Continuing the discussion of whether hotel brands are doing enough to stay relevant, let’s take a look at the work being done among some of the heavy hitters of the industry to change the face of the brand, and create a unique experience for guests staying in their accommodations.
At one time, hotel owners and developers designed hotels with conformity in mind. That trend appears to be fading away as guests are now looking for something more than indistinguishable guest rooms seen nearly everywhere. Here is what Best Western’s managing director of design had to say:
“Millennials are looking for something unique. They’re online looking at pictures. They’re looking for something that makes the hotel special. They want to post a picture of it on Facebook and say, ‘Look what I saw,’ at such and such property,” she said. “… We do have design guidelines, but they’re written in a way that allows for flexibility in terms of the aesthetics so hotels can become very regionally appropriate. We want it to make sense to the guest, but we are interested in pushing the envelope.”
Several Best Western properties have already pushed the envelope with regards to design. The Best Western Music Capital Inn in Branson, Missouri, re-purposed a drum set as a light fixture in the lobby. The Best Western Plus Intercourse Village Inn harnessed the regional appeal of being located in Pennsylvania’s Amish Country, and went through a top to bottom renovation that included incorporating a post and beam barn design at the lobby entrance.
This is all part of Best Western’s “Design Excellence” initiative, a program through which members of the chain’s design staff are visiting each Best Western hotel in North America in hopes of helping the owners devise a customized property-improvement-plan that must be complete within three years. Currently, the program is in its second of five years, and 40% of PIPs are underway.
Mitch Patel, president and CEO of Vision Hospitality Group, believes that adding unique design elements not only creates a custom hotel that tells a story, but also can yield a greater return on investment, something hoteliers are always looking for.
Patel’s company worked with Marriott International’s Gen 4 prototype designer OPX, a Washington D.C.-based architectural and interior design firm, to further customize the company’s Marriott-branded hotels.