First impressions matter.
One of my favorite books is Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink, which examines the power behind what’s called thin-slicing. Thin-slicing is when you make judgements about something or someone in as little as five seconds. Your initial impressions of a new acquaintance or even a product are perceived as more accurate than after being exposed to them for longer lengths of time.
There’s some skepticism surrounding the term, but I’m a big believer, especially when it comes to the hotel industry.
With hotel management software, for instance, a complicated user interface usually foreshadows difficulties managing its various features, not to mention being just plain confusing. Not going to leave a good review there.
Even when you walk into a hotel, interior design can affect the way you feel about your stay. Whenever I’ve walked into a dingy lobby, chances were that my room wasn’t going to get any better.
If you want to improve your guest experience, having a fantastic design can be one of the ways to establish the kind of hotel you are. And it doesn’t have to be hard, either.
When you think about interior design, I’m sure you’re thinking of expensive remodels, full of hardwood floors, accent walls, and statement pieces.
But what if I told you that you could invest in a few small touches right now, things that can immediately improve your guest experience as well as some plans for the long run? That something as seemingly insignificant as lighting can be the difference between a stressed and relaxed guest?
Below, I’ve covered three ways hotel interior design influences guest experience, listing quick tips so you can improve your guests’ stays right away.
Sometimes too much is just too much.
When you walk into a hotel room, you expect the essentials and maybe even a few accents that make the room a little more special. But imagine a hotel room bursting with accent pillows that take up half the bed. What about artwork taking up every inch of space on the wall? Or even a bathroom stocked to the brim with extras?
Less is more. Let me show you.
According to a 2015 survey by the American Hotel and Lodging Association (AHLA), 40% of hotel stays are business travelers, amounting to more than $176 billion in sales revenue each year.
Why is this important?
Work is stressful, even for the best jobs. So when a guest returns to their room after a day of meetings, networking, or delivering a big presentation, taking time to relax is paramount. At the end of the day, a simple place to sleep or prepare for the next day is all that’s needed.
Think about it. People don’t travel just to stay in your hotel room (though that would be pretty cool).
Take this: if you have five different accent pieces on the top of a dresser, that’s less space for your guest to arrange their own things. Think of a hotel room as the bare bones of a personal living space. You have to have room for your guest to actually live in there, too.
Furthermore, having less stuff in your hotel room can also save you money. Say you have five paintings in each room with a property of 100 rooms. Want to cut down to two paintings in each room? That 300 pieces of art you don’t have to pay for.
A decluttered room is a decluttered mind, not to mention more money in your pocket, money you could be using for marketing campaigns or starting a hotel wellness program, the latter of which can also improve your guest experience.
Give your guests some room to breathe, some space to live.
Guests are gravitating toward more socially conscious spaces, even when it comes to travel.
“Eighty-one percent of travelers place importance on properties implementing eco-friendly practices,” Jenny Rushmore, director of responsible travel for TripAdvisor, tells Forbes, “and 88% of U.S. hoteliers indicate that they currently have some green practices in place.”
No to mention, Millennials are now favoring eco-friendly properties more than ever, to the point where they will actually spend more to stay at these green accommodations.
According to Nielsen, “66% of global respondents say they’re willing to pay more for products and services that come from companies that are committed to positive social and environmental impact, up from 55% in 2014, and 50% in 2013.”
Plus, going green can actually lead to extra green (money, that is).
Now, becoming a LEED-certified building can be a long and expensive process, but there are small steps you can take if you’re willing to make an investment
For example, if you decide to renovate your space in the future, you can invest in locally-sourced materials and sustainable fabrics or other recyclable materials.
You can always be a bit more literal with your green design, too.
Spending time in nature has the ability to calm and soothe people. Even hospitals with a bit of greenery here and there can result in less stressed patients. Some can even help purify the air in your hotel rooms.
While you don’t necessary have to create a forest in your hotel, having a more relaxing room can help business guests looking for a relaxing space at the end of the day. Having happy guests tends to lead to positive reviews.
The Power of Lighting
Is lighting really a big part of hotel interior design? You’d be surprised.
According to Tim Anderson, aside from functionality, lighting can be a great tool to make spaces seem larger than they are.
“Both natural and man-made lighting help with the illusion of space,” Anderson states. “For a darker room, find ways to bring in more full-spectrum natural light. If the room does not have sufficient lighting, it will feel cramped.”
Ever been in a hotel room that had one miniscule window? Your room may be dark and cool on a hot summer day, but extra sunshine can potentially improve your mood. Really.
Some quick fixes include sheer curtains as an option under a heavy blackout drape for light while maintaining privacy. Even strategically placed mirrors can do the trick by capturing light and reflecting it around the room. Mirrors alone already make a space appear larger.
In terms of artificial lighting, this principle is much the same. Light colored walls mixed with warm lights can create the feeling of a large yet inviting space. Dimmers may also be a good route to enable guests to adjust to their lighting preferences, with lower light closer to bedtime and full light when doing work.
On a greener note, you can also invest in lighting technologies to save you some money and increase the technological appeal of your hotel. Motion-detecting lights may not be best for hotel rooms, but great for community spaces to ensure that lights are off when no one is using the space.
Did I miss any interior design tricks that can improve your guest experience? Make your case in the comments below.
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