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From Global to Mobile

The rise of international travel and the arrival of the smartphone are driving new trends in hospitality design; here’s how you can keep up

03/27/2013 By Barbara Marini, FASID, IDEC

Today’s fast-paced, global market demands much of travelers, as work/life balance often hinges on a satisfying experience. Whether traveling for business or pleasure, a consumer’s perception of the experience can run the gamut from exciting and exhilarating to agonizing and downright exhausting. And while it can be invigorating to experience different places and cultures, it also can be uniquely challenging for travelers, making the design of hospitality environments all the more important.

This fact hasn’t been missed by the booming hospitality industry, which is being influenced to a large extent by international business, global trends, technology and cross-cultural indicators. Positioning in this industry is largely based upon satisfying experiences and initiatives that build brand loyalty. These are issues that force designers to think beyond our own expectations, as spaces and facilities now need to be designed for people from all cultural, social and global backgrounds.

The specialized knowledge base and talent required for the design of hospitality spaces incorporates a sophisticated view of the world and an understanding of culture without boundaries. Interior designers are inherently attuned to the abstract thinking and problem-solving that this requires, and play an essential role in the design of hospitality spaces, through the understanding of human scale and relationships, social interactions, lighting, acoustics and materiality. Working in this specialized area also requires an understanding of the impact of the global economy, shifts in consumer preferences, travel experiences and how technology impacts nearly every aspect of the built environment.

Becoming an expert in all of those areas may seem daunting, but in today’s global economy, competition is fierce (for both design work and overnight guests) and any edge you can achieve is a valuable one.

Hotel brands in particular understand this, and foster loyalty with various types of experiences designed to elevate their customers’ engagement with the brand. Luxury and boutique hotels provide unique experiences and incorporate opportunities for personal enrichment that range from yoga, cooking classes and aromatherapy, to specialized (and exclusive!) spa functions, handmade soaps and local food delicacies.

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