Hotel development teams that want to safeguard return on investment should think twice before scrapping these three space types from the building plan.
In this pandemic-afflicted period of increasing competition and reduced occupancy, hotel owners and operators struggle to find new ways to eke out additional revenue. Many hotels with spaces that differentiate their properties from those of competitors have managed to achieve this goal.
Well-designed, distinctive spaces can support socially distanced events, welcome the local community, and maybe even capitalize on a hotel’s surroundings to create a neighborhood hot spot.
The COVID-19 experience has given new insights to hotel developers, owners, operators, architects, interior designers, and builders. When planning for renovations or new construction, these hotel development teams should consider the high return on investment possibilities stemming from the following space types.
1. Multiuse Means More Activity
Many select service hotel floor plans tend to separate pre-function and meeting space from the restaurant and bar spaces. However, programming these uses with better adjacencies creates multifunctional zones resulting in a higher volume of use. Bonus: smart adjacencies promote lean operations and increase staff productivity.
Initial plans for Hyatt Place/Hyatt House East Moline/Quad Cities called for a club-like lounge with a pool table and a large TV. However, since the hotel houses two brands, the development team foresaw a greater return on investment if the room catered to not only extended-stay guests, but also to shorter-stay travelers. And considering the ninth-floor location of the space and the hotel’s adjacency to the Mississippi River, why not open the space to the surrounding community?
The result is The River Room, a full-service lounge and bar with seating options ranging from traditional table seating to sofas and club chairs. A dedicated elevator with direct access to the space reduces hotel lobby traffic, improves security, and lets community members know that they are welcome.
Since the hotel’s grand opening in December 2018, The River Room has served as a steady source of revenue. With its movable furniture, the space quickly adapts to different events: business meetings, showers, wedding receptions, and many others.
What is the secret of this multiuse space’s success? It fulfills an unmet need by creating an attractive retreat perched high above the river. It’s a place for locals to enjoy their surroundings and for visitors to see what the Quad Cities region of Illinois and Iowa is all about.
2. Hot Spots and Secrets: Outdoor Spaces
People have a natural desire to be outdoors, even during the winter months. Therefore, hotels that offer expanded outdoor space beyond a basic patio often reap positive results.
Unfortunately, when it comes to cutting costs during hotel project planning, outdoor spaces are often the first to get taken off the docket. Sometimes, owners pull outdoor space with the intention of adding it later . . . which rarely happens.
Before slashing that courtyard or rooftop terrace from the program, hotel development teams should think about this: outdoor spaces, especially those that connect to food and bar operations, not only create a differentiating factor to entice more guests, but also bring in local traffic for additional revenue.
For many hotels, the COVID-19 pandemic has revealed the value of outdoor spaces. When summer 2020 arrived, people felt pent up. They longed to get out . . . even if just for a drink and a bite to eat. What if a nearby hotel offered an elevated outdoor space with the vibe of a private club?
A strong example of a revenue-generating outdoor space can be found at Hyatt Place Chicago/Wicker Park, which opened in June 2020 just as the City of Chicago gave the green light for outdoor dining. Kennedy Rooftop, the hotel’s seventh-floor outdoor restaurant and bar with striking views of downtown Chicago, quickly became a hot spot for the trendy Wicker Park neighborhood. Nonguests take one of three ground-level elevators directly to the sky lobby, then step onto the terrace. There they find a vast assortment of patrons ranging from businesspeople who’ve traveled halfway around the world to locals who’ve walked or ridden their bikes.
According to Ron Wilson, CEO of Hotel Investment Services, Inc., profitable expansion of outdoor spaces in a post-pandemic world means more than just a small patio with a firepit. “I think for years to come, outdoor space will be a key sales feature as a backup space if this ever happens again,” he said. “Also, people have gotten used to doing functions outside and they like it.”
Roof decks can also expand and enliven event space to make it more attractive for those seeking an event venue . . . and even more so when social distancing is an issue.
The rendering above exemplifies a secure outdoor roof deck that expands second-floor event space. The deck offers two kinds of radiant heaters and a motorized canopy that will enable the Midwestern hotel to extend its al fresco season.
3. Embrace the Street
When purse strings are particularly tight, a smaller, strategically placed outdoor space can help create additional revenue by encouraging activity at the street level.
Hyatt Place Cleveland/Westlake/Crocker Park, for instance, features an outdoor space that extends into a walkway illuminated by catenary lighting. Inspired by Australia’s vehicle-free laneways, this extension has an artsy vibe and creates a visual connection between the inside and outside of the hotel.
Another revenue-producing option: using food and beverage offerings to entice passersby at street level. A concept for Hyatt Place – Foundry Place in New Hampshire features a colorful Stay Grounded café that backs up to the sidewalk. An operable glazed wall opens or closes depending on the weather.
Outside Never Closes
Hotels with distinctive outdoor spaces have found additional revenue amid the COVID-19 pandemic. There will, however, come a time when the pandemic stops. That will not change people’s innate desire to spend time outdoors. They will be more inclined to patronize hotels that offer attractive, active outdoor areas.
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