Imagining the hotel of the future as a communal space

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The hotel of the future is not about robotic concierges or a room full of high-tech gadgets to control lights and blinds. Instead, it’s about experiences. Hoteliers are adapting and designing their spaces to accommodate travelers’ new habits, increasingly blurring the lines between hospitality, retail and entertainment.

The rise of AirBnB has proven that travelers want a different type of lodging. One where they can experience a holiday destination like a local, or one to serve as a remote office for a period of time. This is pushing hoteliers to create spaces that encompass a multitude of experiences beyond traditional concepts.

Fluid, communal spaces

Last year, Skift wrote we should, “expect to see even more emphasis on communal areas, as well as on spaces and experiences that bring people together”. The experience of a home stay can sometimes be isolating, which gives hotels a distinct advantage over services like AirBnb. Hotels can take the role of being a real community fixture as they offer a place where travelers can gather with other travelers or locals, for instance, at the lobby or the bar.

With emphasis on communal areas, co-living and co-working are becoming a trend in hospitality. Hotels are adding formal co-working spaces, showrooms for retail brands, and creating immersive entertainment centers.

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The spaces in a hotel need to be flexible and adaptable to accommodate a multitude of experiences. Think of office space. Traditionally offices and hotels would have been clearly separated, usually on different floors. Now the office may be inside the hotel, with lobbies serving as co-working spaces. Hoteliers are becoming smarter about designing their spaces to cater for the remote worker.

Hotels are taking the concept of “mixed use” to another level.

Retail and entertainment

As part of a community-centered approach, hotel lobbies are beginning to be perceived as a retail hotspot. Instead of just selling a bunch of postcards and random souvenirs, lobbies can offer a unique retail experience. There, a micro boutique may pop up with items from local designers or a mini bookstore could offer a carefully-curated collection.

The move goes beyond a little shop in the lobby though. Major retail brands are entering into hospitality and opening their own branded hotels. Versace has luxury properties in Australia and in Dubai, where Armani also has a hotel.

Besides extending a brand’s reach and loyalty, non-traditional brands entering the hospitality space is an indication of how hotels take a role of being a community center-point for not only entertainment, but also brand awareness on a larger and more interactive scale.