Attending “A Design Dialog” featuring Julia Monk — HOK’s Director of Hospitality based in Hong Kong — and Tom Polucci — HOK’s Director of Interiors based in New York City was a solid choice. The enlightening conversation, moderated by IIDA Deputy Director and SVP John Czarnecki, ended too quickly. And, Ligne Roset’s beautiful showroom provided a serene space on the frenetic first day of NeoCon.
The conversation began with Julia Monk outlining the evolution of travel. Starting from a place of conspicuous consumption, displaying one’s wealth and income was central to travel and was the measure to guide travel decisions. This trend evolved into conscientious travel where travelers were more selective in their choices. Conscientious travel evolved into experiential — the purpose of which was “to do.” And today, the intention of travel is thought to be a transformational experience. Travelers are looking to make a change in their lives as a result of their journeys.
Also discussed was how hotel ownership addresses the evolving tastes of its guests through design of its spaces. For instance, historically, the hotel lobby had been a place to pass through long enough to register or perhaps read the morning paper while waiting for travel companions. Today, a lobby’s function has evolved to be the heart of the hotel, much like the kitchen is the heart of a home. Newspapers, if not absent completely, are now accompanied by outlets scattered throughout the space for travelers to keep current with emails, texts and social media posts while charging their devices. And, rather than relying solely on restaurant spaces, evolved hotels offer food and beverage options in the lobby.
Relevant Hospitality Collection’s key takeaway from this session is that travel preferences change over time. And, those hotels which adapt and stay relevant, are those who prosper, much like in life.