4 Ways Covid-19 Could Change Hotel Design & Operations
With a quarantine in place due to Covid-19, the hotel industry has faced one of its biggest challenges in history. Over the past few months, hotels have had to plan for what comes after while simultaneously adapting to the new norm of social distancing measures. Many hotels & brands have found creative solutions to their problems during this time and have also been a vital resource to those in need even though the industry is in need itself.
Now as states begin to loosen regulations and we approach a time where travel restrictions begin to lift, what areas of the industry will change as guests return to hotels? And what changes should hotels & brands start taking into consideration now to be best prepared for when travel picks back up?
One thing is for sure & that is that there will be new standards for hotels to reach, if not by brand standard or PIP then by the traveler’s expectations.
In response to the impact this pandemic is having on the industry, we attended Hotel Business Magazines virtual conference on how Covid-19 will impact hotel design and took away 4 key points to share with you here along with our thoughts.
1. The Continued Presence of Biophilic Design
Biophilic trends in design have been present recently and will remain present for the foreseeable future. But now instead of focusing on the aesthetic aspect of the trend hotel designs will more than likely start implementing functional aspects of the trend as well. For example, what you may start to see in new build designs or even if possible renovation designs will be exterior corridors and communal spaces that encourage social distancing while not making you feel isolated.
2. The Demand for Better, Cleaner & More Sustainable Quality Standards (HVAC & Design Materials)
Max Luthy from Trendwatching states in the conference that guests will want to feel safe/secure as from the moment they walk into your hotel. Ways to achieve this are through visual and sensory cues, for example, an airlock feeling when walking through the doors or with a clean smell. Another way to give guests a sense of wellbeing lies in the continuation of biophilic design. Hotels who incorporate aspects of nature to their designs can expect their guests to feel more secure & clean. Colletta Conner with ForrestPerkins adds that design should not just give the guests a sense of well being but also incorporate cleaning into the design with self-cleaning surfaces and the availability of cleaning dispensers & increased amounts of hand sanitizers for guest use. Colletta also adds that she expects that HVAC standards will improve so that air quality is a priority to brands.
3. Handsfree Tech
Technology that may not have been vital to a hotel’s performance before may become a new competitive advantage in the industry. Voice automated speakers, alarm clocks, TV’s, etc. can help add to that sense of well-being by allowing guests to avoid contact with some of the most used items in their hotel room.
4. The Elimination of the Physical Key Card
Following this pandemic, we may see the end of those plastic rectangles that get you into your hotel rooms (or at least a limitation of them). Instead what we can expect is the updating of rooms to include sensors that allow you to use your phone as your key card instead. There are of course pros and cons to this for example the pros would include having a more sanitary way of getting into the hotels locked exterior doors & rooms as well as not having to run back to the desk if your keys stop working. While on the cons side the lack of a physical key could prove challenging to those who do not have a smartphone or for those whose phones have died. A simpler alternative to both options that will be most likely will be better sanitation of room key cards whereas the guest will be able to see you sanitize them before handing them over.
As travel returns to its high we expect travelers to look for hotels that:
- Have adopted new safety and cleanliness measures to protect their employees & guests. Guests will want to see that there are plenty of ways your hotel is keeping them safe as well as your employees. The availability of sanitizers and cleaning stations is an example of how to make your guests and employees feel safer. Another example is the plastic half-walls that separate guests from employees when checking in.
- Are more sustainable. Most hotels have adopted sustainability measures because of the effect it has on a guest’s perspective of the brand. Adding more measures such as, for example, switching to energy-efficient windows could only help a hotel stay competitive.