It is certainly true that the pandemic has been a huge cause of challenges for the hospitality industry. But through all of the bad news and downtrends, there has been a silver lining to all the clouds: hospitality was forced to become innovative and creative to overcome the situation.
This led to a range of design updates and changes to attempt to maximise hospitality businesses’ ability to operate, but also to find ways to make customers feel safer and more secure.
Unsurprisingly, much of design has focused either on ways of using outdoor space more effectively or creating an environment that focuses on the natural world. Doing so makes a lot of sense; there has definitely been a stronger affinity with the natural world as a result of the pandemic. There is even medical evidence to suggest that exposure to green spaces is good for our mental health in a post-pandemic world.
Change and new experiences is something everyone is looking for, especially with regard to hospitality. So, the world is a changed place, and the hospitality sector has to change with it. But which of the design trends made essential by the pandemic are likely to stick around? In this article, we take a look at hospitality in a post-pandemic world and examine which popular design elements are here to stay.
Cleanliness is Hot
Undoubtedly one of the major design elements that the pandemic brought to the forefront was the importance of cleanliness and easy cleaning. Hospitality designers need to put an emphasis on hygiene and healthiness, so it is no surprise that easily sanitised materials have become a key consideration for hospitality design.
For example, there has been a key uplift in the popularity of subway tiles. When these types of tiles first made their transition out of the subway to the home, it was the kitchen where they were used, specifically because of their hygienic properties and the fact that they are easy to clean.
Undoubtedly, easy maintenance and the ability to ensure that a material can be sanitised will continue to be a factor moving forward.
Focus on the Natural
In the aftermath of the pandemic, it was clear that more people than ever yearned for exploration and the outside world – even when they were indoors. This puts focus on hospitality design around the natural world, and this is here to stay. The hospitality industry is putting a much greater design focus on concepts that are in sync with nature and that are better for the planet.
Look at the meteoric rise of the ‘natural’ swimming pool as an example. These pools don’t use chemicals and are often designed to blend in with the natural environment. We are also seeing hotels and clubs invest in so-called bio saunas, which offer a slightly cooler and more humid experience than traditional Finnish saunas. These types of facilities resonate more closely with the natural world and allow customers to feel immersed in more ‘natural’ experiences.
Flexible Use of Space
More than ever, flexibility has become one of the most prized factors in hospitality design. It is essential that buildings and spaces are as adaptable as possible so that they can be brought in line with any government recommendations for the future. For example, the design of public bathrooms should consider the possibility that these spaces might need to be better ventilated.
Also, consider the idea of rooms in hotels. While hotels might have previously taken the stance that hotels should be designed for sleeping, showering and only expecting a small amount of free time, the post-pandemic world may require a broader interpretation of what a hotel room provides. Indeed, in the future, we might expect more people to eat, socialise and exercise within their own rooms.
Making Better Use of Outdoor Space
There can be no doubt that outdoor space became a far more important issue during the pandemic. With many businesses being unable to operate indoor spaces during the lockdown, hospitality businesses were forced to find ways to make clever and creative use of outdoor areas with welcoming patios, inspired lighting techniques and impressive gardens. At the time, this led to the fastest possible conversions. But in the post-pandemic world, hospitality continues to reflect a different outlook on design options and has the time to consider the best strategies moving forward.
This is a trend – but it makes sense in the long term. If companies are able to make better use of their available outside space, they can potentially earn more money from their premises. A restaurant that can add six outdoor tables in a space that was previously going unused has increased its capacity with little expense.
It is certainly the case that hospitality businesses can benefit enormously from adopting these design trends – this is why they will stick around. Customers have always appreciated a more hygienic environment, the pandemic has functionally forced the issue and made these design elements trendier.