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A
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What role will hotels play in our society after COVID?
Current
2020
list Article list

What role will hotels play in our society after COVID?

In June, Make Director Katy Ghahremani filmed a short piece for The Plan as part of the Italian title’s #NewTomorrow series, which looks at the future of design post-COVID. In it Katy discussed the hospitality industry, which is one of the sectors most immediately affected by lockdown and will undoubtedly have far-reaching effects.

The sector is making its first tentative steps towards reopening in the UK. Katy looked at how hotels  will need to adapt, especially once the traditional ‘holiday’ period is over, as it is unlikely that travel will return to how it was before the pandemic.

“Travel has become an essential part of people’s lives over the last 30 years or so,” she said. “Many are distressed now as they try to envisage how it might be possible to return to travel in the future and feel safe going around the world, whether for business or pleasure.

“Hotels will need to embed themselves in their local neighbourhoods and communities. As the number of tourists, business or foreign guests diminishes, hotels will need to attract people who live in the nearby locality. These new local guests will be looking for a different offer – perhaps a quiet space to work away from home, somewhere to have meal, or a place to learn about and experience new local suppliers for food, fashion, crafts et cetera.

“Hotel brands have a huge advantage over many other businesses in that their brands are built on shared values and trust which has already been established. This means guests will trust the hotel now more than they will a new or anonymous brand. They’ll trust the hotel to maintain hygiene, whether that be in their physical space or in the preparation of food and drinks.

“Historically, hoteliers did not want guests to see back of house areas and activities like cleaning. Now, seeing people cleaning and washing is seen as a positive aspect. The same way that it is becoming more popular to have open kitchens where people can see their food being made, equally we may see open laundry areas and people cleaning generally in the hotel. Back of house will be the new front of house.

“If the hotel cannot fill all their guest rooms in a traditional way, they may convert some rooms into private office space. That would be incredibly attractive to people who may want a quiet space to work near where they live. And, as many hotels offer balconies, the option of working with fresh air and ventilation will be very appealing to people who have been cooped up in box room offices.

“Hotels can then think about how they can expand the services they offer for their new workers – for example, a beautifully prepared lunch or meeting space, or maybe even a massage after a day of staring at the laptop. Semi-open-air spaces like courtyards and gardens could attract those using hotel rooms as offices to go outdoors for their lunch break. And maybe walk-in gyms and spas can become accessible from the street. Hotels already have many of these facilities; it simply means looking at simple adaptations to broaden their market and diversify their offer.

“As well as being attractive as an alternative workspace, hotels can also be places to meet friends and family and have a shared experience. Opening up the front of house areas to the local community will bring a sense of authenticity to the hotel and integrate it into its neighbourhood. Again, this is building on the trust that people have of hotel brands.

“None of these changes are new; most were happening already. However, the pandemic has just accelerated the changes and the evolution of hotels in our society.”