Good Design Makes Spaces Work Harder to Drive Revenue

by Jeff Higley

Bells and whistles are fine, but it’s the core of a hotel that remains its most valuable design asset, according to speakers at last month’s International Society of Hospitality Consultants annual conference.

The greatest part of that core is space—a concept that can be turned into revenue, speakers said.

“How do you take those very large spaces and make them work harder in today’s world?” asked Michael Issenberg, CEO, HotelServices Asia-Pacific, for AccorHotels, during the “Bird’s eye view” session.

That question was a driving force behind AccorHotels' July announcement that it was forming a 50/50 joint venture with Bouygues Immobilier to accelerate that company’s expansion of its Nextdoor coworking concept throughout Europe, Issenberg said. AccorHotels will utilize its physical assets and its distribution channels to help develop a new customer base for Nextdoor and drive growth.

“Hotels, as we know, are built to last for 50, 60, 70, 100 years, but what was built 20 years ago isn’t necessarily relevant today,” Issenberg said. “That’s why we think this co-working is a great opportunity.

“We have these hotels that have lots of space—if one of the rooms in this hotel is better off being used for co-working than it is for conferencing … whatever is going to work the asset harder,” he added. “We believe there’s a great opportunity to do that.”

Speakers participating in the “Obstructed view: Disruption driving great designs” panel discussion agreed that the time to better utilize existing space is now. The trend of turning lobbies into living-room atmospheres has been fueled by that concept.

“I like what Michael said about making assets work harder,” said architect Stephen O’Dell, director of SODA (Thailand) Limited. “Trying to create those experiences in those urban hotels is quite challenging. … The lobby is no longer the lobby; it’s really the social hub. It’s making that asset work harder.”

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