Contributing Expert: Nikki Ojer
As we continue to travel through the unknown landscape of COVID-19, perspectives are continually shifting. There is much uncertainty surrounding both short and long-term solutions to keep guests and staff safe in public environments.
For the hospitality market specifically, hotel owners are tasked with a more daunting problem than restaurants or retail spaces might face. How do we help hotel guests feel more comfortable while they are away from their homes during a pandemic?
We are observing changes in the design of hotel public spaces to overcome concerns with social distancing, hand hygiene, airflow, and proper sanitation.
Broader entry points promote proper distancing as guests enter and exit the lobby. Upon entering the lobby, a handwashing ritual is encouraged. The built-in wash stations are entirely touchless, making them more sanitary and conveniently located right at the lobby's entry.
For guests entering with luggage that may have been traveling through multiple airports, using UV light may also help sanitize their belongings. UV light compartments are entirely enclosed, protecting us from the harmful rays while cleansing the bags in a few seconds before guests bring them to their rooms.
Front desks remain, so guests still have the comfort of talking to someone upon their arrival. Clear acrylic barriers offer protection against airborne pathogens, and mobile check-in options are available for those who don’t want to check-in in person.
With the CDC’s guidelines for eliminating buffets and self-service dining, hotels must rethink how they provide their guests with food and beverage options. Grab-and-go markets, pre-packaged meals in smart lockers, and wellness areas are on the rise.
Pre-packaged snacks, meals, and drinks are still provided in the lobby’s markets, but with more distancing in mind. We also see trends with food lockers – digital lockers placed in the lobby and filled with pre-made meals or made-to-order food, so guests have less contact than a restaurant or room service has. Guests place their order or select their meals at the locker, receive a code to open it and enjoy the meal in their room or at seating in the lobby.
The traditional lobby’s self-serving coffee and tea areas are being replaced with coffee bars, staffed with baristas to make guests drinks to reduce contamination. In the evening, the coffee bar can be transformed into a cocktail bar. Touchless water dispensers are also being incorporated into lobby spaces to eliminate single-use water bottles, generate less contamination, and provide cold, clean water in your own bottle.
Proper airflow is essential for maintaining healthy air quality in public spaces. We expect to see more multi-purpose lobby spaces with indoor-outdoor areas, individual hangout pods for work or lounging, and small group areas for families. The indoor-outdoor spaces give an open flow and improves ventilation, which is crucial for maintaining healthy environments.
Hotel owners may consider updating HVAC systems for better air quality and adding new cleaning regimens with mobile cleaning carts for increased sanitation in the lobby throughout the day.
In preparation for the increased design demands, EIS is building environments of the future using our design and creative expertise to develop concepts that promote safety and physical wellbeing. Let’s partner together to design your hotel's lobby of the future. Reach out to EIS to start the conversation.