The most essential service a hotel provides is a restful night, making it the most essential aspect of good hotel design. Juan Julia, owner of Axel Hotel Group, has cultivated a strong international brand around the basic concept of guest comfort, inclusiveness and a restful night.
The most essential service a hotel provides is a restful night, making it the most essential aspect of good hotel design. Juan Julia, owner of Axel Hotel Group, has cultivated a strong international brand around the basic concept of guest comfort, inclusiveness and a restful night. He speaks at length about his principles in a 2012 book, Universal Design.
To be fair, many new style and boutique hotels have got “big picture” design down right: enchanting, energetic lobbies and great locations, but in some cases they can stumble at the level of guest comfort. Common complaints found online include indifferent or busy staff, inconvenient check in and out, awkward bathrooms, booking snafus and often most importantly, uncomfortable beds and thin walls. Many inconveniences can be avoided from the first days of designing the hotel, but others need to be adjusted through attentive service, staff training and embracing communications technologies available to, and likely already in the pockets of, guests.
Guests can be easy to attract, more difficult to retain
First-time guests will often be attracted to your space based on price and location, the standard conveniences you will have already promoted on your website and OTA listings, but we already know that first-time guests who report ambivalent or negative stay experiences are one-time guests, and on-time guests are unlikely to recommend to a friend.
This is not just a challenge for discount hotels; the common complaints listed above cut across all price ranges. And just to reinforce the importance guests place on comfort, the most common compliments on Trip Advisor are convenience, cleanliness, comfortable rooms and friendly, attentive staff.
Placing comfort at the center of design
Guest comfort is more than just hot water and a cozy room; it is an ethos governing the entire guest experience, from booking a room through every step of the stay until the guest leaves. According to a 2010 study on emotional design for hotel stay experiences, frequent hotel users expressed that important aspects of comfort include, but are not limited to:
- Comfortable beds and linens
- Quiet, well organized rooms
- Security (a feeling of security as well as actual security features)
- Quality hygiene products
- Bathrooms with shelf or cabinet space
- Easy, convenient check in and out
- Friendly, reactive staff
- A personal touch
- Staff who can and will remember returning guests
These may seem like easily solved dilemmas but in fact, many of the points above require both systemic approaches and personalized ones.
So how do you determine the best processes to implement a holistic sense of comfort?
Here are some suggestions:
- Analyse guest stay occasions to determine their needs
- Start designing from the bed as the centre of the stay experience and move out to the room
- Room and entertainment controls you implement should be easy to use
- A bathroom shelf
- Quiet hallways
- Efficient, well designed (easy to read) confirmation emails
- Ensure you staff is trained to be immediately available to guests
- Consider implementing text and app support to keep track of guests needs and provide immediate service
- Streamline check in and out procedures with a hotel app or email confirmation
- Clear pricing
The above points are only solutions to common sources of guest consternation, when you adopt the ethos of comfort as number one, you will surely find other ways to create a unique and relaxing stay experience across all guest segments.
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Adam Gandy was born and raised in North America but now lives and works in Europe. A technical writer, artist and writer for Arts publications and Galleries, he has spent the past eight years working and traveling in the Arts and Cultural sector.