With public healthcare in the spotlight like never before, the Covid-19 pandemic is challenging hoteliers to rethink the entire guest experience. Here we hear from Harris Jackson on the role of surface design…
From bringing the outside in to focusing on building a sense of community, wellness is high on the agenda for many brands as they look for new ways to connect with their customers and rebuild trust. And for good reason – according to a variety of data, consumer trust is at an all-time low.
Last year a study by End of Tenancy Cleaning Company, which surveyed almost 2,000 British travellers, found that 50 per cent of people do not trust hotel hygiene and over a third would avoid international travel for the next 12 months. Almost half of the people surveyed also said they would clean a hotel room themselves before using it. Research like this demonstrates the lack of confidence guests currently have and just how important safety and security is as a key message.
There are many ways hoteliers can respond to this and instil a sense of trust far beyond placing hand sanitisers in lobbies and installing perspex screens in the reception area. One way to elevate the customer experience and improve health and safety is through the design of surfaces.
Form and function
Beautiful design is about more than aesthetics, it’s about responding to customer needs and the current climate. There are a number of surface trends to look out for in 2021 (and beyond) that explore both form and function; sustainability, ventilation, flexibility and connecting to nature are all taking centre stage alongside technology that can improve public health.
Wellbeing is at the top of the agenda when it comes to design and we have seen this impact design trends before. In 1918, influenza impacted design by throwing more emphasis on light and air, and more minimal interiors (with heavier more cluttered interiors thought to be unhygienic). And now due to Covid-19 we are going to see another shift. It’s long been known that the surfaces we interact with can be transmitters for bacteria and some, such as E.Coli, can last for months on surfaces.
So how can hoteliers invest in surface technology to improve public health and the overall guest experience?
It can purify air
Some technologies are focusing on purifying air, such as Pureti’s photocatalytic applications. It utilises the natural process of plants. As well as purifying air it can also be applied to surfaces to help them stay cleaner for longer. Apparently this treatment has even been used by NASA! We know that air quality is so important for guest comfort and with many people seeking out less urban environments and a stronger connection to nature, technology like this could have far reaching benefits.
Texture can limit transmission
The texture of surfaces can play a key role in not only the aesthetics of a room but in helping to eliminate viral transmission of bacteria. The Imperial College London looked at different textures and coatings and found that copper surfaces provide antibacterial protection, killing 99.9 per cent of bacteria within two hours. This raises some interesting ideas around materials used throughout the hotel environment, especially within heavy traffic areas such as lobbies and doorways.
Fabrics for more than comfort
New technology extends past hard surfaces and covers soft furnishings too; Aguaguard365 is an example of an antibacterial protection system for fabrics that helps keep textiles free of bacteria. From bed linens to towels, technology is constantly evolving.
So as travel restrictions begin to lift and consumers consider staying away from home again, it’s clear that surface technology can do more than just elevate appearance – it can help to instil trust and boost confidence, something that’s crucial in the current climate.
Since you’re here, why not read Harris Jackson’s article on bringing the outside in & reconnecting with nature?
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Main image credit: Harris Jackson