As analysts raise their hotel forecasts to reflect stronger-than-expected performance, all signs point to a long-awaited post-COVID recovery for the hotel industry. Operators are reporting full houses, designers find their drawing boards populated with a slate of ambitious new projects, and investors are loosening their belts and looking for the next big thing to get behind. All in all, the mood is one of invigorating optimism.
However, where this return to regular programming is more than welcome, that’s not to say the last few years have been without consequence. A hospitality sea-change has occurred – the reverberations of which will be felt for decades to come. As such, if the market wishes to move forwards, then designers, developers, operators and hoteliers alike will be required to navigate the waters of innovation; be this the blurred lines of work, play, live and buy or the proliferation of communal digital meta-concepts. This challenge will be monumental, but the rewards will be an evolved hospitality medium that is both resonant and robust.
The theme of HIX 2022 then is ‘great things will grow’ – a reminder that for all the disruption of the roaring 20s so far, the hotel as both a medium and market has demonstrated a remarkable ability to adapt and evolve.
Across a two-day event of talks, installations, exhibitions, social sessions and more, HIX 2022 will bring the hospitality design community together to explore these new movements and celebrate the concepts set to redefine the guest experience. Here’s three of the big issues that will be top of the agenda.
When COVID-19 saw guests unable to visit hotels in-person, the industry was forced to think outside the box and find a new means of generating memorable hospitality experiences beyond four walls. As part of the Great Upload that saw fashion, retail and tech companies alike all enter the metaverse, hotel operators like CitizenM and Leven are now exploring the potential for shared digital environments to open up new streams of engagement and interaction. The sector now finds itself at the bleeding edge of this new experiential realm of technology, but beyond the buzzwords, what will this mean for guests?
The New Metropolis
The form and function of urban space is in flux, as newly remote and nomadic workers eschew the office, and a cost-of-living crisis sees many city-zens reconsider their place in the new metropolis. In this reimagined setting, hotels can reinvent themselves as anchors for entire communities – from multi-functional hybrid spaces that can be transformed at the touch of a button to elements catering specifically for super-short stay guests and those living within 15 minutes. The city hotel is no longer just a base to explore from, but how can designers work to authentically address both local and global demands?
Subscribe & Survive
As the video game and entertainment industries have so lucratively demonstrated, subscription-based services are the future for any business with ambitions of worldwide scale. Monthly or yearly payments to access a service not only guarantees a certain amount of profit during periods of instability, but also encourage more frequent use and consistent engagement. In the lifestyle sector especially, guests are turning away from the impersonal exchange of transactional models in favour of something more personal. And for hotels, this has resulted in a surge of members clubs and global passes that allow access wherever, whenever. As operators push to generate an organic sense of community among disparate guests, what strategies will win the doubters over?
HIX 2022 takes place 17 & 18 November at London’s Business Design Centre.