By Chelsea Madden
When hotels and meeting venues are planning and prioritizing their property improvements,the big question is where to spend the money to produce the greatest reward. What will achieve the most bang for the buck, or the best return on investment?
Return on investment (ROI) means how – and how quickly – properties recoup the cost of a purchase or endeavor. It can mean simply increased revenue following the particular investment. ROI even can be measured by a boost in staff morale, which can save money. In a fresh, revitalized environment, staff are likely to be more motivated and productive in performing their jobs, projecting more positive engagement with each other and their guests. Renovation creates buzz and differentiates a property from its competition, which heightens public awareness and impact on existing clients, return guests, the length and frequency of their visits, and guest referrals.
Effective design in mind
Professional interior designers assist property owners with educated decisions, and help them prioritize the many projects ahead. Whether a facility is concerned with space planning, redefining the purpose of a space, knowledge of various product options, or replacement costs and product life cycles, good design saves money. Good designers think about more than just beautiful spaces using color, textures and forms. They consider functionality, budgets, performance, brand standards and the total guest experience. Designers acknowledge that behind-the-scenes improvements such as HVAC upgrades are essential to comfortable environments, and they work in tandem with the effective design of spaces.
Space planning is about more than furniture placement. It’s about revenue, guest engagement, and attracting return visitors. Th e lobby is an area all guests pass through multiple times to go to their rooms, the pool, restaurants and conference spaces. To create “Wow!” impact as guests enter the lobby, a designer might consider spending $10,000 on a beautiful oversized sculpture. Other ROI-conscious options would be to create an attractive beverage bar, and provide comfortable lounge seating, café tables and chairs. These spaces invite guests to purchase coffee in the morning, a signature drink or snack in the evening – and linger in the hotel rather than leaving in search of the same.
Guest rooms are another key area properties look at when designing for ROI. Technology is a driving factor in modern hotel design. However, adding the latest, 50-function television to every guest room in may not be the best way to spend budget dollars when most guests just want to watch TV in comfort with the same channels they have at home. It’s a good idea for facilities to off er the luxury of extra technology in just a small percentage of designated rooms. Th is allows them to cater to the client who values these amenities enough to pay a premium for them.
From walls to floors
ROI design also allows hotels and venues to make smart choices with products. Paint is probably one of the least expensive design elements one can use for impact in a space, but it can be one of the most effective in creating atmosphere. Labor is often the more costly part of a painting project; 80% of most budgets go to the preparation and application of the paint. With ROI in mind, properties can choose a long-lasting, durable paint that may have a higher upfront cost. With more durable paint, they will save the time and cost of repainting.
Th ere are many paints to choose from; one key factor facilities should know about is “abrasion cycle count.” Th e higher the abrasion number, the better the paint will withstand cleaning and wear. For quick reference, most latex paints pass approximately 200 to 550 abrasion cycles; acrylic paints, 2,000; epoxy paints, 2,000; and polyurethane-based paints, 8,000. Lambert-St. Louis International Airport recently used a white polyurethane paint in its baggage claim area. Th is demonstrates the high performance and durability this type of paint offers.
Flooring and carpet are other areas where smart design decisions provide good ROI. Carpet is often required by brand standards based on color, design options, softness, and sound absorption. A carpet product made with premium nylon 6,6 fiber allows high stain resistance, easy cleaning and use of stronger cleaning agents. Properties will see less traffic-pattern wear, and excellent crush resistance, with this type of product.
Keeping the planet in mind
“Green,” eco-friendly design projects, including those that are LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified, have been hot topics in the past decade. Many hotel brands have shown a commitment to the environment and the welfare of future generations of guests.
Lighting is a bright place where facilities can begin their green efforts and maximize return on investment. Switching to LED light sources in existing fixtures may cost more at purchase, but properties don’t need to change the lamps as frequently, and utility bills can be lowered.
LEED projects are taking a growing market share, so it’s a good idea for hotels and event venues to climb aboard this effort. Technology allows for innovative replacement of all shapes and sizes of light sources and other fixtures. And more choices are being added and improved on every day.
Designers love creating enhanced spaces, and even more so, they love seeing spaces succeed for their clients. It’s all about getting them the best return on their investments while catering to the guest experience.
Chelsea Madden is a project manager with St. Louis-based Design Extra LLC.