HOW SMART INTERIOR DESIGN WILL IMPROVE YOUR HOTEL OPERATIONS Comments Off on HOW SMART INTERIOR DESIGN WILL IMPROVE YOUR HOTEL OPERATIONS 887

It is no secret that interior design is amidst the most central aspects of a hotel’s appeal. However, many hotel developers do not look enough beyond the aesthetic aspect of interior design, missing another facet that is just as important: functionality.

Smart, innovative interior design not only pleases the eye and makes for a great guest experience, it also improves your hotel operations efficiency, driving up the profitability in your bottom line.

In exemplary hotels, plenty of innovative design solutions can be found not only in the front of house but also in the back of house. You will encounter smart design in physical spaces and objects such as furniture, but also in staff’s equipment and in intangibles such as light fixtures. Hotel owners, developers and managers have the “power” to influence an infinite amount of details to improve hotel operations and, as a result, augment profitability. In the following lines, I will share with you three ways to embrace that power.

#1. Consider operational efficiency early on in your design process

Design functionality can be improved in many areas of a running operation. However, some crucial aspects of functional design must be considered early on during the planning phase.

Take the case of housekeeping: the less time a housekeeper requires to get a guest room spotless clean, the more efficient the whole department is going to be. Take a large hotel and the effect of scale multiplies. Thus, smart interior design should consider the ease of cleaning. Yet, especially in bathrooms, we still find wall finishes such as narrow stone slabs, that make it extremely hard and time consuming for housekeepers to clean. Also, hard water drying in the shower leaves a trace of white chalk on surfaces. The more porous the surface, the harder it is to clean. Smoother and rounder the surfaces would have made it easier for housekeeping to clean efficiently.

Another example with direct impact on the bottom line is textiles. Many hotels feature curtains, bed throws and cushions made of delicate fabrics that require dry cleaning and create soaring costs of washing. If you chose elegant yet washable fabrics, you can have them washed in house or externally at a fraction of the cost.

Once the room is built and furnished, there is little an efficient housekeeper can improve to save time. Once all the textiles are bought, it will be costly to have them all replaced. During the design and procurement phase however, developers have the opportunity to optimize everything from the choice of materials to the shape of built in and loose furnishings. Don’t miss that opportunity.

#2. Make staff satisfaction a primary goal in your design and procurement strategy

We all know: Happy employees will make your clients happy too. We also know: Working conditions in hospitality operations are strenuous by nature. That’s why it is important to invest into equipment that that makes your staff’s life easier. Even small design considerations can have a great impact and will show them that you care.

Take waiters for example: They walk miles every day, carrying a lot of weight throughout their shifts. By reducing the net weight of services trays, you immediately improve their working conditions significantly. Switch from a traditional silver tray to a slick carbon tray and literally take several kilos off their shoulders.

Another example: If you have a large outdoor space in a continental climate, make sure to plan in advance for storage space to store all the terrace cushions during the wet seasons. A terrace for 80 persons will easily require 10m3 of storage. If not planned for, the cushions will end up cramping already scarce back of the house areas.

A smart design of a restaurant and all of its equipment should first be designed for employees, and not only for guests. Naturally, this brings challenges with which most hotel developers are not familiar: How many service stations do you need vs. how many guest tables? Where do you position them to not be in the way but still be within efficient reach? How much cutlery should be stored?  Where do the dinner candles go during lunch time? Many design questions require the insight of an operational expert before operations are even running. Thus, hire an external expert to get important inputs already during your planning phase – or even to have your running operations analyzed.

#3. Improve your guests experience with design that goes beyond aesthetics

Undoubtedly, aesthetic interior design is imperative, but it is by no means everything that makes a great guest experience. There are many factors, that go beyond the eye. Take seating comfort for example: Not all beautiful chairs are equally comfortable. Before ordering a full set of chairs for your restaurant, test-sit the chair in combination with the table to ensure the right distance between the table top and the seating height. Also, choose a table top that is not only beautiful but also long lasting, ergonomic and with a good grip for the client.

Another example: Have you ever been in a restaurant and thought that something didn’t feel right but you couldn’t put a finger on it? Let me tell you: it’s the lighting. Good lighting is a science. Make sure to have a professional lighting designer, who works his magic – for both day and night scenes, if you have a restaurant that operates at lunch and at dinner time.

In summary:

Consider functionality from the beginning of your design process, think of your dear staff and try to provide a guest experience beyond aesthetics. The examples I shared with you are only a few and if you keep putting yourself into other stakeholders’ shoes, the amount of innovative solutions you can come up with are infinite. And if you don’t find the right product on the market, have it made. There are always people that are passionate about developing solutions for you – or finding them with you.

About the author

Claudia Greset-Reich is a hotel procurement expert and Managing Partner at Greset Reich Hospitality Consulting. Together with her husband and partner Yann Greset, they specialize in design and procurement solutions for hotels. Prior to founding Greset Reich Hospitality Consulting, Claudia and Yann have opened and worked on various projects of the Bürgenstock selection.

This article was first published in Hospitality Insights by EHL.

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THE MALDIVES, MAURITIUS, SRI LANKA, WHO IS DOING WHAT TO RESTORE TRAVEL CONFIDENCE ACROSS THE INDIAN OCEAN Comments Off on THE MALDIVES, MAURITIUS, SRI LANKA, WHO IS DOING WHAT TO RESTORE TRAVEL CONFIDENCE ACROSS THE INDIAN OCEAN 391

After the recent round of short interviews with hospitality leaders in the Maldives, Mauritius, and Sri Lanka, these were the key messages that will win customers back. 

MALDIVES – No social distancing, but a rather physical distancing in the Maldives.

One month ago the Maldives reopened the country borders to international travelers and since then, welcomed nearly 4500 tourists mainly from the UK, USA, UAE, Germany, Swiss, and Russia. With strict health and safety standard procedures implemented across the country, starting from the airport to the resort islands, the ‘new travelers’ have already voiced their appreciation for the level of care and hygiene on various social media and forums. But if being welcomed by the resort representatives wrapped in PPE and armed with face shield, gloves, and masks might not feel like the most relaxing start of a much-needed holiday, Afeef Hussain, Regional Director at LUX* Resorts in the Maldives, reassures that guests do love the feeling of safety 

“Being able to arrive at the resort and start enjoying their vacation right away not having to worry about anything, is what our guests want”

Together with high levels of hygiene, another key element to restoring travel confidence is the value of the experience. Afeef Hussain shares that the ‘new travelers’ are not going to spend the same amount of money they used to. Therefore, the value of the vacation is under great scrutiny and determines whether your customer might decide to return to your hotel or to travel somewhere else. 

“There is no such thing of ‘new normal’, but rather a ‘new mindset’”

To ensure that each action taken to uphold the hygiene standards at the resorts is mutually beneficial, Afeef says that whatever is done for the guests, is also done for the team members. This ensures their wellbeing and wellness and translates the Company’s core message of ‘care’ into action.

SRI LANKA – Borders are closed, but our resorts are not.

Sri Lanka has recently delayed the opening of the country borders, but hotels and resorts across the island are back in business with the local market. The execution of health and safety standards at each property has been instrumental to restore a domestic travel confidence, says Arjuna Perera – Sales Manager at Theme Resorts & SPA based in Colombo. To start with, Arjuna Perera and his team produced a video message to show all the procedures and reassure their customer base. 

‘We immediately created a survey, to help understand what are our customers’ priorities at this critical time’ 

But, as we know, the local market demand alone does not cover it. A voucher system propelled by Arjuna’s sales team successfully generated over 1000 room nights. This shows that flexibility is another key factor to encourage travel demand. Flights can be canceled or delayed, quarantine systems are changing by the day. ‘All we need is a bit of flexibility’ says Arjuna ‘and the results are showing us that people are keen to travel, they just want to feel safe’. 

But how do we ensure social distancing in Sri Lanka? For Theme Resorts & Spa, more than distancing, we talk about isolation, but in a good way. The nature experience of some of their properties is guaranteed to the point that to reach some of their glamping sites, you will have to be picked up by the hotel concierge somewhere in the jungle.

MAURITIUS – A contactless experience and smart use of technology.

As Mauritius prepares to reopen borders next month, the health & safety checklist of the destination seems to grow longer.

The use of technology, however, plays a key role in the destination, currently undergoing a digital transformation with a brand new website, a travel platform in the making and a range of digital solutions for tourists. Airline and travel industry expert Youvraj Seeam, based in Mauritius, shares that to pick up on travel confidence, we first have to observe the consumers’ changing behaviors and thereafter understand the new demands.

“For this to be truly successful, we need collaboration with all the stakeholders across the industry”

Youvraj shares that tools like the Travel Recovery Insights Portal of ARC & Boston Consulting, the McKinsey Travel Pulse, or the Traveller Trends Tracker by Adara must be on top of today’s agenda for the modern marketer. This would enable industry leaders to have more visibility and start making progress along the way.

Based on his experience in the airline industry, the key message needs to revolve around hygiene standards and procedures from the moment the traveler checks-in, boards the plane and reaches the destination. Once arrived, says Youvraj, a contactless experience needs to be in place to ensure a safe transit until the guest ultimately reaches the hotel.

 About the author:

Dolores Semeraro is a multilingual professional speaker and trainer, fluent in the Chinese language. She provides strategic direction and training courses to companies and tourism institutions helping them to speak today’s digital language of their audience. Her vision is to create a sustainable digital connection between travel industry stakeholders and their desired customers.

IT’S NOW OR NEVER INDUSTRY GLOBAL RESET BY MARC WILLIAMS Comments Off on IT’S NOW OR NEVER INDUSTRY GLOBAL RESET BY MARC WILLIAMS 475

IT’S NOW OR NEVER, I am only tired, as the song goes and so says mother Earth after years and years of succumbing to the filth that are being spilled into her bosom by the 7 billion of us.

 We are at a crossroad and an eye-opening moment that have to be reckoned with. The changes to the way we live, the way we do business and the way we conduct ourselves in this world will happen whether we like it or not. It will be subtle and forcing us to be the architect of this change – it’s another industrial revolution enabling humans to evolve into a more conscientious being for the benefit of all and mother nature. And it’s worth mentioning here the abrupt change we are witnessing in the hospitality industry. 

Being reliant on large number of human capitals, the hospitality industry has been the most affected by the global pandemic, like no other. Think about it, its an industry that needs an intensive labour force to serve its consumers, it needs the use of fossil fuel to allow its consumers to travel and at the core of the travel industry there is the need for the Oil & Gas producers to power the planes and run the establishment that serves the hospitality industry. So, it’s an industry that at the core, survives and becomes profitable on the demands and supply within the Petroleum Market – for instance, when we see a low cost of crude, the demand rises, consumption rises and tourist travels. On the other hand, as the demand for Petroleum products rises, we see a rise in production which accompanies the rise in crude price. At the same time industrial catering contracts are signed in numbers around the Middle Eastern oil producing countries to support the crude majors, like BP or Total, and their service partners.

Then sometime in March 2020 the world stopped…

As every human activity came to a standstill, the price of crude oil stumbled and crashed as the demands crumbled. Unfortunately, we have made crude oil the center of our existential activities; that businesses linked to its production, whether directly or indirectly, are struggling to keep afloat during this pandemic period. This is a true portrait of our vulnerability as humans who have become too dependent on fossil fuel – the only matter that is damaging our beloved mother Earth.

In light of the new normal as we fashionably call it these days, the only way forward for the hospitality industry, but more certainly for the industrial catering sector, is automation and robotics with a change in attitude within the concept by all stakeholders and consumers. This in turn will reduce the heavy reliance on large manpower thereby improving profitability which has hit the industry since the fall of crude price. Although change is a pill hardly accepted by people entrenched within a certain framework and mindset, and unless changes are actuated, the hospitality industry may lose the precious backing of the investors. 

How can we forge this sudden change then…? One aspect with the labour intensive hospitality industry is to use automation and robotics wherever possible but still remain within the framework of good practice. For instance, within the kitchen we have already started using automation when it comes to the processing of veggies, washing up of cutleries, pots and pans. What we need now would be the autonomous self-cleaning equipment – in the domestic market we already have self-cleaning oven – with a bit of imagination we can have self-cleaning combo oven and cooking plates inserted on a stainless free stove where every debris or liquids drops into an underlying tray from where they are sucked into garbage cannisters. The idea here is to reduce the manpower wherever possible and keep only the chef and a small brigade to assist him in the mass production. 

The other crucial change within the industrial catering facility, most appropriately, would be the implementation of self-service as a general rule of the game. This will limit human contact and adheres to the on-going rule of distancing as applied in the pandemic situation. The onus will then be on the catering team to properly and intelligently prepare the plated layout which is then collected by the consumers. This process will help on portion control amongst other things, which is important in controlling the cost. 

Obviously, the arguments for change and innovation within the hospitality industry is a hot subject at the moment and should be for quite some time. After all we do not know when the pandemic will subside nor when will a real cure be found! However, we have already engaged in a new way of living and a new way of doing business, which in the industrial catering sector it means finding innovative ways to reduce the reliance on large manpower and engaging strategic actions to reduce the cost of doing business in order to be more profitable.

Let’s hope at the end of the day, the right course of action is taken with the interest of all the stakeholders considered and enough investments are made to meet up the challenge of considerable change. 

Marc WILLIAMS