Panel at the TourInvest Forum with Stella Cadente and Florian Claudel of Stella Cadente, Jean-Luc Guermonprez of Vinci Immobilier and Alain Tayar of Bouygues Bâtiments Ile-de-France.
The creation of experiences for customers who need to be enchanted and whose loyalty must be enhanced more and more, has become an important lever. We are witnessing explosions of creativity. Designers now dare to use not only colors, but also shapes and sensations. New concepts are being developed at a frenetic pace. We see new brands emerge every year. Major luxury brands are particularly reliant on the hotel industry to create shrines to the art of living. And some economy concepts flirt with what the offerings of more upscale ones. It is true that the design has never been so generous. How far will it go?
Alain TAYAR, Deputy CEO, Bouygues Bâtiment Ile-de-France: "A few years ago, I could have defined design by the wow effect experienced when entering a building. Today, the trends and evolution of the hotel product are changing very quickly because they adhere to social issues and the rules of the digital world. So for me, the definition of design today is how the hotel works. From its front door to its exit door. It's a real loop. This is the path and route that the guest will take upon entering this destination. So the design hotel business is really encompasses 100% of what you can find in a hotel."
Stella CADENTE, Creator, Stella Cadente: "I fully share this vision. Often we are reduced to this function of "Make us something beautiful". In design, decoration comes next. It is secondary to the customer experience, to this impression and atmosphere. There are issues of flow, comfort and partitions. For us, all this is really part of the entire design brief. In concrete terms, design includes olfactory and sound design, as well as the uniform (or not) and the staff's speech. Design goes as far as marketing."
Jean-Luc GUERMONPREZ, Deputy Managing Director of the Hotels Division, VINCI Immobilier: "For me, the two most important elements are the customer experience and the service provided by the hotel operator. As a promoter, design depends on the concept and the brief that you give to a designer. Are we talking about design? Are we talking about decoration? Are we talking about interior design? It all depends on the mission you entrust to a designer. For us, these three terms encompass everything that can be asked of a decorator, everything that architecture does not do, and what makes it possible to convey the operator's concept and what will become the hotel's soul to the guest.
At what point do the people who will manage a project's design intervene? What are the different scenarios?
Jean-Luc GUERMONPREZ, Deputy Managing Director of the Hotels Division, VINCI Immobilier: "There are several scenarios. We work with all types of decorators and designers. It depends on how they get to an operation. We are working on the Kimpton operation with three decorators who were chosen after consultation. In other transactions, particularly with franchisees, it is the franchisee that chooses the decorator. We also have decorators we can choose ourselves. We often do this with Jean-Philippe Nuel, with whom we worked when he first started. The difficulty for us is to know when to involve the decorator, knowing that our job and our skills are to deliver turnkey projects. We have noticed that when the operator or the final investor arrives, they want to have their say on the final decoration. This is why we need to produce and design a flexible project that can be adapted."
Alain TAYAR, Deputy CEO, Bouygues Bâtiment Ile-de-France: "I wouldn't add anything, everything has been said. Except for my perception: I remain firmly convinced that the hotel industry is in the midst of change. It is completing a cycle. So the interior design cycle is ending. Design really must be about the customer experience. I think that the earlier we involve the people who define the "hotel" function and who will define the desired comfort, through the range, through touch and visuals. The sooner we can bring this atmosphere to the hotel, the closer we can bring it to perfection and the more sought-after it will be by the person who orders it. Finally, let us not forget one thing: a hotel has a purpose that goes beyond pleasing, beyond being a design object. Its objective is to earn money and keep the economy going. This good will can only be achieved if there is a real analysis of function that is made as early on as possible. I really think that in our professions, we must integrate this notion of design and go beyond the boundaries of interior design."
Florian CLAUDEL, Associate Director, Stella Cadente: "The idea is truly to find a design that corresponds but functions directly with the operational."
The designer is not just there to fill the space, but already by defining flow and volume. The designer has a role to play starting at the beginning with the architecture.
Jean-Luc GUERMONPREZ, Deputy Managing Director of the Hotels Division, VINCI Immobilier: "The boundary is tenuous and we often have to deal with battles either between missions or egos with the architect, who tends to take over the property, including design, although it is not their job. But the designer's contribution is important, especially if they know how to listen to the operator, as they have a very strong role to play in functionality. It is the designer who designs all that is inside the box with the client."
Stella CADENTE, Creator, Stella Cadente: "Precisely. I re-emphasize the notion of the brief, which is very important for us. The more information we have about the investor's expectations beforehand, the better we can respond. The alignment of all those working on the project must be complete. We've only had positive experiences. We have never encountered this problem."
Care must be taken not to exceed construction and delivery timings. I imagine that if tastes and colors don't match, you do your best to ensure that it doesn't depart from the original schedule.
Florian CLAUDEL, Associate Director, Stella Cadente: "In general, this doesn't happen because we take all the useful information from the client. It is our job to know how to interpret and translate the needs of the client, whatever they may be."
Jean-Luc GUERMONPREZ, Deputy Managing Director of the Hotels Division, VINCI Immobilier: "To answer your question, tastes and colors are not too serious. We know how to switch easily. What is serious is all that the customer does not necessarily see, everything that happens in the background in terms of technology, high current, low current, etc. We can always go back, but that becomes a financial and opening date problem. Our job is to anticipate and maintain maximum flexibility right to the end.
Is it possible to give an idea of cost for design? How much does it represent in the overall budget?
Alain TAYAR, Deputy CEO, Bouygues Bâtiment Ile-de-France: "Depending on the range, particularly in luxury, which is our preferred field, I would only mention what Coco Channel once told us: "In luxury, the product remains and the price is forgotten." So there is no notion of price. We talked about interior design a few years ago, today we talk about design. We're all a bit of a designer. The first remains the investor, the second is his hotelier, the third is the architect and the fourth is the interior designer. Design today is really 100% of the hotelier's cost. What is needed is to choose the right cursor. Are we going to focus more on technology, IT, lighting, home automation or balancing costs? If you mean visible finishes, it's about 40% of the investment cost."
What are today's design trends?
Stella CADENTE, Creator, Stella Cadente: "These trends are not specific to the hotel industry; they are transversal to all universes. If we talk about organic, whoever pays attention to what they eat will be interested to know how the chair was made, if staff are treated well, if the housekeepers have decent salaries... Once again, the strongest trend, after the wow effect that we had in the 1990s, is to use instagrammable products. There are some things, of course, that can be disappointing. But what matters most is the experience, the emotion, the comfort and the pleasure. Content is regaining its place in relation to the visual effect. There is a logic that follows the whole. If you are in a highly vegetated area, you will expect food to tend towards vegan, organic or fair trade products. When staff speak, it must be in keeping with this line of thought. Everything is connected and the trend is almost for truth. We are returning to a form of haute couture in the relationship between the hotelier and the designer. The hotel is not a completely isolated bubble inside a neighborhood. On the contrary, the hotel is in the neighborhood and the neighborhood is in the hotel. Their interaction is important."
Florian CLAUDEL, Associate Director, Stella Cadente: "Another big change we have noticed in recent years is that life within the hotel is much more concentrated in the common areas."
Alain TAYAR, Deputy CEO, Bouygues Bâtiment Ile-de-France: "At Le Crillon, we have totally different atmospheres because we used five designers. We have 140 rooms, about ten signature suites and 60 suites, there is not one that looks like another. There are really different experiences and models. The artistic direction has created lines of union, of spaces within spaces, to make these jewel boxes relay the spirit of Paris. We are really into French art, and the French exception and know-how. When you enter the Crillon, you have the impression of entering the home of a local. In Paris, in the heart of the city. And you feel at ease right away, without feeling like you're going into a hotel that's watching you and spying on you."
Jean-Luc GUERMONPREZ, Deputy Managing Director of the Hotels Division, VINCI Immobilier: "Operators in the economy and mid-range segment are investing much more in design than they did many years ago. A very good example is what we did with Motel One. Particular attention was paid to the design of the common areas and thus giving it a much more upscale image than the hotel really is. Another trend is that Motel One does the design itself. They manage this part of the creation internally, by requesting a brief from a local artist. An artist named Madame Moustache, who does street art, provided them with a concept that they developed."
The tendency is to give more surface area to common areas, which are very sophisticated living spaces, to the detriment of the square meters in the rooms.
Jean-Luc GUERMONPREZ, Deputy Managing Director of the Hotels Division, VINCI Immobilier: "We adapt to new uses and customs by having more living spaces where customers may gather, rather than staying locked up in our rooms. The job of the decorator or designer is to be able to highlight specific areas of a hotel."
Stella CADENTE, Creator, Stella Cadente: "Although we may be able to sleep in a Motel One, that doesn't mean we can't have dinner at Le Crillon. Today, in the same way in fashion, we might go buy a skirt at Zara's with a Chanel bag, we're going to play with the wallet and unleash minds. Once upon a time, a high-end American tourist who sleeps at Le Crillon would not be caught in a brewery at the Bastille. Today, codes are mixed.
There are properties in destinations that, for some, have become destinations in their own right. Now, different room ranges are available within a single property. And the rooms themselves can become a destination. So how far does it go? Do we personalize to the point of strong themes?
Jean-Luc GUERMONPREZ, Deputy Managing Director of the Hotels Division, VINCI Immobilier: "For our part, we do not thematize so strongly, because it is at odds with the management of a chain or an operator. We try to thematize when we have several decorators or in accordance with the wishes of the operator. However, we found that the stronger the theme, the shorter the lifetime of the concept. But this is decided by the customer and the market.
Alain TAYAR, Deputy CEO, Bouygues Bâtiment Ile-de-France: "Indeed, the personalization of room unit complicates the composition of a budget equation. On the other hand, it is important in the final product. It can be done by two means: personalization through the hotel service. Unfortunately or fortunately, big data, combined with home automation technology, makes it possible to obtain the memory sequence of a guest's habits in a room. Thus it allows him, when he returns to the hotel, to find the same lighting atmosphere he left behind. It is a way of personalizing, without necessarily generating additional investment because it is only necessary to program the home automation devices planned from the outset. Then there is the service. We were talking earlier about the design that extended to the service of the hotelier. Personalization, too, is through service. A "Hello, Mr. Tayar" when you return is a way to personalize the hotel. For many hotels, it's "Hello, Sir"."
Is it possible to outbid all this creativity? Do you have any ideas or trends about what the hotel of tomorrow will be like?
Stella CADENTE, Creator, Stella Cadente: "There are a lot of ideas. There is a lot to do. It is true that we are only at the beginning of the transformation of hotels. Everything has yet to be built within the realm of possibilities. With people travelling more and more around the world."
Jean-Luc GUERMONPREZ, Deputy Managing Director of the Hotels Division, VINCI Immobilier: "The hotel of tomorrow is the one where design and service will make it possible to personalize the customer's welcome. It will be a hotel where spaces for living and sharing will be more important than private spaces, and change will be ever more rapid."
Alain TAYAR, Deputy CEO, Bouygues Bâtiment Ile-de-France: "The hotel of tomorrow is one that will work. But it can only work if it is able to adapt. Beyond design and personality, there is a trend that we are seeing in our products that is modularity. The builders of the Middle Ages built for 100 years, today we build for 5 years. This was true for office buildings a few years ago, and it is now becoming true for hotel properties. Those who succeed will give their design space modularity, and ephemeral and temporary use. And the change in habits in the very use of the hotel, I think will quickly reflect the codes of tomorrow's hotel."
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