What’s so special about your favourite café? Have you ever really thought about it? Sure, there are basic reasons that keep you coming back: The coffee is fresh, the pastry is good and the chairs are comfortable. Perhaps the location is convenient.
Staff is another big reason. A smiling, familiar face is nice to see when you come through the door. When it comes to the hospitality business, the value of attentive staff can hardly be overstated.
But is it really the best coffee out there, or the most amazing pastry, or the most comfortable seating? Isn’t there another place a few blocks closer, one with its own set of friendly faces?
Chances are, one of your reasons for sticking to your favourite café is the look and feel of the place. The atmosphere is fresh, welcoming, inspired. There are touches of personality which—in addition to basics like coffee and chairs—make the place unique.
Recently I stayed (yes, I paid!) at the QT Sydney and asked myself—why should it be any different for accommodation providers, such as hotels and resorts? All things being equal, most of us would choose a place with more personality. And yet, so many properties use the same bland designs and furnishings. The bath, the bed, the tables and chairs—everything is serviceable, inoffensive and ordinary.
1. Why personality matters
The QT made an impression on me because it has a distinct personality. Converted from sections of the historic Gowings and State theatre buildings in Sydney’s CBD, it blends the distinctive atmosphere of the original structure with a quirky overlay all its own. Design elements include Gothic, Art Deco and Italian. The lounge areas are vibrant and interesting and the ground floor bar even had a pop-up speakeasy, complete with sing-alongs whilst I was there!. I noticed many unique flourishes in the rooms as well, such as transparent mini-bars (you don’t have to open it to see what’s inside!), Japanese bathtubs, and even unique fittings around the security eyeholes. Nothing about the place felt boring or customary—and yet, the basic amenities were sturdy and sound. I slept well, ate well, and felt looked-after by friendly and helpful staff.
2. The key players get it
I’m certainly not the only person in the hospitality industry who is paying more attention to these things. Several major hotel groups (Marriott, Hilton, Virgin) are launching brands geared toward hip, trendy, IT-savvy travellers. They’re called things like Moxy, Edition, Canopy. They exchange traditional stuffy furniture for eclectic modern fare, provide ample communal spaces for work, and ensure that wifi connectivity surpasses expectations. In short, they take monotony out of the equation and give travelers more of what they really want, all while maintaining traditional standards of service.
It’s often said that our industry is slow to change. Maybe so—but change it must. Anyone designing hotels or serviced apartments should know what the competition is doing, and where things are headed five or ten years from now. New properties need a distinct personality in order to compete—or else they need to do the basics exceptionally well. Either way, owners and investors should pay close attention to questions of design and personality, lest the property become just another drab face in the crowd.
3. How is this accomplished?
By working with the right architect. The right engineer. The right industry expert whose knowledge and foresight can guide the property toward success.
Your property doesn’t have to occupy two historic buildings in a thriving downtown district. Nor does it have to be sculpted from ice, have underwater rooms, or consist of glass cubes hanging down from the trees. Such feats would place you among the world’s most unusual hotel properties—but finding a unique personality is a fair bit easier to achieve. With the right advice and guidance, your property can be shaped into a unique space that truly makes people want to come back—much like that favourite coffee spot.
For further industry insight, please follow the links below.