Hotel Designs’ editor Hamish Kilburn was joined on the Hotel Vision Stage at Independent Hotel Show Amsterdam by Zoku’s founder Hans Meyer and Concrete’s director Rob Wagemans to discuss whether designers and hoteliers should be designing for ‘bleisure’ in mind…
Day one at the Independent Hotel Show Amsterdam concluded with an engaging panel discussion, entitled Designing For Bleisure’ that aimed to disrupt the conventional hotel experience.
“A recent survey carried out by Great Hotels of The World found that 75 per cent of business travellers had extended their trips for leisure purposes,” editor Hamish Kilburn shared with the audience over on the Hotel Vision stage to kick-start the discussion. “What’s more is that in 2017, 2.2 million bleisure trips took place – that’s 10 per cent of all business trips.”
Joining Kilburn for the live debate was Rob Wagemans, the founder and director of Concrete and Hans Meyer, the founder and director of Zoku. “I actually disagree slightly with he whole ‘leisure’ terminology,” said Wagemans. “I think our industry needs to be really cautious not to package trends in this way, because it can really strip the creative process. Instead, I believe that we should be designing spaces around people and their demands.”
One man who arguably understands more than anyone what his guests require when checking in is Meyer, who spent six months ‘living like his guests’ in order to identify exactly how he should design his first property, which was Zoku Amsterdam. “I do agree with Rob,” he said. “I can’t stress enough how important it is to understand your demographic before designing or creating anything. When we designed Zoku, I lived like my target audience for six months to not just understand from a top level what would engage our guests, but also to experience what our guests want from a hotel. The brand was formed around what was lacking in the industry.”
Wagemans, who was a visionary behind many of the CitizenMs and a handful of W Hotels around the world, believes it is the responsibility of innovators in order to create better working spaces in hotels that are designed to last. “There are many times – too many times to count – where I have received a brief from a client, thrown it in the bin and presented something different to them,” he said. “But everything I present to a client has been thoughtfully considered to help the overall guest experience. Of course, we work towards the client’s goals, but we are also delivering a service.”
The trio went on to discuss the idea and concept of opening up the guestrooms to be more than just a bed for the night. “Will there ever come the day when the guest room in urban hotels will be used for meetings,” kilburn asked. “We actually have this already in the guestrooms at Zoku,” explained Meyer. “All areas have been created with emphasis on living and working so that the guest rooms are what you want them to be to an extent.”Wagemans, who actually designed Zoku Amsterdam with Meyer, added: “It’s about creating areas that flow into other areas. It’s down to us, designers and architects, to work with hoteliers in order to challenge what is conventional – that’s very much how we work.”
The session went on to highlight some interesting solutions, encouraging the audience to work outside the box in order to come up with new ideas. It explored how designers, hoteliers and architects alike can innovate the industry and their hotels by presenting practical working spaces. “I don’t take inspiration from other hotels necessarily, but more from other industries entirely,” added Wagemans.
As bleisure trends continue to be on the rise, it is down to the industry to figure out how best to invent new spaces that are practical, flexible and built with people in mind.
The Independent Hotel Show Amsterdam continues…
Hotel Designs is a proud media partner of Independent Hotel Show Amsterdam. Continuing this topic further, Hotel Designs will be with Great Hotels of The World at Hotel Summit to further discuss how to increase revenue by utilising on blesiure trends.