Presented By: Hotel Executive, September 16, 2018

Author: Felicia Hyde, Design Director, Lifestyle Studio, H. Hendy Associates

Tourism and travel now accounts for more than one-tenth of the global GDP according to Deloitte’s 2018 Travel and Hospitality Industry Outlook, with hotel industry growth projected at five to six percent this year. As a result, new trends are emerging, and consumer expectations are evolving, thereby driving hoteliers to adjust their design strategies to keep up with demand.

A trend that’s shaking up the hospitality industry today is modern travelers’ desire for memorable experiences through unique design elements, adaptable spaces and customized experiences – a concept that is already transforming residential and multifamily communities nationwide. Now, hoteliers must apply similar design strategies to separate themselves from their competition in an effort to attract more travelers.

First Impressions Count
When it comes to leasing apartments, making a great first impression is everything. Research indicates that when residents and guests enter a property, amenities are not likely the first thing they notice. Rather, it’s the design. The guest experience starts even before they enter the door – and carries through from the parking lot to the leasing office to even the restroom.

Essentially, it’s all about the details and the experience that the look and feel of the property evokes. The first impression is crucial for potential residents: it’s what gives them a glimpse of the living experience a community could provide. The concept of providing guests with a memorable first impression not only applies to multifamily but is directly translatable to the hospitality industry, and it’s a concept hoteliers should consider to attract more travelers. Here are some first impression design strategies used in multifamily properties that hoteliers can leverage:

1. Set the Stage
In the multifamily world, the initial experience for prospective residents begins the moment they approach the property. This means that anything guests see, and experience, should be designed to create instant attraction or drama. This includes the architecture, landscaping, set up of the parking lot and even the signage directing visitors to the leasing office. For example, we worked on a multifamily project where the marketing team designed and implemented catchy phrases in the visitor parking stalls and throughout the property leading guests to the leasing office – ultimately creating an inviting first impression for prospective residents. For hoteliers, consider adding an unexpected twist to set your property apart.

2. Create Surprises
While you want to entice your guests from the moment they step onto your property, consider including an element of surprise – a design feature, amenity or experience that’s unexpected. For example, Broadstone Candara at Hancock Park, an apartment complex designed by the interior architecture team at H. Hendy Associates, offers residents and guests a surprising and contrasting experience from the exterior to the interior. On the outside, the property features traditional Spanish Moorish architecture, which juxtaposes the interior of the lobby which boasts majestic, bold and modern design elements such as theatrical floor-to-ceiling drapes, oversized tiling and furniture, and a custom six-foot painting of Frida Kahlo that elicits emotion and transports guests to a whole new experience.

3. Appeal to the Senses
An essential part of creating a memorable experience for residents or hotel guests is appealing to consumers’ senses – from the moment they enter the property. Research shows that the use of multiple sensory experiences creates powerful memories. For hoteliers, this serves as an opportunity to build an instant connection with travelers and create a memorable and unique experience that will leave them wanting more. Some examples include music in the lobby, greeting guests with refreshments and hors d’oeuvres, signature scents and unique textures, indicative pieces and other design elements that personalize the experience.

Customize the Experience
According to a recent study by Nielsen, millennials travel more than any other generation and are on a search for “the right experience.” With this said, hoteliers need to adjust their design strategy and approach to meet the needs and desires of this growing demographic. Millennials, more than their counterparts, put more weight on personalized experiences and as Nielsen found, for many, those experiences are happening away from their home. For hoteliers, this means that modern consumers are looking for more than cookie-cutter experiences and accommodation, but rather, hotels that are designed to complement their lifestyles, meet their needs and offer customized experiences.

For example, when designing The Hesby, an apartment complex in North Hollywood, H. Hendy Associates designed the property to complement the lifestyle of an eclectic and artistic demographic comprised of entertainment professionals. The team implemented unique design elements tailored to this group, including song lyrics embedded into the bathroom sinks and famous quotes decorating the walls of the community spaces. Small details that matter. When spaces are designed to match the personality and lifestyle of the local market, this creates a tailored experience for guests which ultimately drives consumers’ decision to choose your property or hotel over another.

Implement Co-working Spaces
Research shows that today’s consumers prefer adaptable community spaces that serve multiple purposes. An example is co-working spaces, which serves nearly half of working Americans today who spend at least some time in their day working remotely. With the lines between office and home spaces continuing to blur, multifamily properties nationwide are integrating co-working spaces onsite to serve the needs of our growing virtual workforce.

Another trend on the rise with millennials is mixing business with pleasure. In fact, 69 percent of millennials want flexible work schedules in which they can work at any time and from anywhere. They also prefer jobs that give them the option to make flexible work and travel arrangements. With this said, implementing co-working spaces can help hoteliers attract more millennial and business travelers who are looking to turn their next business trip into an extended getaway. Design elements and concepts that hoteliers should consider when creating effective co-working spaces include:

1. A Cross Pollination of Workspaces
To design an effective co-working space, it’s important to understand that these spaces are a hub for collaboration, inspiration and community, and are meant to serve people of varying professions. This means that there should be a variety of workspaces to support how different people prefer to work and their intentions for using the space, whether they are there to make new friends, find a business partner or have a meeting. Consider including different options of large-scale work spaces with casual seating, like soft seating areas and high-top tables with barstools. Also include a section with farmhouse style tables to invite people to come together and exchange ideas. For those who prefer to work alone, include individual work stations such as booths or partitioned areas that allow for more privacy. Don’t forget conference and meeting rooms too, for private events or video conferences.

2. Amenities
What makes co-working spaces attractive is that they break your typical corporate office design of cubicles and assigned seating. Rather, they are designed to foster creativity by fusing fun and unique design elements and amenities in a casual setting. Consider including a variety of lounge areas in which people can move seamlessly from a professional meeting to casual conversation. Encourage guests to use the space for networking by including amenities such as beer on tap, a coffee bar, and a game room that fosters connection and idea sharing over a cup of coffee or game of foosball.

3. Indoor-Outdoor Spaces
When designing co-working spaces for multifamily properties, we work closely with landscape architects to include features such as garage doors and folding doors to allow people to transition seamlessly between the indoors to outdoors. People have an innate connection to nature and to be more productive while working, people need changes in air, temperature and scenery. To meet this need, consider including natural elements indoor such as plants, wall gardens and natural lighting. Alternatively, consider creating outdoor co-working spaces for guests near a pool deck, garden or on a patio.

4. Integrate Technology
An essential part of designing an effective co-working space is outfitting users with the technology to support how they want to work. Make sure these spaces incorporate ample outlets for users to charge laptops and mobile devices. Other technologies to consider include Apple TVs, HDMI cables and large screen monitors. For added convenience, consider offering services for booking conference rooms and digital payment systems for easy check out.

Something new that we’re starting to see in multifamily, and specifically with developers that have properties across the United States, is the opportunity for residents to reserve a spot in a co-working space of an affiliated property. This amenity benefits residents who travel often and are in search of a collaborative and inspiring place to work, study or access Wi-Fi and other no-cost resources. This is a strategy that hotel chains may want to consider as an amenity for their guests to attract more travelers to their different locations. Consider transforming those static business centers currently offered to hotel guests into modern co-working spaces that allow guests to travel from one property to another with instant access to the space, networking opportunities and local resources.

Know Your Audience
The key to creating spaces and experiences that are memorable is understanding what your key demographic is looking for in their apartment community or hotel accommodation. This can vary based on location, generational group, and myriad factors so it’s important to do your research to unearth all that you can about your target consumer. These insights should inform your overarching design strategy and inspire the amenities and spaces you need to create to cater to their needs and desires. Whatever you can do to make your space more unique, adaptable and tailored to complement the lifestyle of your audience, then the more memorable your space will be.