True story: A couple in their 60s found a room in an upscale hotel operating under an internationally recognized brand. As usual, the husband tried to set up his laptop on the desk. He searched for the outlet he was used to finding in the lamp base but found a USB port instead.
His power cord wasn’t equipped for USB, so he looked for another outlet. In the end, he had to crawl under the desk to find a place to plug in.
The point here is not that hotels shouldn’t offer plenty of easily accessible USB charging ports -- it’s that guests shouldn’t have to don their miner’s light and spelunker’s gear to find an old-fashioned outlet.
The design of the hotel’s furniture, fixtures and equipment (FF&E) should take care of such problems and, in the long term, represent the best investment.
FF&E Trends Aren’t Necessarily “Trendy”
It’s illuminating that one of the trends in hotel design is the “home away from home.” This seems almost self-contradictory, but it makes perfect sense. That man searching for an outlet would likely not have experienced such frustration at home. A USB port without any regular outlets would seem foreign even to people much younger than he.
But home away from home goes far beyond an easy way to charge devices. It has to do not only with convenience but also a feeling of warmth and comfort.
Most people’s homes are not dominated by hard surfaces and overwhelming colors. They tend to be textured like most living rooms rather than sterile like an operating room or glaringly colorful.
That brings us to the difference between investing in “trends” versus investing in “trendy.” Genuine hotel interior design trends are made to last, transcend multiple generations, and delight guests for years to come.
So What FF&E Should You Invest In?
You don’t need us to tell you that hotel FF&E is a major investment for your hotel. But invest in the right pieces, and you’ll see that ROI
Multifunctional furniture is huge right now in hotel design. Hotel rooms are getting smaller, so furniture that serves several functions has real value.
Furniture that integrates technology keeps people from crawling under desks. Yes, integrate USB ports, but don’t forget the standard outlet, too!
Don’t Forget the Classics
Timeless finishes and colors make people feel at home. It might be best to use this year’s trendy colors and finishes sparingly and make sure the classics find their place.
Clean, But Not Sterile
Sterile is not just clean. It’s, well, sterile. And most people don’t want to live in a cleanroom. Don’t be afraid of wood (veneer, for money’s sake). Chances are wood is everywhere in a guest’s own home.
In short, be wary of the trendy. Pay attention to trends that aren’t an abrupt break with how people normally live. Keeping up with the trendy can get expensive because it requires frequent updating. Following trends offers a bit more breathing room.
One Big Trend To Keep Your Eye On
A good example of a trend that isn’t too disruptive is the move people are making toward living greener lifestyles. Many of these folks are trying to incorporate greener materials into their lives at home.
They appreciate it when the place they’re staying on a business trip or vacation tries to do the same.
Hotels that incorporate, say, recycled or reused materials in their furniture should let their guests know about it. It’s a point of differentiation that’s becoming more important as guests become more aware of the benefits.
Talk to a manufacturer
Like hotel owners and designers, FF&E manufacturers follow the trends. The good ones can tell the difference between what’s trendy and what’s a longer term trend. They’ve worked with enough hotels to know what works.
Spend a little time with your manufacturer. It could mean happier guests and a better bottom line.
Editor's Note: This blog post was originally published on October 18, 2018 and was updated on August 13, 2019 to reflect updated information and insight.