Market changes that will alter Hotel Design
Cornell University School of Hotel Administration
Saturday, 10th November 2007
Changes in the hotel market will require new design ideas from the inside out and from outside in- according to participants in the 2007 Cornell Hospitality Design Roundtable, held in October at the Cornell University School of Hotel Administration.

Hotel designers will see inside-out changes as a result of demand from new generations of business travelers, while the outside-in changes are driven by efforts to improve hotel buildings' energy efficiency and environmental standing. Along the way, an ever-shifting approach to branding hotels will make for additional design challenges.

Chaired by Richard Penner, a professor at the hotel school, the 2007 Hospitality Design Roundtable is part of a series of Roundtables presented by Cornell's Center for Hospitality Research.

While still attending to the needs of fifty-something business travelers, hotels have turned to address changes in the market caused by increasing numbers of twenty-, thirty-, and forty-year-old travelers. The result, according to participants in the Roundtable on "Designing for Demographic Change" is that designers must appeal to a broad range of ages.

Panel participant Saverio Scheri, managing director for WhiteSand Consulting, pointed out the challenge: "We have to evolve the experience to match the expectations of each age groupóand those expectations are high."

Although young travelers are not especially brand loyal, that is not the greatest challenge they pose. The problem for designers is that if they are unhappy with their stay, they'll just move on to the next brandówithout saying why.

Designing hotels for environmentally sound operation creates a different set of challenges, as examined by the Roundtable session on Green Hotels. Most environmental standards begin with the building envelope (for example, LEED, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design).

This means that the decision to seek environmental certification must be made early in the project. Complicating this decision is the absence of LEED standards for hotels and the question about whether guests would pay a premium for LEED certified rooms.

In the midst of these demographic and environmental changes, hotels are also attempting to redefine the role and value of brands. Some brands are attempting to create design concepts that cannot be readily copied, while others are taking well-known names and extending them to new developments.

More than 30 new brands had been announced in the months prior to the Roundtable, inviting confusion, according to Roundtable participant Raj Chandnani. Chandnani, director of strategic planning and consulting, WATG, observed: "We're all in the industry and we're confused-imagine what the customer thinks!"

Part of the confusion may arise from the convergence of design among several major brands, according to Debbie Mace, director of interior architecture, 4240 Architecture, in Denver. "There are probably only a handful of brands that can be readily distinguished by look," she said.

About the Center for Hospitality Research
A unit of the Cornell School of Hotel Administration, The Center for Hospitality Research (CHR) sponsors research designed to improve practices in the hospitality industry. Under the lead of the Center's 57 corporate affiliates, experienced scholars work closely with business executives to discover new insights into strategic, managerial and operating practices. The center also publishes the award-winning hospitality journal, the Cornell Hotel and Restaurant Administration Quarterly. To learn more about the center and its projects, visit www.chr.cornell.edu

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