How to furnish a hotel: strategic and management components

We dealt with the general rules to be considered when deciding how to furnish a hotel in the article “How to furnish a hotel: general rules. But there are other aspects, which we will now analyse in detail, specific to each hotel. These are less general and more strategic/managerial: guests, restyling dynamics, and structural characteristics.

How to choose a furnishing style: guests

Identifying your typical guest is essential in decisions regarding the opening of a hotel, and is also fundamental when choosing its furnishing style: the aesthetics of rooms and common areas is one of the main factors in the hospitality experience. Among the many elements to consider, you should analyse at least

  • the tourist flows to be targeted
  • your guests’ origin
  • your target reference age

Obviously, if your reference tourist flow is couples on their honeymoon (or on an anniversary trip), your hotel must have a different style than for a flow of nature tourism or for a city of art. All things being equal, in the first case you can more easily choose the romantic atmospheres of classic or shabby-chic style, whereas in the second case natural furniture may be more to the tourist’s taste. Because tourist flows are normally very heterogeneous in composition, it is a good idea to conduct a detailed analysis to identify the predominant and/or niche flows to be targeted.

Net of cultural or social level, the principal origin of guests influences their preferences for the furnishing style of the hotel. These are linked to the aesthetic customs and to the architectural/cultural characteristics of their place of origin. For example, an average extra-European tourist will be more sensitive to a hotel furnished in classic style than a European tourist (especially Italian or French); in fact, a French tourist may find it predictable.

All things being equal, the reference age of guests is another element that may generate preference for a particular style of furnishing. Young guests normally like fusion style, especially if tinged with hipster colours, for example, with multicolour plastic chairs with different shapes. Older guests may prefer a hotel in minimal style.

How to choose a furnishing style: restyling dynamics

Hotels must be able to renew themselves over shorter and shorter time cycles, and this factor has to be considered when choosing a furnishing style. Design trends change very rapidly, and the proposed styles often have very strong and distinctive characteristics. Therefore, it should be remembered that a “trendy” style has a definite initial impact but may become obsolete as soon as the trend changes. Likewise, a strongly characterised style, such as a baroque version of the classic style, may be counterproductive in periods when minimal solutions are preferred.

The choice of materials also influences restyling dynamics: hi-tech or avant-garde materials wear more slowly but go out of style more quickly as they are replaced by newer ones. On the other hand, wood may be an evergreen, even though it has to make room for “colder” materials in minimal or urban styles.

Therefore, when you choose the style of your hotel you have to consider the expected restyling cycle and base your decision on this aspect.

But there is an option that can expand the range of possibilities: the operating lease, by which furniture makers can provide a part or even all of the hotel’s furniture based on a hire-purchase formula. The lease term is based on the agreement and can even last several years. When the lease term expires you can choose to keep the furniture and pay a final instalment, or change it and renew your hotel’s look. This solution also provides tax advantages, in addition to being less of a burden on the company’s financial structure by diluting costs instead of requiring a large initial investment.

How to choose a furnishing style: the structure

The characteristics of the structure play a major role in choosing the furnishing style. You have to consider at least the following aspects:

  • Position
  • Architectural age and style
  • Size of rooms and common areas
  • Panoramas and views
  • Characteristics of the ceilings and floors

The position of a hotel may dictate a certain perimeter of choices for the furnishing style: hotels in the centres of large cities can choose whatever style they want, but, all things being equal, a small bed & breakfast in the country dedicated to food&wine tourism may seem out of place with a full minimal or urban style.

The architectural age and style of the hotel to be furnished may impose some restrictions, although expert consultants, experienced architects, and skilful producers may sometimes manage to transform this aspect into an advantage by emphasising contrasts.

The size of rooms and common areas may indicate one style instead of another: for example, furnishing a small room in minimal style can help increase the guest’s perception of space and comfort.

Panoramas and views from the hotel should go with the furnishing style to be chosen, although you have to be careful not to fall into kitsch: if you choose a classic style with Tyrolese elements, or a marked shabby chic style for a mountain hotel, you risk producing a “Heidi effect” that may turn out to be comic or even grotesque.

High ceilings and terracotta floors can be an excellent incentive for classic style, whereas, all things being equal, modern finishes such as linoleum or resin tend to promote a more contemporary style, such as minimal or urban with industrial elements.

Conclusions

In the final analysis, when choosing a furnishing style for a hotel it is a good idea to consider this short list of characteristics in order to identify possible positive or negative effects. The only thing you should not lose sight of is good taste, along with the awareness that the choice of furnishing style is one of the critical elements of the guest’s experience. Therefore, the hotel’s furnishing style must never be only an expression of the owner’s or designer’s taste, but must also consider the needs of its guests.


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