River's Edge Hotel in Portland, OR.

River’s Edge Hotel in Portland, OR with the Emerson Chair.


June 11, 2020


Everyone looks for what will serve them best for the trip they’re taking, whether it’s proximity to a convention center, a patio on the beach or the most affordable option. Hotel designs are rapidly evolving based on consumer needs and the goal of this article is to go over some of the most prudent and in-our-face changes being seen today. 


Sustainable approaches

It wouldn’t be 2020 without mentioning the gradual shift to sustainability in every aspect of life, and the hotel industry is no exception. Conscientious hoteliers are recognizing the impact their space has on our planet and are transitioning new builds and even retrofitting older ones with sustainable motifs. Kelly Sawdon, chief brand officer of the design team behind Ace Hotels, says hotels are utilizing carbon-neutral paint, biodegradable linens and sculptures that double as air-purifying systems to minimize their carbon footprint. In addition, many hoteliers are aiming to implement steps such as providing refillable carafes with water stations on each floor to replace plastic bottles and opting for water-saving showerheads to cut down on water waste. 


See how Six Senses Resort brand aims to be plastic-free by 2022.


Hand-in-hand with sustainability, people are longing to be in-touch with nature, while not losing the comfort and convenience of a hotel or resort. To remedy that sensation, modern hotel designers are seeing-to the addition of biophilic design elements. They’re implementing components such as large-scale living plant sculptures, interior foliage-filled sightlines and including natural materials throughout each hotel to connect guests a little more with nature. 


Image courtesy of Kamil Tatol.


Image courtesy of Taylor Simpson.


See more biophilic design ideas here


In-room tech

In 2018 alone, the use of artificial intelligence in businesses tripled from previous years. “If [your organization] doesn’t use AI, chances are high that your competitors do and this should be a concern” says Chris Howard, Chief of Research at business insights company, Gartner. Providing quick answers to day-to-day questions is made simple for chatbots with instant replies, and this is just one way hoteliers are looking to implement AI. 


Where hospitality and technology provide little overlap is with tech-implementations such as self check-in kiosks. “Our desire to offer the latest in technology is often at odds with the fundamental tenets of hospitality, which champion empathy and human connection.” says W. Brian Smith of Studio Tack. 


Image courtesy of Linus Rogge.


Read more ways to implement the human touch through the use of technology.


There’s a reason why a patron in a retail store is a ‘customer’ and that same customer evolves into a ‘guest’ when they’re checking in to a hotel. Guests are looking for a level of personalization when staying in a hotel. Individualization can be taken next-level with AI in the form of voice assistants, which have been making their way into many hotels pre-COVID-19 and are now more relevant than ever. With the ability to make these available in-room, guests can set alarms, request room service, get the weather report or even open the blinds. Processes can be personalized room-by-room, catering to each guest which makes this a popular trend experts only see growing in the hospitality industry moving forward. Such conveniences can save the guest—as well as the staff—time on simple tasks and will be the way of the future in hospitality.


Americans spent $242 billion on lodging in 2019 with an average nightly spend of $131. The options are innumerable for guests and technology and personalization go in perfect harmony to ensure a guest’s stay is world-class. The top competition for hotels across the globe come from short-term rental sites like Airbnb. This is due in part to having a few units or just one, and the skill to personalize each experience. Many hotels take a “one size fits all” approach when creating a location with numerous rooms with little variation between them. “Ditch generic for different” was the top advice for hoteliers from Mews, hotel property management software company. They conclude that what makes Airbnb different is their ability to provide unique experiences to each guest.


Something old, something new

Shawn Sullivan of Rockwell Group Architecture suggests that the juxtaposition of old and new objects will gain popularity in the near future. “Rich environments are trending and achieved through a range of techniques—from layering multiple materials and patterns on patterns to mixing old and new with found objects”. The contrast from vintage items and modern amenities allow for ultimate creative freedom without bounds.


Image courtesy of Evonne Yuwen Teoh.


Haptic-less conveniences

Features that are touch-free are on the uptick due to coronavirus. People are looking for contactless options from beginning to end: From touchless check in and out, voice-activated elevators and room entry, to touchless toilets and showers, the options are only growing as technology allows. With safety as everyone’s top priority, extra-precautions are atop everyone’s mind.


All things considered, designers are being given more creative freedom and are allowing their designs to have an avant garde look and feel. “Hotels will become a little more relaxed with the types of finishes so that materials have a more honest expression [and] they’ll be committing to sturdier, more natural materials that feel heavy and solid under hand and foot. I think we’ll also see less forced uniformity, especially with the use of textiles,” says W. Brian Smith, partner at New York City’s Studio Tack. This style deviates from the modern and ultra-contemporary design techniques popular over the last couple of decades. It allows for a more obscure design aesthetic with a focus on every property in a series being unique. 


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Trends in the Hospitality Industry, 2020 Edition
Article Name
Trends in the Hospitality Industry, 2020 Edition
Some of the biggest trends in the hospitality industry that we've noticed, and what some of the experts think will take off.
Publisher Name
Designform Furnishings


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