Hotel Lobbies Take Center Stage
By Marsha Diamond
According to lodging industry surveys, one in five guests say the reason they choose to come back to the same hotel is the opportunity “to experience and to be engaged.” Typically the guest’s initial impression of the hotel is its lobby. So what are hotels doing to make that lobby experience a more positive and engaging one?
In some cases, it’s a combination of design and technology. Big front desks are increasingly being replaced with sit-down concierge desks, where guests can sip on coffee or wine while staff process check ins with iPads. Other hotels are installing pod-like stations, allowing for increased engagement and improved customer service between hotel employees and guests. Further, some reception areas are functioning with a single desk or kiosk, encouraging guests to check-in in advance of arrival on their phones, emphasizing convenience and ease.
Reducing the registration footprint allows the lobby to transition to a center for new activities that impact the guest experience. Where historically cafes, restaurants, or bars were connected to lobbies, the current all-in-one trend combines registration, restaurants and lounges in one large, open space.
Others are thinking beyond those f&b mainstays, incorporating specialized bookstores, galleries, and libraries into their lobbies. Hotels are also engaging community resources, utilizing locally made products or food, to create daily culinary events, thereby shifting the focus to localized experiences.
As the formal lobby transitions to a multi-function space, it changes the lobby’s ff&e, os&e, technology, and sales and marketing requirements. Among the considerations:
Light, modular furniture pieces (fully loaded with charging outlets), writable walls, and communal tables that may be easily transitioned into a casual conference area;
Sustainable components (e.g., hydroponic herb garden and plants, living walls), complemented with effective lighting, wall color and art, which not only provide a sense of experience to guests, but also lend a restorative effect that contributes to the productivity of the guest and hotel staff;
Upgraded retail marketplaces (Grab & Go) incorporating beverage services stations for hot and cold drinks, which can help hotels further tap into the on-demand/convenience economies;
Multi-channel digital products, which energize the lobby and communal spaces with sound and video. Custom LED lobby displays can visually inspire and transform spaces, and reinforce the hotel’s brand message;
Marketing to beyond the hotel guest. The lobby space transition opens the lobby as a destination not just for out of towners, but to members of the local community. Social media is a great tool to assist with this effort.
Whether by incorporating design elements or by creating a seamless space that provides seating, dining and drinking options, today’s hotel lobby can positively impact the guest experience and generate new revenue opportunities for hotel owners and operators.