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The other day we attended the seminar "The Future of Hotel Design" at HOFEX in Hong Kong. Three speakers in architecture and interior design spoke, mostly about their own projects and past ones, than actually predicting what the hotel industry will look like in 2020, or in the future at all. All but one.

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We are not sure if it is a fear to be wrong, or that they actually don't know themselves, but there was surprisingly little content in the speeches about how the future actually will look at the seminar at HOFEX in Hong Kong on May 9th. Sure, the representative from M Co did mention their eco resorts in Sri Lanka at the end, where they try to involve not only local NGO's but government, and making it sustainable at the same time. And while that is certainly admirable, it is in no way a new concept, or something that will reshape the future, we think? And we are wondering if they are doing it more for the tax breaks they apparently enjoy, and the potential to earn government and other philanthropist projects in the future?

 

Airbnb has totally changed the hospitality industry - Adrian Battisby, LW design group

 

The Atelier B representative didn't either really predict the future of hotel design. In his own words, the events in the past year, with all from Brexit to the Trump election, shows that no one really can predict the future, but at least he identified four different groups of travellers for the future. They are listed below. I guess the idea is that if you know which the groups are, you know how to design for them as well.

  1. For the first group the Guest Experience is the most important aspect. This will mean more lobbies high up in the sky for example, and for this group technology is important.
  2. The Second group is more driven by Efficiency. Minimalistic design. This could also involve capsule hotels etc.
  3. The Third group is the traveller drawn to the Themed Hotel. Here he took the QT Sydney is an example (read about our stay there here). This hotel is designed to create a whole themed experience, all from the wigged door staff, to the elevator music. Here he also mentions Banksy hotel "The Walled Off Hotel" in Jerusalem, which overlooks the wall that separates Palestine and Israel. This is a one of a kind experience, and impossible to replicate anywhere else in the world.
  4. And finally the Fourth group is the Classic, nostalgic one who likes heritage hotels. What is important here is excellent customer service and tech is less prevalent and absolutely less visible.

 

Capsule Hotels and Tree Houses - the future. Image Courtesy LW design group

Capsule Hotels and Tree Houses - the future. Image Courtesy LW design group

 

The designer who really went out there to tell us what will be the future of hotel design however was Adrian Battisby from LW design group, a firm of multi-disciplined designers in architecture, engineering and interior design. With headquarters in Dubai and offices in Hong Kong, Sao Paolo and London, and over 130 high profile clients these guys should know what they are talking about too.. We have visited their offices and seen some of their work and it is often truly outstanding. And Adrian did not disappoint.

Adrian started by saying that Airbnb totally has changed the hospitality industry. The whole geology of travel is changing, and it is an unprecedented change. You travel to have a rest, to remove the friction of your everyday life. But he poses the question, by staying in an Airbnb - how does that work? You get colour from someone else's life, he explains. It is much like a homestay. 

Therefore, the best hotels out there give you a truly local experience, but with room service, he adds.

 

Comfort is the new refinement. Lifestyle brands are the future

 

You have to define your audience, Adrian says: Are your guests Global nomads. Simply Guests. Explorers. Tourists. What is your customer? What are they here for?

Adrian believes we will be going back to simplicity in design and authenticity in materials. But in doing so, we will redefine them. Some of the design from the 1950's still seems relevant today. But with a twist. In the future we will want to enjoy life simplest pleasures, and as an example he takes Ilse Crawford's quotes, talking about the new Cathay Pacific lounge at Hong Kong airport:

Quote by Ilse Crawford, about the new Cathay Pacific lounge The Pier. Image Courtesy LW design group

Quote by Ilse Crawford, about the new Cathay Pacific lounge The Pier. Image Courtesy LW design group

 

In terms of colour Adrian says we will see muted ones. Soft; dusty, desaturated colours. Matt, less flashy, even when it comes to metal. With materials we will see softer curves and more natural materials as leather and matt stone, but also some enamel and plastic mixed in for good measure and a modern take. Anything goes?

Technology will disappear, Adrian says. But only in the sense that it will be with us but we won't see it. We will be seamlessly connected but not reminded of it. It will just be there. And it will work [editors note].

The future. Image Courtesy LW design group

The future. Image Courtesy LW design group

 

Adrian believes we will see more of lifestyle hotels, where the lobby, room and F&B are together or at least integrated with each other. More social spaces, creating a community in the shared spaces, and connecting single travellers. Shared workspaces.
Rooms are more evolved, eclectic, designed. Or capsule hotels. Bunk bed rooms are coming. These types of hotels not only maximise space and efficiency per sqm, they are attracting a different demographic of traveller. The family who wants to stay together, or the stag do, backpackers on a low budget etc. As there will be SO many more travellers in the future, there will be a need for new types of hotels to suit all their different tastes; different hotels catering to different tastes. And all tastes will indeed be catered for.

 

Integrated social spaces, mobile hotel keys. Shared workspaces. Image Courtesy LW design group

Integrated social spaces, mobile hotel keys. Shared workspaces. Image Courtesy LW design group

 

Another thing we will see more of, and here he agrees with Atelier B, there will be more Experience Hotels, and he takes tree houses as an example.

We will also put more value on organic materials as well as soaps and shampoos offered in the rooms. We will want more authenticity. But is it real or does it only look real? We don't know. And maybe it doesn't matter, as long as it feels authentic? Another big shift is that the concierge will disappear completely. Instead hotels will work with a series of local outlets to curate an experience, a map, a shopping guide, a list of the best restaurants. In their opinion.

His final remark? "Lifestyle brands are the future"

They just want to make us feeeeel gooood. Image Courtesy LW design group

They just want to make us feeeeel gooood. Image Courtesy LW design group

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