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.
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.
A key aspect of maintaining a healthy lifestyle is being mindful of what you eat. That said, choosing organic food products can go a long way towards giving your body the essential vitamins that it needs to stay in top shape. Indeed, organic food products have become popular over the recent years due to the perception that they’re generally safer to consume for most customers. Specifically, organic produce is said to contain no harmful chemicals or pesticides, while organic meat is advertised as containing no synthetic growth hormones.
If you want to start incorporating more organic food into your diet, you should learn more about how they can keep you healthy. To help you understand more about organic food products, here are some interesting things you need to know:
- Organic food products are not made equal. If you plan to shop everything organic, it pays to know that there are three types of organic food products. If the product label says it’s “completely organic,” it means that it is 100% truly organic and guaranteed to be chemical-free. However, if the product label only says it’s “organic,” the food may only be 90-95% organic since some conventional methods may have been applied during the growing and processing of the product. And lastly, some product labels will simply indicate “contains organic ingredients.” This means that there were some non-organic ingredients used in the manufacturing of the product.
- They’re generally healthier, but not all the time. Organically-produced fruits and vegetables contain higher amounts of vitamins, minerals, as well as antioxidants. Meanwhile, organically-raised animals have leaner meat, which is better for our cardiovascular health. However, it’s best to note that some non-organic food products may be more nutritious than organic ones—especially if they’ve been fortified. Fortified foods are those that have been imbued with nutrients that can’t be found in their organic counterparts. For example, fortified milk products are more nutritious than organically-produced milk since they contain higher levels of vitamin D.
- Organic farming helps save the environment. Organic farming is considered to be more environment-friendly than conventional farming. This is because it helps reduce air, water, and soil contamination due to the lack of chemicals and pesticides used. By staying chemical-free, organic food production also helps maintain biodiversity and preserve the local wildlife. Furthermore, it helps prevent global warming since most organic food products are only sold locally. This is because the reduced need for long-distance transportation translates to lower carbon dioxide emissions.
- Organic food products taste better and fresher. Some people are put off by the belief that organic food products have a blander taste. But since they are made without any chemicals and preservatives, they can actually taste better and fresher. Also, the organic way of producing fruits, vegetables, and crops allows them to contain higher levels of antioxidants, which are believed to help maintain the natural taste of these products.
- Know the dirty dozen and clean fifteen. If you can’t afford to always buy organic food products, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) has released a shopper’s guide known as the “dirty dozen and clean fifteen.” In the dirty dozen list, it contains the list of fruits and vegetables that you need to buy organically since non-organic ones increase your risk of consuming too much chemicals and pesticides. Among the produce that made it to the dirty dozen list are strawberries, spinach, kale, nectarines, apples, grapes, peaches, cherries, pears, tomatoes, celery, and potatoes. Meanwhile, the clean fifteen list refers to the list of fruits and vegetables that are safe to buy non-organically. This includes avocados, sweet corn, pineapples, frozen sweet peas, onions, papayas, eggplants, asparagus, kiwis, cabbages, cauliflower, cantaloupes, broccoli, mushrooms, and honeydew melons. If you afford to go purely organic, then these are the types of produce that you can consume while still making sure that you’re maintaining a healthier diet.
While organic food products are better for your health, they can be quite expensive since their production requires greater labour input. Without the help of chemicals, produce such as fruits, vegetables, crops, as well as the animals themselves grow more naturally and slowly. This can make them more difficult to grow or raise in general. As a result, organic food products usually cost 30-40% more than non-organic food. So if you want to eat organically, be smart with your shopping choices to keep costs down. One way to help make this happen is to always buy organic produce when they are in season.