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By Shannon Kim, Vice President, Hospitality

February 7, 2024

In January, the Global Hospitality Talk unfolded at the Maybourn Beverly Hills in Los Angeles, bringing together industry leaders, influencers, and visionaries. Among the standout sessions, Glenn Haussman, the renowned Hospitality Podcaster and Influencer behind "No Vacancy Live," offered a compelling take on the current state of the hospitality market, focusing on the theme of "change" post-COVID. Haussman's session left an indelible mark, emphasizing the following key takeaways and pressing issues impacting hotel design: 

1. Embracing Innovation for Future Profitability:

In a time of profound societal reorganization, Glenn emphasized the importance of trusting instincts, continuous education, and understanding guest motivations. The era of "Big Change" demands a commitment to innovation for sustained profitability. 

2. Emotional Connections in Service and Design:

As technology advances, establishing emotional connections with guests becomes paramount. Glenn stressed the challenge of contemplating how individuals will utilize and experience space, highlighting the need for improvements to bridge existing disconnects. Design should be centered around how guests envision using and experiencing the space. 

3. Seizing Opportunities in Workplace Changes:

The significant shifts in the workplace, such as remote work and the blending of business and pleasure, create opportunities to rethink hotel functions. Haussman urged the designers to enhance traveler experiences by offering flexible and accommodating spaces for work. 

4. Sustainability Integrated into Ethos:

Sustainability, according to Glenn, should be integrated into a brand's ethos and translated into design. Thoughtful implementation of sustainable practices aligned with the brand's message emerges as a powerful strategy to reduce waste. 

5. Optimism Amidst Real-Estate Transactions Decline:

Despite a 60% drop in hotel real-estate transactions from a year ago, Glenn expressed optimism, anticipating a gradual increase in transaction volumes throughout the year. 

6. Conversion Projects and New Construction Trends:

Highlighting a surge in conversion projects and over 6000 new construction projects in the United States in the pipeline, Haussman predicted a shift towards conversion projects in the next few years. Brands are offering owners a chance to redefine their hotel offerings with new brands to capture evolving market demands.  

7. New Hotel Brand Launch:  

Glenn shared insights into Project HQ, a new hotel brand targeting Gen Z with a lower rate of $250 per night. Integrating transient travel, extended stays and residences, it emphasizes amenities and restaurants that cater to the younger generation. Most of these developments are renovations of existing buildings in order to avoid expensive ground-up construction costs. 

8. Extended Stay is Here to Stay:

Developers, according to Haussman, favour extended stays due to labor challenges in the hospitality industry. Extended stays require less management overall with a fraction of turnover and a lower overall guest expectations. Developers aim to integrate new technologies to further reduce labour costs in this category. He predicts luxury extended stays are on the rise. 

9. Rise of Alternative Lodging:

Glenn hinted at the rise of alternative lodging, focusing on outdoor elements, and incorporating biophilic design. A new brand in this category is expected to launch soon. 

10. Technology's Role in Customer Service:

Haussman emphasized the seamless integration of AI and technology in hotel design to enhance the customer journey. The industry faces a shortage of experienced professionals due to COVID, prompting a wave of creative endeavors. 
Glenn Haussman's insights bring attention to the critical realities within hotel design, resonating with the shared experiences of industry professionals. As hospitality designers, Haussman's recommended improvements guide us in prioritizing the fundamentals, establishing a solid foundation for an outstanding guest experience. 

The suggested improvements cover various aspects, including hotel guestroom lighting, device outlets, faucet length, elevator panel placement, attention to detail, technology integration, and designing for evolving guest needs. These elements collectively contribute to creating memorable experiences rather than just spaces. 

In the dynamic realm of hospitality, Haussman's focus on guest experience underscores the substantial opportunities for innovation. This reminds us to not overshadow the essentials while pursuing groundbreaking design concepts. Striking a balance between innovation and meeting fundamental guest needs is key to achieving excellence in hospitality design. 

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