel-like-home, a traditional or a very contemporary atmosphere?

 Effective design can also enrich guest experience and therefore help create distinct competitive advantages for your business.

 Design can help you keep up with the fast changing technology, sustainability and accessibility demands that impacts on travelers’ decisions. While providing a pleasurable experience to guests is a must, addressing environmental concerns and / or accessibility can be equally important.

At the end comes the review: The first thing that guests complain about in their reviews is if the property is outdated, the entire ambience does not meet their expectations or it needs a revamp. Time to stop turning a blind eye to renovations!

Rejuvenation of your accommodation, whether it be new carpets and drapes or an upgrade in the ambience and functionality of the common areas or rooms/ apartments, goes a long way towards protecting your assets as well as maintaining superior guest services

  Assessing the attractiveness of your PA

When was the last time you renovated your rooms and apartments?

Whether for refreshing or remodeling your property, assessing its attractiveness on your own is rather challenging. However, you can take the following “test” in the form of assessment questions as an initial and generic guide to start with; then ask for specialized advice and support if necessary.

Read the “10 Warning Signs It’s Time to Renovate Your Small Hotel''. Are there any signs of those mentioned therein in your rooms and apartment? If so, hurry on and refresh ASAP!

Does your existing interior design support and reflect the unique identity of your target markets? How is this uniqueness being reflected in colors, lighting, fixtures and materials in guest rooms and/ or apartments? Does it differ from other accommodations in your destination?

Does your private accommodation have a look your target customers will remember? Are there bold design details supporting the creation of memorable experience, always in line with their specific needs and preferences?

Does the entire design of your property reflect the local design and decoration techniques? Does it showcase the local character, ambience, comparative advantage and how?  

 What mood does the existing lighting induce to your space/ spaces? Does this align with the contemporary trends in your target clients?

What about the comfort and functional level of sofas, beds and dining/ breakfast facilities, etc? Do they induce a feel-at-home sense of luxury? Does furniture deliver comfort and functionality that keep pace with today’s standards?

Do you target also tech savvy travelers? Then, you should keep up with and provide the latest smartest technology in comfort. Do you provide universal chargers and plug sockets next to the bed for extra convenience? Are there any other smart appliances like automatic coffee makers?

Are you sitting comfortable? Does your room(s) meet the high bedroom/ bathroom layout standards?

  Planning for renovation

Common challenges you may encounter and should expect during renovation are:

  • Completing renovations in an operating property
  • Keeping the renovation project under budget
  • Completing work within a short period
  • Effectively dealing with existing and unknown conditions without negatively impacting the budget, the schedule or guests

Effective planning can help you avoid contingencies and complete a successful renovation project of any scale & budget.

Just keep in mind the following:

  Have a clear vision and objective for the project. Take time to assess your facility and visualize your target customers needs and expectations in terms of functions and aesthetics. Getting advice from an architect or interior designer might be the key for success.

  Predefine your own standards for the time, cost and quality of the project. Is the timeline attainable according to your resources and the operation schedule?

  Choose an experienced project manager. For large scale refurbishments, involve a qualified project manager. For smaller projects, it makes sense for you/your manager to oversee the project, if you have the time, skills and inclination to do so.

  Create a detailed scope of work and document the budget: The project manager needs to precisely determine the scope of work to be performed, the length of time required to complete the project, and create a plan to execute the project without major disruptions to guests. At this time, it may be necessary to close the accommodation establishment during the renovation for a period of time or map out a plan where only a certain number of rooms are renovated at a time, enabling revenue to be generated during the process. The project manager should document the budget and the timeline. Pay special attention to hidden costs!

  If your small hotel/accommodation operates during the renovation process, keep your guests happy! It wouldn’t be a surprise to find a bad review of dissatisfied guests due to the renovation works that are being done during their stay. If a guest complaint emerges, your staff should be fully prepared to deal with that by offering quick solutions. Those can include: 1. money refund, 2. alternate accommodation, 3. some kind of compensation for the noise – free meals, free drinks, excursion trips or similar.

  Once completed, communicate widely your newly renovated and decorated accommodation: Share, update, make your renovation project heard!

Generic tips to increase your accommodation appeal

Regardless of the current design trends, the following design elements remain fundamental for perfecting guest experience through design-led practices:

Your accommodation should be aesthetically appealing to the guests and practical at the same time. This is the number one challenge design copes with. Keep a balance between operational functionality (ease-of-use, safety requirements, etc.) and the physical environmental elements (such as furniture, fixtures, equipment, plants, art, etc).

It should also appeal to the destination characteristics and be consistent with the local area.

  First impression: First impression matters and the setting of the front desk, reception, entry hall or entrance layout is of utmost importance

  The design or re-design process should be target-market-led and not vice-versa.

  Truly unique identity and authenticity: Whether through providing luxurious fittings, themed bedrooms, unusual exteriors, etc., your operation should reflect a unique and/ or individual style with a distinctive vision and language in presentation. Dare to be different, following your target clients’ prospects! Attain authenticity through specific art, decoration and music choices.

  Unity and harmony: Décor elements, furniture, etc. should be well-harmonized with each other and the wider layout of the small hotel. Unity and harmony demand that size, shape, textures, colors and ideas are pleasingly related. Select a rhythm (minimal, rustic, luxurious, youngish, etc.) and adhere to it!

  Bed comfort: the most important but frequently neglected segment of the overall accommodation experience.

  Lighting: can create mood and ambience. Different lighting can boost different energy levels, make guests more likely to interact with others, or help them relax and feel at home, and so on.

  Go green: Whether you target eco-travelers or not, green credentials of any sort of tourism accommodation are important. Over-sized windows for natural lighting, natural building materials, green walls and green roofs, recycling bins for guests, electronic water faucets, and graywater recycling are just a few of the main trends for going green.

For a more specific guide read “Design elements and principles”