Guests must always come first

Guests must always come first

In my last blog I wrote about a spotlight positioned just above the bedhead in my guestroom, which ? although intended to be a stylish design element ? dazzled my eyes and created a terribly uncomfortable glare. 

Flying home ? almost asleep and drifting in and out of dreams ? a question popped into my mind. Can the creation of hotel interiors really be considered a specific branch of design, like, for example, retail and graphic design?

I also couldn’t stop thinking about why small practices are “celebrities” within the architecture and design scene yet our office, while known for being the largest firm in Germany, is certainly not identified as a design star (although we’ve won several awards).

Somehow in my daze I came to the conclusion that we might not be real designers ? at least not what designers should be in order to become famous.

And so my dreaming brain raised the question: What special qualifications are required for our profession? I know it might sound a bit obvious, but I believe that qualified hotel designers should love guests more than they love their egos. The needs of travelers must be more important than a designer’s desire for self-fulfilment and recognition as a trendsetter or as an artist who is completely free from anything other than personal inspiration.

Of course as hotel designers we should also be able to create environments that naturally flow together and have a cohesive scheme, but what really sets us apart from “decorators” is our understanding of the functional needs of a hotel and its maintenance. The key necessity for successful designers is that we never forget for whom we are making these efforts: the guest! We have to engage with hotel users and develop our internal “antenna,” or intuition, to identify what elements will bring them pleasure.

Designers must enjoy being with people; we have to like hotel guests and think about what would make them happy, comfortable, excited and so on. While current trends and cutting-edge design are important, our first priority must always be to use design as a tool for providing guests with a positive impression of the hotel.

So, do “star” designers with a trendy or “signature” style put their personal needs above those of the guests? Certainly a hotel created with the primary intention of satisfying guests is more likely to remain consistently popular than one that caters to the designer’s whims but ignores functionality and the comfort of those who stay there.