Ms. Locke

Furniture, Fixtures & Equipment

Hotel FF&E Means More Than Just Decorating and It Starts With Smart Design

By Amy Locke, Director, Interior Design, Hatchett Hospitality

Why can the manufacturer of the Dr. Skud flyswatter, which was crafted by famous French designer Philippe Starck, sell five cents worth of plastic for $12?

Why has the Motorola Razr V3 set sales records when it doesn't work any better or differently than other cell phones?

Why does Apple's iPod dominate the MP3 player market when there are many similar devices available from other manufacturers?

The answer to all three questions is the same - smart, striking design.

Americans are increasingly sensitive to and motivated by good design. Sure, we evaluate products and services with our left-brain for attributes such as price and usefulness, but increasingly we also look for right-brain qualities such as emotion, meaning, look, and feel.

In short, we don't just want products and services that are utilitarian - we want them to have style and to be objects of desire.

It's why Target sells such mundane, everyday items as toilet brushes and vegetable scrubbers that have been designed by superstar architect Michael Graves.

It's why McDonald's is transforming the harsh, plastic-heavy interiors of its stores into soft, earth-toned places with upholstered chairs and attractive pendant lights.

These companies know that in a crowded marketplace, you need something special to stand out. They understand that design is a fixed cost - you pay for it just once - but it adds value over and over again, every day with every customer and every transaction.

Thomas Gale, a well-known automobile designer for Chrysler, put it well when he said, "Good design adds value faster than it adds cost."

Now, more and more hoteliers are coming to the same conclusion - that good design is good business. But it's been a long, slow process and some hotel owners are still reluctant to invest in anything beyond minimal design.

To understand why, let's look at the difference between "design" and "purchasing."

Years ago, purchasing for hotels consisted of simply comparing the cost of different products and buying the least expensive. Interior design of a property often amounted to nothing more than deciding where to put these various low cost purchases.

Hoteliers quickly learned that the lowest cost product isn't always the best product. Purchasing evolved and became more sophisticated to include evaluation of both "hard" costs such as initial price plus "soft" costs such as product quality, delivery times, and warranty features.

Indeed, today purchasing is a science - it's a skill based in numbers and calculations. It's something tangible that can be measured.

By contrast, design is an art - it's based in colors, patterns, and shapes. It's not tangible and it can't be measured, at least not in the conventional ways that business people use as the basis for balance sheets and profit/loss statements.

But good design is more than just decorating - and it isn't so abstract or subjective that we can't translate it into some realistic tips and guidelines. So here we go.

It wasn't that long ago that people would describe a hotel stay by talking about its convenient location, great service, or spectacular views. Now, travelers often describe a hotel in terms of its design.

And savvy hoteliers are responding by using design to differentiate themselves from the competition, to attract a more affluent, socially-active client, and to create word-of-mouth buzz.

Amy Locke is director of interior design at Hatchett Hospitality. She works with franchisers and franchisees on a wide variety of hotel brands, styles, and themes – from economy to luxury, from resort to business conference, and from traditional to modern. Previous to joining Hatchett, she held a position in interior design with Ethan Allen Interiors. Ms. Locke earned a bachelor of fine arts degree from the Art Institute of Atlanta. She is completing a degree in feng shuiand is an allied member of the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID). Ms. Locke can be contacted at 770-227-5232 or Amy@HatchettHospitality.com Extended Bio...

HotelExecutive.com retains the copyright to the articles published in the Hotel Business Review. Articles cannot be republished without prior written consent by HotelExecutive.com.

Receive our daily newsletter with the latest breaking news and hotel management best practices.
Hotel Business Review on Facebook
General Search:

OCTOBER: Revenue Management: Technology and Big Data

Gary Isenberg

Hotel room night inventory is the hotel industry’s most precious commodity. Hotel revenue management has evolved into a complex and fragmented process. Today’s onsite revenue manager is influenced greatly by four competing forces, each armed with their own set of revenue goals and objectives -- as if there are virtually four individual revenue managers, each with its own distinct interests. So many divergent purposes oftentimes leading to conflicts that, if left unchecked, can significantly damper hotel revenues and profits. READ MORE

Jon Higbie

For years, hotels have housed their Revenue Management systems on their premises. This was possible because data sets were huge but manageable, and required large but not overwhelming amounts of computing power. However, these on-premise systems are a thing of the past. In the era of Big Data, the cost of building and maintaining an extensive computing infrastructure is incredibly expensive. The solution – cloud computing. The cloud allows hotels to create innovative Revenue Management applications that deliver revenue uplift and customized guest experiences. Without the cloud, hotels risk remaining handcuffed to their current Revenue Management solutions – and falling behind competitors. READ MORE

Jenna Smith

You do not have to be a hospitality professional to recognize the influx and impact of new technologies in the hotel industry. Guests are becoming familiar with using virtual room keys on their smartphones to check in, and online resources like review sites and online travel agencies (OTAs) continue to shape the way consumers make decisions and book rooms. Behind the scenes, sales and marketing professionals are using new tools to communicate with guests, enhance operational efficiencies, and improve service by addressing guests’ needs and solving problems quickly and with a minimum of disruption. READ MORE

Yatish Nathraj

Technology is becoming an ever more growing part of the hospitality industry and it has helped us increase efficiency for guest check-inn, simplified the night audit process and now has the opportunity to increase our revenue production. These systems need hands on calibration to ensure they are optimized for your operations. As a manager you need to understand how these systems work and what kind of return on investment your business is getting. Although some of these systems maybe mistaken as a “set it and forget it” product, these highly sophisticated tools need local expert like you and your team to analysis the data it gives you and input new data requirements. READ MORE

Coming Up In The November Online Hotel Business Review

Feature Focus
Architecture & Design: Authentic, Interactive and Immersive
If there is one dominant trend in the field of hotel architecture and design, it’s that travelers are demanding authentic, immersive and interactive experiences. This is especially true for Millennials but Baby Boomers are seeking out meaningful experiences as well. As a result, the development of immersive travel experiences - winery resorts, culinary resorts, resorts geared toward specific sports enthusiasts - will continue to expand. Another kind of immersive experience is an urban resort – one that provides all the elements you'd expect in a luxury resort, but urbanized. The urban resort hotel is designed as a staging area where the city itself provides all the amenities, and the hotel functions as a kind of sophisticated concierge service. Another trend is a re-thinking of the hotel lobby, which has evolved into an active social hub with flexible spaces for work and play, featuring cafe?s, bars, libraries, computer stations, game rooms, and more. The goal is to make this area as interactive as possible and to bring people together, making the space less of a traditional hotel lobby and more of a contemporary gathering place. This emphasis on the lobby has also had an associated effect on the size of hotel rooms – they are getting smaller. Since most activities are designed to take place in the lobby, there is less time spent in rooms which justifies their smaller design. Finally, the wellness and ecology movements are also having a major impact on design. The industry is actively adopting standards so that new structures are not only environmentally sustainable, but also promote optimum health and well- being for the travelers who will inhabit them. These are a few of the current trends in the fields of hotel architecture and design that will be examined in the November issue of the Hotel Business Review.