As technology keeps evolving, hotels will find new ways to incorporate new capabilities as a standard part of the renovation process. Mark Landini, creative director at Sydney-based firm Landini Associates, said design teams and hotel teams should start by reviewing how hotels function, what they can offer guests and how they incorporate this both with their existing facilities and in the future.
“We work with technology as a completely integral part of the guest experience, always supported by human interaction,” he said. “Wiring and infrastructure need to be completely hidden and discreet. The design of touchscreens or other interfaces must be well-branded and accessible to all—including the disabled.”
When technology upgrades are added to a project, they must be “clear, accessible and easy,” Landini said. “Boost your Wi-Fi capacity, including outdoors by the pool and golf pro shop ... In guestrooms, we’ve seen wonderful apps or tablets that control room experience: lighting, temperature, entertainment.” But, he cautioned, a third of hotel guests won’t want to use a tablet or apps to control their experience. “Are they able to access all the functionality without the device?”
At the same time, Landini said hoteliers should think more about how to upgrade their spaces for day guests. “More hotel brands are creating coworking clubs for hotel-as-workplace revenues,” he said. “Some of these facilities offer conference rooms for presentations and Zoom meetings, and they benefit from convenient connectivity and access to cables and peripherals. I’ve only seen one hotel with a green-screen room for webinar use, but I think they’re onto something.”
Designers should be paying particular attention to the latest digital technology trends that customers are demanding when they begin a project, said Richard Clarke IV, a partner at AO Architects. “They can prepare for the future by creating better energy-management and marketing systems, in addition to thinking creatively about how technology can impact guest experiences.”
AO Architects is renovating the historic Hotel Laguna in Laguna Beach, Calif., restoring the historical facade of the 1920s-era property while updating the non-historical additions that have been added over the past century.
The property is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, so the renovation has to maintain historical details. “The hotel requires a total rework of the electrical, plumbing and [heating, ventilation and air conditioning] systems as all these systems have been neglected or altered for years,” Clarke said. “We were able to include some of the latest digital and wireless technologies as their implementation required minimal physical alterations and did not compromise any historical details.”
When incorporating technology upgrades into a renovation, Clarke said designers should take care to maintain the original character of the structure by making them as seamless as possible. “The perfect scenario is for no one to notice the additions,” he said. “We’ve found success developing smart energy management, smart guest experiences and mobile room keys, which are subtle ways to incorporate modern comforts without disrupting the integrity of a building.”