Andria Santos, CEO of Montreal-based design firm Fulhaus, attended this year's Hotec Operations conference. After the event, she shared her insights on how the industry is evolving and how networking can help in troubled times.
1. How has your segment of the industry changed over the past two years?
The travel industry was hit hard by the pandemic but now, it’s coming back with a vengeance and we’re seeing a lot of growth in the industry. Travelers are looking for experiences (especially after two years of pandemic-related restrictions) and a well-designed hotel or vacation rental caters to that. What’s more, travelers have more choices than ever before and that means a well-designed space is becoming increasingly important—design is a major factor driving consumer purchasing decisions. To remain agile, competitive and relevant among customers, the hotel and [short-term rental] industries are increasingly looking for companies that offer comprehensive interior design solutions.
2. Can you share some ways you and your company have adapted to these changes?
Fülhaus has developed [artificial intelligence]-powered technology to facilitate the design and procurement process for the hospitality industry. Our subscription furniture model also helps hotels remain competitive via design as it’s intentionally built to be flexible, agile and cash-flow friendly.
3. What are some trends you think will have staying power beyond 2022?
WFA (work from anywhere)—this new model is fueling micro industries within hospitality, such as month-long stay options that offer multifunctional live/work spaces and hotel environments that have a homier, residential feel.
4. What is the biggest challenge you have overcome over the past two years?
Remaining agile in our sourcing and methodology while still offering comprehensive design packages that meet clients’ needs at a time when the global supply chain was heavily disrupted was certainly a major challenge—for context: we don’t house any inventory. Our proprietary technology enables us to deliver [furniture, fixtures and equipment] on time and on budget that still retains a design concept while individual items may be delayed or out of stock.
5. How have you incorporated sustainability into your hospitality operations?
Our rental and subscription models help to keep furniture out of landfills—when clients decide to return the leased furniture at the end of their rental contract, we donate everything to Habitat for Humanity.
6. What is the value of meeting hospitality buyers one on one?
We care an awful lot about design. Since we have such a unique and innovative offering with our subscription model and unrivaled solution to interior design for this industry, meeting hospitality buyers one-on-one presents us with the opportunity to demonstrate how we can help grow a hotel business and connect with potential clients by building lasting relationships.