As the hospitality sector lent a helping hand to frontline workers and those impacted by COVID-19 in the past months, a heightened level of hygiene and social distancing is expected to remain an aim to adapt to current realities on the ground.
Technology has been a gamechanger for the industry, introducing contactless check-in and menus.
“It existed and it wasn’t associated with luxury,” said Prodipto Ghosh, Senior Associate Director at CRTKL, on Day Two of Cityscape's Real Estate Summit 2020. “But now, it has become the norm.”
Architects and planners will need to start looking at the full equation and work with operators to be mindful of the realities that the industry faces.
“Because whether we like it or not, there will be permanent changes,” said Kourosh Salehi, MENA Design Director at LWK + Partners. “The branding and global major operators have realised there are different ways of doing business and a lot of small operators have come up, but it must be a much more holistic way of designing.”
Scale will matter, going forward, as he believes more boutique offers are on the horizon. “Staycations have been interesting,” he added. “But most glamping sites are full because they have a unique offer in the sense that it’s a bit more personalised.”
The design and creative industry will need to be more mindful of an end-user that has become more sophisticated.
“The future is quite exciting for designers” Salehi said.
A change in mindset has taken place among consumers, with hotels previously viewed as sanctuaries. Today, they are considered a potential health hazard. A second shift experts also see happening is greater flexibility in the building design itself and the ability to expand living spaces.
Brian Johnson, Managing Partner at GAJ, predicts consumers will look for a more holistic approach, giving the example of connecting with nature. “It’s a slight change of emphasis,” he said. “But the hotel industry never sits still, whether post or during the pandemic.”
Rather than a complete overhaul of the industry, the expectations are more geared towards adaptation.
“It’s about marketing that contactless experience, that safety comes first,” said Sidharth Mehta, Audit Partner and Head of Real Estate and Construction at KPMG. “It’s a wait and watch but we are much more optimistic than we were two months back.”