• Ryan Haynes

Hotel design influenced by digitalisation

Social distancing, contactless technologies, new guest expectations and digitalisation - how much is it influencing the use of space in hospitality? Todd Lundgren, Principal at CRTKL talks about hotel design, the evolution of hospitality environments and the role of technology

Todd shares with us the key developments worldwide to explain what we can expect from hotel buildings over the next few years;

1. The projects being undertaken

2. The trends in new developments influencing design

3. Changing use of space

4. Generating greater ROI and attracting new audiences

5. Role of technology in design

6. Innovations occurring in the market Discover more from CRTKL perspectives on hospitality living environments in its latest publication Forecast 2022. Discover all our series, including Photographs and Memories, and Hoteliers' Voice


Program Notes


Ryan Haynes:

Hello, and welcome to Travel Market Life. I'm your host, Ryan Haynes and today's episode. We're going to be looking at Hotel design, the evolution of hospitality environments and the role of technology we're joined by Todd Lundgren. The Principal at CRTKL, a global architecture planning and design practice that over seven decades has evolved into a cultural agency advancing positive outcomes for communities. Todd builds on three decades of experience his widespread hotel experience in Asia Europe, the middle east Latin America, and North America covering a full spectrum of commercial development with so many changes. Over the last few years, I wanted to find out a little bit more about what's in store for Hotel design


Ryan Haynes:

So Todd, thank you very much for joining us. What types of projects are being undertaken and what can we expect to see around the world over the next few years?


Todd Lundgren:

Well, thank you, Ryan. It's been a, it's been a pleasure having the opportunity to talk with you today. We're certainly seeing right now is that there's a significant number of renovation projects. That's the predominant aspect right now? Well, more than new build developments. Take a lot of time to go through the entitlement and planning process and a renovation and repositioning can be completed much faster and start generating those returns that clients are demanding sooner. So while there are renovations of existing hotels, there are also a lot of conversion opportunities. The evolution of working has created a huge surplus of empty office space or potentially empty office space.


Todd Lundgren:

And a lot of class B and C office buildings are never going to be able to be used as office projects again. So we're seeing a huge opportunity in, in this area of hybrid hospitality of service departments, extended stay even, even senior living and co-living that all can fit really nicely into an office building conversion at the same time, you know, there's still some new development there are emerging markets where new travel demands, new tourism opportunities. There's always going to be some new development, but I think in the near term, renovations and conversions are going to be really the core area.


Ryan Haynes:

And I suppose that differences between geographies as well as you say, like the middle east, I guess there's a huge amount of investment going into new builds. And as you say, there's less space necessarily in, in Europe and sort of converting what you've already had. There's been a lot of talk about this idea of urban living and how you use spaces for multiple purposes, almost like you just mentioned and the conversion from what was office spaces into more hospital environments and the alternative accommodation factor as well that it's not just about hotels anymore. So I guess it opens up more opportunities for creativity surely.


Todd Lundgren:

No, no, it absolutely does. And one of the things that we're seeing is, you know, hospitality informs residential. Residential is informing workplace. You know, there's this blurring massively between what would traditional individual sort of typologies and the learnings that we're able to bring from all of those and inform, you know, this new notion of, of hybrid hospitality we call it, I think creates some really exciting opportunities, both as designers, but also for guests and, and, and the communities within which these projects,


Ryan Haynes:

I guess there's no better time then to learn from other industries and see how they're actually evolving and, and introducing new factors and features to buildings.


Todd Lundgren:

Yeah, well, you know, I've always gravitated to hotels because I think of hotels is a little mixed use projects all in, in amongst themselves. There's a residential piece, there's an entertainment, leisure piece. There's a corporate piece. And that's just becoming enhanced in, in this new world that we see after COVID where things all come together and people want to have these experiences, but not necessarily moving from one building to another to another, they can have them all in the same place.


Ryan Haynes:

So yeah, let's look at some of the trends that are really influencing the new developments and design itself. You know, as you say, your, your passion for hotels and looking at what's happening across the wider sector of property. I mean, I understand that guests expectations is, is really at the forefront there.


Todd Lundgren:

Yeah. You know, what guests increasingly want to have is it's not just a, a night in a bed. They w even if you're on a business trip, you, you want to have an authentic experience. You want to have, you want to create some memories. So guests at all levels, but especially the younger generations of travellers now are really demanding, authentic, and memorable experiences. And that's that, that, that wants unique design, no cookie cutter design. They want special places. They want one of a kind activities. Those are the things that they want to have. And they want to be connected to the place that they're in, not just the city, it's not just, they want to be connected to London.


Todd Lundgren:

They want to be connected to the shortage or to Mayfair. It has to be that granular in terms of, of that unique offer. So it's a real opportunity for in the design world to curate those experiences and really become part of that community.


Ryan Haynes:

Does that feel that you're a bit more of an artist today rather than just an architectural firm?


Todd Lundgren:

Well, I actually like to say that what we design our experiences, not buildings just happen to house them. And sometimes it's the spaces between the buildings or outside the buildings that are just as important as inside the building. So, you know, I think your, your, your introduction talked about, you know, us as a cultural agency and inspiring experiences. That's the way we like to think it's about designing experiences because that's what people remember and want to gravitate to.


Ryan Haynes:

Oh, absolutely. When you've been in a phenomenal building, you're never going to forget it. And it's a one, one thing that's going to certainly change your perceptions of, of, of buildings and spaces in the future. And as we look at spaces, there was a great change in how we had to utilise spaces over the last couple of years from social distancing to how we really embraced outdoor spaces, particularly in the UK, which was remarkable because we've always been, you know, forced indoors because of the weather, except obviously for those beautiful sunny summer days. So have you seen the changes in the use of space and the role of social distancing and contact lists impacting the hospitality spaces?


Todd Lundgren:

Well, you know, there's sort of two, there are two sides to that coin. I mean, you know, on any new projects, I have not seen a brief from a hotel operator be any different really than what it was before. So in terms of, you know, area per seat in a restaurant, or, you know, metrics for meeting space, design spas, there really is very little change. I think Ian Schrager even said at one point early in the pandemic, he said, we'll be right back to where we were before the pandemic in some cases that seems to be kind of true at the same time. You know, as you, as you said, there's a lot more being done with outdoor spaces and rooftops and terraces.


Todd Lundgren:

And so instead of maybe packing a hundred seats into an indoor environment, now you'll have 60 seats in an indoor space and you'll use a roof terrace or an outdoor environment to create that additional dining. And I still find it really interesting that as I walk around London, even when the weather is not great, the outdoor spaces are full and the indoor spaces people have kind of spread out a little bit. So I think, I think there's a sense of sense about from the pandemic that Hey, outdoor spaces can be really kind of cool. And, and, and I think it ties into your part of the, you're more part of the community when you're dining along the street.


Todd Lundgren:

You're part of that scene in that environment. It's not just a hotel, it's, it's part of that broader experience and people, I think, realise they love that. And I think that'll stay


Ryan Haynes:

Excellent. I mean, I certainly enjoy being outside to say nothing better than the fresh air, although it is in London. So now when it comes to buildings and spaces and hospitality, it's not just about the experience for the business. It's also about generating that revenue. How can you generate greater ROI and attract new audiences and perhaps what's the role of F and B in the recovery and growth?


Todd Lundgren:

Well, I think FMBs everything or almost everything today. The notion of the kind of traditional hotel restaurant, no one, no one really wants to go there. They want to have it doesn't have to be luxury. It doesn't have to be expensive, but they want to have a unique experience, and unique food. And, you know, just to, you know, an offer that they can't get somewhere else. And it could be everything from visiting chefs and curating, you know, almost a pop-up restaurant within a restaurant just to drive that differentiation. So you're always seeing something new there.


Todd Lundgren:

You know, we're looking at lifestyle hotels generate 50% of their revenue from food and beverage at a typical hotel in the past used to maybe not make any money off of food and beverage, you know, there may be driven 20% of the revenue and zero of the profit. It was all about the beds. And so I think there's a trend to wanting to have that unique dining experience at, at every, at any price point really, and, you know, and, and, and curating that in a way that connects to the place and, and the demographic psychographics of the people that, that are around there.


Ryan Haynes:

Yeah. I mean, what we see we've had, we've seen the whole time that the businesses really have to sort of turn to different business units to bring that revenue in over the last few years and partner and collaborate in, in so many different unique ways. And, and, and really think about what that value proposition is. And I guess having that flexibility in how they use that space just gives them many more options.


Todd Lundgren:

Yeah. You know, some hotels are outsourcing food and beverage. I mean, literally bringing in two or three different chefs or different outlets and matching that up and creating that, you know, almost a food hall type of environment where you can try different things. And then the hotel is just almost getting revenue from leasing the space and, and, and whatever support they get. So, you know, there are different models that are being looked at those kitchens where you're actually, you know, sending food out into the community, builds a bit of resilience in the business as well that wasn't there before.


Todd Lundgren:

So there are lots of different models that people are looking at to drive enhanced revenue from the food from the FMB. So they're not as reliant on just heads and beds as they were in the past.


Ryan Haynes:

Yeah, absolutely. Just making sure that they've got their multiple income streams and that they're stable and reliable now. I mean, technology digitalisation, what role is that playing within the design and, and, and development of properties and spills and how is it enabling you to do your job better?


Todd Lundgren:

Well, you know, there are a couple of layers to it. I'll speak first to how it, how it helps us do our job better as designers and architects. But then I, you know, we have a lot of thoughts about how that is used in a way to enhance the experience. So I want to touch on that as well from a pure us doing our job perspective, the 3d tools that we have, and the ability to virtually model buildings, looking at how we can use computational design to enhance the performance of a building from, from a sustainability perspective, we can look at how we can cite design a facade, all these different things so that we can drive that notion of planet positive design because that has a direct impact on not only the operation and performance of the hotel but also its perception from a guest standpoint, guests more and more are looking at, you know, the places they spend their money have to have a commitment to their beliefs about climate change and ESG and things like that.


Todd Lundgren:

And we're gonna have tools that enable us to really demonstrate that, you know, early in the process so that we have confidence in the outcomes that we create. You know, we also use things to actually, you know, let a client walk around a model room without having to build a model room initially. So you can speed up the process, you know, a little bit by using some of these 3d tools, you know, that architects and designers now out there at their hands from a standpoint of the, of the hotel operation. I mean, you know, as I said before, everyone craves a real experience and, that includes digital natives, you know?


Todd Lundgren:

Yeah. They love the technology they're on their devices all the time, but they still want to have a real experience. So I think, I think the notion that that technology can become pervasive, you know, robot room service and all that kind of stuff. I think that fits in some places maybe, maybe Las Vegas, something like that, but, but probably doesn't really have the right place in luxury and lifestyle hospitality. And I, and I, I see those as two areas where, you know, more and more luxury and lifestyle hotels are going to continue to be, to perform well because of that notion of experiences. So how digital and technology is able to be used to, you know, to allow the hotel employee to spend more time with a guest, rather than like what their head in the computer, trying to check somebody in, they can do it in two clicks and they can talk to the guests.


Todd Lundgren:

They can understand how, how technology can enhance the ability to deliver a great experience is I think the magic place for tech within the hotel world.


Ryan Haynes:

Excellent. I mean, I know there's been a lot of talk about these 3d designs, the virtual reality, the ability to be able to sort of share product developments, project developments, virtually, which we obviously had to do over the last couple of years, the role of digital twins, enabling people to actually visualise almost in, in, in, in real what the property will actually look like. But from your perspective, then Todd, what are the three key innovations occurring in the markets that you would say people should look out for?


Todd Lundgren:

Well, look, I think the, I think the notion is blurring of all these businesses together, nothing's viewed in isolation anymore. You want to be able to go to a hotel and, and, you know, work there effectively connect with a community, have a, have a great time and get a great night's rest, that those blurring of all these sectors you want. I think that's going to continue to stay in hybrid. Hospitality is going to continue to evolve. And I think that's a great thing for guests. It's a great thing for communities. And I think that's an innovation that is going to continue to build and develop.


Todd Lundgren:

I think the, the next thing is just the continued evolution of, of, you know, food and beverage and dining and how that drives that connection and engagement with the local community create a sense of destination, about a hotel for locals and, and visitors and transients, and, and that drives enhanced revenue and performance of the hotel. And then the last thing is, is really that seamless often invisible technology using data, both to optimise the performance of an asset, but also to optimise the ability for the hotel operator to deliver that amazing experience to the guest and customise and curate things.


Todd Lundgren:

You and I could both go to the same hotel and we'd both want different experiences because we're different people and the hotels that are able to pull that off and really relate one-to-one with each individual guest are going to be the hotels that are successful going forward.


Ryan Haynes:

Excellent. Todd, thank you very much for joining us today.


Todd Lundgren:

It's been a pleasure, Ryan. I really enjoyed the conversation.


Ryan Haynes:

We're going to be discussing this more in the coming months. Stay tuned to Travel Market Life for more of these episodes and more discussions in the future. I'm your host, Ryan Haynes. Thanks, for listening. Ciao for now

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