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Industry Media - Hotel Designs Magazine

Updated: Nov 29, 2023

In our hospitality industry trade media mini series, we speak with Hamish Kilburn, editorial of Hotel Designs to discover the thinking of the publication and the news and content that engages its audience. Learn more about Hotel Designs

  • How the publication is made up and its key audience

  • The subjects and topics that captures readers attention

  • How to get featured editorially and advertorially

  • The developments in the sector

  • And its unique awards ceremony

For more visit Hotel Designs


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Programme Notes


This episode has been automatically transcribed by AI, please excuse any typos or grammatical errors


Ryan Haynes:

Hello and welcome back to Travel Market Life. I'm your host Ryan Haynes, and this is part of our mini-series, looking at the hospitality industry, and trade media. Today we're going to be looking at Hotel Designs with Hamish Kilburn, the editor.


Ryan Haynes:

Travel Market Life is backed by Haynes MarComs, A B2B, marketing communications, and PR consultancy, specializing in the technology travel, hospitality and property sectors, creating meaningful connections and visibility to grow. Hans Marcoms cuts through the noise to resonate with target buyers, decision-makers and influencers. From contextualizing your mission to positioning your value proposition. Haynes Marcos helps you address the issues that matter. Marketing, PR and social build profile, gain, momentum, and shape strategy with Hanes Marcos


Ryan Haynes:

Joining me now is Hamish Kilburn, editor of Hotel Designs. Hey Hamish, good to see you. Thanks for joining us today. Hey


Hamish Kilburn:

Ryan, how's it going? All


Ryan Haynes:

Very well. Thank you very much. It's been busy a few months, but I'm glad that we've got you on here finally. And you are one of two podcasts. So, let's hear about the publication that you've been heading for some time, right?


Hamish Kilburn:

Yeah, we are the leading international Hotel Design platform. So, we publish the latest news, features, reviews, and interviews, and to be honest with you, we've just been evolving over the years. So, I've been the editor now for five years and in that time we've, we've launched our own podcast. We've started doing more round tables, and more interactive content. And I just kind of see our publication as a way of connecting the industry and the community together. And then in recent years, I guess our readership has, has moved also over to more of a consumer audience as well, sort of really locking in and keeping the, the sort of business-to-business sort of style of content.


Hamish Kilburn:

But it's been more relevant for consumers because I think design is becoming more at the forefront of their decisions when they're deciding what hotels to book. So yeah, we kind of cover everything at hotel signs.


Ryan Haynes:

It is fascinating. I mean, I like a good bit of property porn myself. So, you know, checking out the Lados Hotel Designs and some of the innovations that have been developed over time, and obviously, it's really where we are seeing sort of some of the trends in both home interiors start to come from because you've got the big designers now really investing their time in, in, in hotel properties. What are some of the particular exciting developments that you've seen in recent years?


Hamish Kilburn:

I think for me, like, to be honest with you, it never ceases to amaze me that there's, there's a hotel opening every sort of minute of the day. Like there's, it just, it's a never-ending industry, which is great for me and also our audience as well. But there's a convergence between, as you said, the convergence between hospitality, residential, you know, even retail as well. There's, there's basically what, what I find quite interesting with our, with our audience and our designers is they're really looking at the solutions and not just solutions within like design and hotels, but actually looking at solutions and looking outside of the arena to kind of get inspiration from things like fashion or, or retail or other areas as well.


Hamish Kilburn:

What's inspiring me at the moment with our industry, I guess tech, you know, really how to seamlessly blend technology. I think we've kind of strayed away from the days from like 10 years ago when hotels just kind of vomited tech into The Hotel room. Now it has to be a lot more considered, I think, you know, hoteliers and designers have certainly got to that point where they're realizing that consumers are only there for a few days, maybe longer if it's a long stay, but it's, you know, tech has to be really easy to, to navigate as soon as you walk into a room. I mean, I think we've all had that experience where we've walked in, and we don't have to turn the lights on the blinds to open or the bathroom's going crazy as well. And it's just, I really feel as if the solutions at the moment are, are making the, the experience of hospitality more seamless and it's balancing that while also creating a, a comfortable environment as well.


Ryan Haynes:

Now I know we're going to have another podcast. Who, anybody listen you can check out the other podcast on Design Pod and Travel by Design Hamish's podcasts. Today, obviously we're focusing on Hotel Design, so publications. So, tell me a bit more about the audience. You said that, you know, it sorts of switched over into a bit of consumer, but what about the industry audience itself? What type of readers are you getting?


Hamish Kilburn:

Yeah, if I'm honest with you, I think, you know, the, the whole business to business terminology is, is a little bit dated. I think our audience, designers, architects, hoteliers, even developers, they, they're, they're time sensitive. you know, everyone these days, everyone's overworked, underpaid, and always looking for a solution, right? But I feel like our content needs to be educational as well as entertaining. And it, and certainly since I've become editor, I've very much tried to strike that balance with giving our audience something that they want to read. Not just that they have to read, you know, So, it doesn't just focus on this hotel's opening, or this is the latest, you know, development within this company. It really focuses on sort of questioning the design decisions and actually really trying to understand the design narrative behind the hotel. And I think that is what's connecting the audiences together between consumer and business.


Hamish Kilburn:

And at the end of the day, you know, we want our audience to pick up their phones and pick up their laptops when they're not at work to read our content. And that's what we're seeing within our analytics as well. So, we've just kind of worked on that trend. But to be honest with you, I would love to say that we've really studied the data, but these developments have just happened naturally. We find that, you know, even our awards that I know we're going to talk about, but even they have evolved over time and, and what we see-saw as a really awesome, original, unique idea, which I think personally is the key to anything in this industry, is to offer something that hasn't been done before.


Ryan Haynes:

I mean, it's fascinating. I've certainly seen a huge shift in the way that people are consuming content and the type of content that works and doesn't work. you know, we are always constantly thinking, you know, how do we title our podcasts and yeah, you know, what our audience actually accessing, and you know, how do you know who's actually listening? And I think most of the time, you know, for the publications it comes down to the database. It's, it's having a look at your followers on your LinkedIn because they're the ones who give you the clearest identity as to the titles that are actually sort of following you in the first place. But then you, you, when we talk about the topics of interest, hotel openings Sure. Technology, what are the ones that you actually, perhaps you, you've actually built a bit more content in and around in in the last few months because it's really getting that there, those visitors and the readers,


Hamish Kilburn:

Readers, I would definitely answer your question, but just for, just as well as that, as well as LinkedIn. I mean we are owned by an events company, and we've used that to our absolute benefit. So, we host events all the way through the year and that for us is the best qualitative research we can get in terms of understanding what our audience wants to hear about. One topic that, I mean comes up time and time again is sustainability. And that's, that's really tricky for us because we don't want greenwash, we don't want to celebrate greenwashing either. What I find really interesting from all the qualitative research that I've been able to collect is that our industry isn't sustainable. And I know that sounds real kind of like really sort of, I don’t know that's an intense sentence And, I feel like it needs explaining, but how can we call our industry sustainable?


Hamish Kilburn:

If I sit on a panel discussion and speak to a developer who tells me we're doing this, this, this and this, and then two days later I get a press release saying there are five Hotels opening in the next two years. Like building is not sustainable, but what we're able to do. And what I'm finding is a really interesting topic at the moment is really understanding how the design can be deeper and how it can become more meaningful for the consumer when looking at things like materiality when looking at things like keeping everything locally sourced. And it's interesting to me that making those really sensitive and conscious decisions that are good, better for the environment, not good, better for the environment, actually the real benefit comes down to the consumers.


Hamish Kilburn:

How the consumer is utilizing that space and experiencing that, that hotel and also just the general feeling of the interiors. And it's, that's interesting for me, I'm at the point now where I can genuinely say having cast my really wide lens over the industry, it's not sustainable. And I feel like it's okay to say that because actually when you look at the industry everyone's there to make money, of course, it's a business, and of course it is. That's not to say we can't do, do good or do better than what we have been doing in the past, but I think we can only move forward if we come to that realization. And that's kind of what I'm hearing from designers and architects and hearing from when we do our round tables, for example.


Ryan Haynes:

When it comes to being featured in Hotel Designs, what advice do you give to both hoteliers and suppliers?


Hamish Kilburn:

I think just honesty, like all we want to do really. I mean we're not sensational journalists. We want to find what, what's unique about the property with, if it's a project that they're putting forward, for example, we want to really understand, okay, so basically when I review a hotel or when I commission reviewing a hotel, there are three things that I'm looking at. Firstly, how is that hotel answering to its location and actually within the local sort of hospitality scene, how is that hotel standing out? And if that is because of the design or the design narrative, then I want to go in deeper. I also want to know who the designer is, but to be honest with you, that's less important cause we're not just going after the big shot designers, we just want to, we just want to unpick talent and yeah, so hotels that are challenging conventional approaches to, to what was done before is the, is the kind of easy answer to that, I guess.


Ryan Haynes:

Thank you. Now you've got a big, huge event coming up very soon and one that you're incredibly proud of the awards. Tell us about those for Hotel Designs.


Hamish Kilburn:

Yeah, so the awards are interesting. So, they started off at just being called the Britt List and we started profiling the top 25 hoteliers and the top 25 designers in the UK right now. And that's that quite quickly developed into, into also including architects on that list. So, it was a list of 75 and then, and then we all, we sort of introduced the individual awards. So now we have, for this year's campaign, we have 12 awards, and they include, I'm not going to go through all of them, but they include like interior design of the year, architect of the year, Hotelier of the year. But we absolutely keep the list going. And I think that's kind of been our bread and butter and, and why the industry kind of resonates with what we are doing in the UK at least.


Hamish Kilburn:

and we are an international audience, but in terms of our events, we're, we're, we're slowly growing internationally, but we've got a really strong network in the UK, and it just makes the event that much more interesting. The other thing that we did was we didn't want to do a sit-down dinner and we wanted to do something different, and our personalities were kind of more like straying towards the nightclub or straying towards the cabaret venue. So, we just kind of wanted to create an evening that is fun for everyone. There are no boundaries on who can network at our events. And that was really the, the, the starting block for it. And now it's just turned into this calendar event that, I mean, it's crazy Ryan honestly, it's like an all-night affair and then we have, obviously the awards are there as well, but I think the celebration becomes less on the, the individual winners obviously they receive their trophy and it's a big deal.


Hamish Kilburn:

But also, at that awards we unveiled the list, the Britt list So, it is a celebration for every, all, all the 75 people that have made it onto that list. And then we publish that list, and we do interviews and profiles with them and it's, it's a great research tool for me as well because all of a sudden, and they're free to enter as well. So obviously the revenue is generated from the sponsors who want to be part of it and be in the room with all of the movers and shakers. And that's just a really natural way to do it. It doesn't feel like we're being greedy at all. We're giving back to the audience, to the industry and actually, we're just able to amplify a fantastic year each year and every year through, the designer's lens and the architect's lens and the hospitality industry.


Hamish Kilburn:

It's, it's amazing. It really is. And I have to say it's not something that we planned to do it just evolved every year. And I think certainly because we are a website, but also maybe just because of our, our DNA, we are just, we are willing to evolve to the industry's needs that year. And what that's done is just allowed us to kind of grow this concept into something that at times now feels quite uncontrollable. It feels like we've created a bit of a monster, but it's so worth all of the time and effort that we put into it. So the


Ryan Haynes:

Publication can be found at www.hoteldesigns.net. Hamish, thanks ever so much for the insight into Hotel Designs today.


Hamish Kilburn:

Thanks, Ryan.


Ryan Haynes:

So that was Hamish Kilburn, the editor of Hotel Designs as part of our miniseries looking at the industry hospitality media. Hamish is going to be coming up and talking to us about his podcast as well. So, check out that episode in the podcast channel list. I'm your host, Ryan Haynes. Thanks for listening.

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