Jane Lawrence, Interior Design Director from Conran & Partners, travelled to Venice to moderate a debate on the future of hotels – and unearthed some interesting conclusions.
If you were looking for architectural debate and inspiration Venice was definitely the place to be a couple of weeks ago, with the Venice Biennale of Architecture in full swing and, across the water, the International Hotel Conference at the Hilton Molino Stucky opening its doors to delegates from all over the world.
The conference was well attended – and managed to achieve a really informal atmosphere with lots going on, including two cocktail parties where much interaction and debate took place.
I also attended a dinner party hosted by one of the hoteliers, at a waterside restaurant on the Zattere.
The event does tend to be quite European/US -centric – it would be good to see more representation from the Asian sector; however the delegates that did attend represented a good cross section of disciplines involved with the hotel industry.
The title of the debate was Hotel 2025: Next generation design and technology – A look at the cutting edge design, technology and architecture that may find its way into your next hotel construction or renovation.
I was moderating a group of 5 hotel experts including; hoteliers, entrepreneurs, architects and technology specialists – a good indication of who attended the conference.
Several key themes emerged during the debate that kept the conversation very lively.
Communication and Personalisation presented itself as being very important in the minds of today’s hotel customers with a number of people seeing a future where everything in your room is controlled by an iPhone and the space is tailored to your own requirements.
On the flip side many delegates considered the importance of a more personalised, face to face approach requiring better concierge services and higher levels of customer service.
All very interesting but it was up to me to make sure Design as a topic remained on the agenda – not just the functional aspects of hotels of the future.
The changing role of the lobby in a world of growing ‘Global Nomads’ was one that particularly interested me – with all-day cafes and the proliferation of WiFi people are now using lobbies as multifunctional, long-term venues and an alternative to their bedroom, especially for those among us who simply can’t wait to get out of a room that isn’t our own!
Check out Part 2 tomorrow to hear more conclusions from the debate…