Putting heads in beds: It’s the objective of hotel operators, and has been for years. However, that goal is accomplished differently today than it was in the past. Even the most lackluster facilities used to attract guests, but those days are over. “Especially within the past 10 or 15 years, people are much more conscious of design and the quality of the space and experience,” explains Ron Kollar, chief design officer, Tishman Hotel Corp., New York City.

Catering to more savvy consumers, hospitality facilities strive to perfect the product-market match in order to remain competitive. “The hotel franchise systems are vying with each other to lure customers,” says Bill Steckroth, president, Steckroth Hospitality Group Inc., Boca Raton, FL.

Now, more than ever, hotels must offer amenities and designs that cater to multiple generations. Both older customers (Baby Boomers) and younger, Gen-X travelers have high expectations. As a result, high-tech guestrooms are becoming the norm rather than the exception. “Thirty years ago, ‘Magic Fingers’ was the technology. Today, you have Internet access, wireless environments, flat-screen TVs on the walls, and not only faxes, but two-line phones. [Guestrooms are] as much a workplace as a sleeping space,” explains Kollar.

The widespread adoption of technology by the public is dramatically impacting how hotels are designed, built, operated, and used. The proliferation of laptop computers (often with wireless capability) is changing where and how guests connect to the Internet. Technology is even affecting the size and layout of guestrooms. “Flat-screen or plasma TVs in upscale and luxury hotels will provide the opportunity to make rooms narrower and to change the space-allocation model for hotels,” says Richard H. Penner, professor, hospitality facilities and operations, Cornell University School of Hotel Administration, Ithaca, NY. Rather than reducing the size of guestrooms, some experts feel that the absence of a bulky armoire will provide a more spacious room and greater opportunities to enhance the guests’ experience.

In the past, hotels often allocated the same space for guestrooms with King beds as rooms with two Double beds. “More recently, most of the brands are keeping the [rooms with two Double beds] about the same size, and have found that they can enlarge the bathroom or save on construction costs if they make the King bedroom a little smaller,” says Penner.

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