Transforming the guest experience: how to add value with furnishings
Liam O’Donnell for Luxury B&B Magazine
In the competitive hospitality marketplace, customers seek much more than just modern deco and good food and demand value at every stage of the guest experience from entering the establishment, to ordering a meal to post-service offerings. Guests are constantly after the next big thing whether it is the latest technology, the most original theme or the upmost best in customer service, so business owners must now be more diligent than ever when considering the guest experience. So, customer service, brand new websites and extra parking might all play a role, but furnishings can truly set a place apart from the ordinary and wow guests at each stage of their stay. Furnishings are often overlooked but can be detrimental when done wrong, leaving guests feeling extremely underwhelmed and disappointed. Colour pallets, materials and lighting all contribute to the look and feel of a space, so just how do you strike the right balance with furnishings to achieve the ultimate oasis for customers? Here are some key ways to add value with furnishings.
Creating ambience with colour pallet
Choosing the right colour pallet is an important part of a hospitality establishment and can promote a certain mood or atmosphere in a space, allowing owners to create a relaxed, exciting or luxurious setting. In light of this, considering the psychology behind a colour choice can help to construct the desired ambience. If you are opting for a natural earthy feel to mirror a tranquil outdoors or perhaps imitate a serene meditative atmosphere and a calm interior, choose a range of muted blue or green tones to keep visitors calm and relaxed. This can be a great choice for bedrooms as it allows customers to wind down after a busy day and will permit them to draw positive associations with the space. Moreover, if a warm, exciting and enjoyable feeling is desired, then opting for a bright colour pallet can truly make a room pop. Orange and red tones in particular can stimulate a range of positive emotions, such as excitement, creating an instant buzz for a space. These colours are also said to rouse appetites, so this can be the perfect pallet for a restaurant or bar area.
Investing in tech
The ever increasing trend of technology means that more hotels, restaurants and B&Bs are expected to utilise this to improve the customer experience. So, aside from updating the website and booking service, it is important to recognise that it can also mean more sophisticated furnishing options. Smart TVs are now making their way into guest’s bedrooms and offer easy interactivity and personalisation, making guests feel more at home. They are also aesthetically pleasing with streamline edges and few unpleasant wires, making them an obvious choice for establishment owners. In addition, interactive lighting panels also create ease for guests and allow them to control the room from one place, ultimately making the stay as carefree as possible.
Obtaining comfort and style with materials
Selecting the correct materials for a space can also add to the guest experience and will help to construct a certain theme or atmosphere. To create a feeling of luxury and sophistication, it is important to choose materials to reflect this to make guests feel entirely immersed in a luxurious experience, encouraging them return time and time again. Lavish embroidered upholstery and velvet textures can give an extra bit of sophistication to seating whilst also being extremely durable and comfortable. Moreover, those places truly looking to cement a luxurious theme can opt for a dramatic centrepiece wall that is papered in a deep gold or an embossed texture, leaving guests in awe and fabulous review pictures online. Conversely, natural materials can establish an entirely different vibe and can accentuate other characteristics such as colour pallet, menu choices and an indoors/outdoors theme. Natural wood tones and raw materials can create a modern look that will intrigue customers and give an outdoorsy feel to a space. This is particularly great for daytime spots that serve lunch and breakfast.
Fit for purpose furnishings
Great furnishings can be jaw dropping, but if they fail to serve the setting or are inappropriately placed, they can detract from the customer experience. For example, industrial-looking rustic steal seating might look great when creating a contemporary, raw and modern space, but if customers are expected to sit for long periods of time it might be uncomfortable, potentially leading to them feeling unfavourably about the establishment. If a dining space is utilised for three course meals, it is perhaps more suitable to opt for more comfortable upholstered seating that will allow customers to enjoy their meal and the surroundings. Furthermore, the comfort of a mattress should never be overlooked as a bad night’s sleep can leave anyone feeling cranky and might affect perceptions of the entire experience. Consequently, the cheapest option might not always be the right one and you shouldn’t be afraid to pay extra for mattress quality – customers will thank you for it later!
Make it unique
With plenty of hospitality spaces opting for similar decor and trends, it can be difficult to truly stand out and set a space apart from the ordinary. But customers love something different, so offering something a little unusual, interesting of outside of the norm can help you be remembered and will add to a guest’s visit. Large seating pods can create a fun, exciting and communal feel whilst hanging seats can inject entertainment into a room, thus enhancing the customer experience. Moreover, the unusual can extend beyond seating and transcend into centrepiece lighting that mirror art deco sculptures. Geometric box lighting and extravagant chandeliers can be a great way to grab attention and will certainly be unforgettable for customers.
Standing the test of time
Although this might not be the most exciting aspect of design, it is important that furnishings can withstand wear and tear and maintain an exemplary finish at all times. Worn down furnishings will certainly create negative opinions, making the customer experience less attractive and the stay less enjoyable. Using double top-coated wood finish can be a great way to keep furniture pieces looking top-notch and will also make any spillages easier to clean. Furthermore, opting for a metal finish can be a great way to create a contemporary, industrial vibe whilst also being long-standing and durable. Moreover, to ensure that the space maintains its look, it is important to properly source furniture pieces from a knowledgeable manufacturer who places quality at the centre of each piece as excellent manufacturing means furnishings are more hard-wearing whilst looking great! This also means that long-term cost effectiveness is maintained as fewer repairs and refurbishments are required.
The significance of lighting
Lighting is a fundamental aspect of any space and shouldn’t be overlooked. Effective lighting can invent an entirely new ambience and can change a chilled daytime café to a bustling night time spot. Geometric box styles and metal frames are pushing their way into hotels, bars and restaurants. Extravagant tripod spotlighting in polished metals can give a space a modern feel and open metalwork hanging lights are most definitely on trend. This also gives establishments a chance to play around with different metals to reflect or absorb light, from copper, to bronze or even matte black. The tone of the lighting should also be considered, warm light can create a relaxed and cosy atmosphere whereas coloured bulbs, in pinks and blues, can capture a lively and festive space. This can really make a bar space pop and will leave customers wanting more. Similarly to the colour pallet, this can allow customers to feel a certain way allowing them to constructive a positive narrative of their experience whilst contributing to the overall value proposition.
The idea behind the design
Conscious consumerism shows no signs of putting the brakes on and with more customers paying attention to sustainability than ever before, hospitality establishments should be to. Through providing furnishings that contribute to a bigger picture or idea, customers can truly engage with an establishment and feel positively about their experience. Certified furnishings, energy efficient lighting and sustainable restaurant food schemes are just a few ways to develop a sustainable brand that puts added meaning behind hotel stays and hospitality design. Furniture in particular should now represent an ethical stance, with the use of environmentally certified materials that minimise carbon footprints making their way to the forefront of design.
About the author, Liam O’Donnell:
Liam O’Donnell is the director of Valdivian Furniture, a British furniture manufacturer that specialises in bespoke, hand crafted contract furniture. Liam has deep rooted personal interest in environmental issues and over 16 years of experience in manufacturing furniture. He is a highly experienced wood machinist and specialist joiner which translates into the company’s meticulous and careful approach to furniture production. Find out more at: www.valdivianfurniture.co.uk.