Custom hotel furniture manufacture

What Does the Future Hold? Custom Furniture Programming for 2021.

With reduced income for properties, how are guest expectations met over the next 12 months?

To put it bluntly; 2020 has been a shitshow. The good news is, for refurbishments we have a program in place to meet budgets set by previous year on year cost forecasts. But we need time to plan; we need double the lead time of previous projects.

Traditionally, this is how it worked:

Brief > Concept > Design > Prototypes > Production > Installation

These steps remain the same, but each one is tweaked. The following outlines some of the changes:

  • Brief - We all need to understand new rules of what is required in a hotel room. For example, how can accommodation can be deep cleaned?
  • Concept – During this step, we need to keep in mind what is available. For furniture, we see the “off the rack item” going towards plastic furniture. Beautiful, custom furniture will still be available using prototypes but to ensure seamless project completion, keeping in mind what is available, and how, is crucial at the point of concept.
  • Design - The final design needs to be more specific and more defined than ever. Every detail needs to be noted and planned precisely. Understanding how each piece will be produced and the logistics of installation during the design phase will reduce costs and timeframes throughout the rest of the project.
  • Prototypes - This is the most critical part. When importing furniture, prototypes need to be produced for every item to production standard. Time needs to be allowed for adjustments to the prototype as the project cannot progress until these prototypes are signed off by the client. Initially 2 identical prototypes are produced; one stays with the factory and the other with the client. Previously approval could be given within hours of the prototype being completed with a visit directly to the factory, making changes onsite and within 48 hours have a complete prototype. COVID restrictions on travel and the supply chain mean prototypes need to be freighted in from overseas. This is the new delay we need to allow for to maintain the budgets of previous years.

    hotel bedside table
  • Production – Factories are essentially operating back at 100% capacity. There is a new freight schedule to allow for paperwork and two weeks at sea for foreign ships, but this only affects the “fast” nine-day boat.
  • Installation - This needs to be booked as far in advance as possible as many install companies have pivoted into cleaning companies thought out 2020 (as have we all). Unfortunately, some no longer exist leaving others to try to fill any gaps.

custom hotel master bed

In essence anything and everything is still possible given time. With generous lead times, we can still furnish beautiful rooms to a budget with detail that is better than ever ensuring the guest experience is exceeded for years to come. Over the next few years it would be a shame for guests to stay in recently furbished but underwhelming rooms. Increased complexity and restrictions on furniture supply doesn’t have to mean reducing the guest experience to standard off the rack products.

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Best Hotel and Resort Design in Australia?

An Easy Question; Hard to Answer

As hotel and resort designers, we are often asked what we think is the best designed hotel or resort in a particular city, from Port Douglas and Cairns to Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide.

This question is often asked by clients and industry colleagues when developing a brief for a new development or hotel refurbishment. Sometimes our clients are looking for the latest trends and inspiration to understand where a hotel design might head and other times its to understand what the competitor landscape is in regard to the level of style and fit out needed to stand out in a competitive environment.

So, what are our opinions on best hotel designs? Well our response is not clear cut for a number of reasons.

Firstly, a great design is dependent on the need of the guest. What is the guest’s purpose? As a hotel provider, what purpose are you targeting? What are your guests needs and expectations? This may seem to be replying to a sincere question with a complicated answer, but considering the guests’ expectations, and exceeding them, as part of the design phase sets up the development or refurbishment for success early in the process. For example, when we travel for business, we choose accommodation which suits our purpose of staying compared to traveling with our children which is much more centred around them. As a hotel or resort guest, our choice to stay in a particular hotel or resort depends on our purpose which then forms our expectations.

The question of ‘which hotel has the best design’ is better placed into context; ‘does the design meet the guests expectations?’ Are the guests seeking accommodation purely for leisure? Are they a family? Are the guests staying for a private weekend away with their other half? Are they, like us, in and out of a location within 24 or 48 hours after business meetings and dinner? As you can appreciate, different designs will suit different customer segment.

From a design stand point, meeting guests’ expectations is a very upstream concept which, if not considered early enough, can have negative impacts as the years roll on in terms of customer loyalty, reviews and ultimately profit. If it’s known what the customer expects in terms of experience, facilities, style, service and technology to name a few, then an expert interior designer can create rooms and public spaces to meet these needs which in turn meets the guest’s expectations resulting in high satisfaction and recommendation of the property.

A second reason why our answer is never definitive considers the quality of the hotel or resort fit out. The fit out is more downstream, but the quality of the final product can greatly detract from an amazing design. The adage, ‘first impressions last’ don’t last forever when a family of four doesn’t fit on the only couch, the microwave is placed in another room or an occasional chair fails with a guest sitting in it. A great, considered design will always look great on paper but what will the fit out look like in one, three or seven years?

In future posts, we will provide our opinions on what we believe are elements of outstanding hotel and resort design as we delve deeper into how hotel design effects the guest experience plus strategic approaches to hotel design but for now, think about your guest’s purpose when travelling to any of your properties; why are they visiting? What facilities do they need? Where do they need to be located?

Without doubt, no matter what anyone recommends, the most enjoyable accommodation stays come down to the entire experience. A combination of design, fit out, staff, facilities, price as well as many others. But if customer expectations are considered early in the design process, it is one less issue someone has to deal with at some stage in the future; usually the hotel or regional manager.

What is it that you look for on a memorable stay? Are these the same as your guests? When was the last time you visited one of your hotels or resorts?

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