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Hospitality Design: Understanding and fulfilling the clients needs.


Hospitality design includes such projects as hotels, restaurants, bars cafes and nightclubs to sporting clubs. For an interior designer in this specialty, it is important to understand the client’s business, including operational procedures, image and use requirements as well as budget and financial constraints. Our design solutions have to be responsive to goals, budgets and aesthetic objectives established by the owner so they are market-driven designs. The facilities we design are destinations for the end user, so we design for two sets of clients -our client and their customer.

It’s important to work with the client from his or her perspective. Hospitality clients are very concerned with cost. To understand why, you must be knowledgeable about their debt service, what they spend on project, time frame for payback and exit strategy, projected profit and cost of doing business. Their funding must cover all costs, including fees. To be successful, the designer must understand why working within the budgeted amount is so important. Every pound put into the project has to support the owner’s ultimate financial goals and satisfy debt servicing. Owners respond well to designers who can assure them that their design solution will give them the edge in meeting or exceeding their financial goals for the property.

Optimizing the budget and offering options is a major concern of clients. In hospitality design there’s enormous wear and tear on the interiors, especially seating, flooring and fabrics. By presenting options and pointing out differences in quality, what the overall cost will mean to the budget, and where pounds can be saved on something else, we relate design and cost to longevity. Business people understand that. Without this knowledge, our decisions will not be valid and will often be rejected.

Today people are eating out more than ever, so we find restaurants becoming a destination or a part of something happening – eating is only part of the overall experience. Design, along with food and service, creates a reason for the diner to return.

Travel and tourism are the world’s largest industry. Today, there is enormous competition for pounds spent in hospitality design. For instance, more luxurious bathrooms and materials attract customers to many hotels. Even though this capital expenditure represents one of the highest costs of hotel construction, it is an investment rewarded with years of returns. Also you won’t find many (good) hotels that don’t have plenty of power points, phone charge ports and fast Wi-Fi in communal areas. By understanding these trends, we can provide alternatives and solutions for the client’s benefit. They are learning quality is important if it can be shown to create added value to the property.

Over the next 10 years, changes in demographics, attitudes and lifestyles will continue to affect what, where and how consumers eat, drink or where they stay, so designers must stay in touch with these desires of the public and understand that design that is “off the mark” can lose business for the client. Building control requirements, the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (DDA) and The Construction Design & Management Regulations (NI) 2016 have caused immense changes, particularly in the hospitality industry. It’s imperative to keep abreast of these issues and changes, along with professional registration. As litigation seems to be a way of life, designers must be aware of the regulations and restrictions of our profession.

As hospitality designers, it is important we are skilled in professional project management. Our clients have a fixed opening date that’s tied to publicity, parties or events. Experience teaches us what to anticipate and what questions to ask so we can manage the project better. We need to constantly monitor all trades involved, from the contractor all the way to the delivery and installation of furnishings. Clients and all parties involved must be kept informed in a timely manner that is brief and understandable. Because of the scheduling issues, communication with the client up front is important on programming or desired effects, budgetary concerns, presentation methods and schedules, the approval process (who, how and when), and the time frame for each. The client needs to know what they can expect from the designer and how to work together most effectively.

Because there is an enormous amount of co-ordination in hospitality projects, hospitality design is very much a team effort involving client, contractor, designer, consultants and specialists suppliers. Good teaming must start from the beginning. Clients do not want to be in the middle when conflicts arise.

In summary, hospitality designers must provide design that will produce greater customer satisfaction and improve the client’s bottom line. Hospitality designers sell the value of the investment in the design and the return on the investment by relating recommendations to the client’s desired image or targeted audience, keeping within the budgeted amount and still maximizing quality and ensuring the longevity of the design. The client will see the return on his or her investment when the end user finds it appealing and spends pounds, and he or she sees the design ware well and remain relevant over the years.

Thinking of refurbishing or extending your business ?

Contact Mc Donnell Design, Interior Designers to the Hospitality sector.