Joel Butler’s take-homes from the Annual Hotel Conference…

 By Joel Butler, Event Manager at Sleep.. 

There were many inspiring take-homes from the impressive Annual Hotel Conference this year, some of the main topics discussed were the economic and specifically the human resource impact of Brexit, as well as the seemingly futile fight between hotels and the OTAs.

Thinking ahead to this year’s Sleep event however, the topic that was continuously debated throughout the two day conference, was the disruption of millennials and hotel’s understanding of guest’s desires. This is a theme that will very much be addressed at this year’s Sleep Set installations; which will get under the skin of the guest and how the hotels can more effectively put them into groups, using Sinus Milieus’ approach of the Science of Tribes.

Thomas Dubaere, Managing Director at Accor Hotels celebrated disruption and challenged hotels to go out and find it. He takes inspiration from millennials, and goes as far as tasking a Board of Millennials with the group’s loyalty programme; a shrewd move, given that this demographic is renowned for not being loyal to brands.

Many argued that millennials do in fact believe in the concept of brands if it can offer them a desired experience, more specifically 46% would be loyal if they could check in digitally. Dubaere therefore stressed that they are removing all reception desks, and will be replacing them with open spaces whilst ensuring that people are there to meet the guests.

Citizen M

Citizen M, Digital check-in 

This ‘socio-demographic’ type casting has its limitations however, Dubaere recognised that millennial should be addressed to a certain mind-set, rather than being exclusive to an age-group. Andrew Shaw from IHG supported this by pointing out that “millennials will grow up, have kids and change their travel habits.”

The conversation on designing for different guests developed through the day….

Sara Cosgrove, Design Director of Project 1898 enthused on ‘Generous design’, using The Palace Manchester as an example and the social value that it holds in the community, a space which has now become “a local living room which also connects with events”. Jason Holley, Director of Universal Design Studio emphasised the value of Quiet design, he said “I like to inhabit quiet design; a space that feels like its improving life in a simple way”. This rings true with the Mitsui Designtec installation at Sleep. The Tokyo based practice will be designing a room for the ‘Established Tribe’, a group who values this ‘simplistic experience for the soul’.

Manchester Palace

The Palace Manchester 

On Another tribal note, Susanna Kingston, Senior Designer of Ennismore identified the new target audience for NoCo, the imminent opening that will be a budget hotel take of the Hoxton. Sharan Pasricha the man behind NoCu will be the Sleep conferences opening keynote speaker.   

Art Hotels were also mentioned following Universal Studio’s recent Stockholm hotel opening ‘At Six’ Holley continued “art was the design journey from the start rather than hanging pictures once the design was finished” Sune Nordgren, Art Curator of Nordic Hotels and Resorts will be exploring this further at the Art in Hotels conference at Sleep this November.

Jonathan Manser, CEO at The Manser Practice Architects & Designers reminded the audience on the importance of hotel staff, he said “designers are aware of the guest needs, but can be guilty of forgetting about the people that will be working within the space”. This comment resounded with the audience and set’s the scene for Living with Design, The Sleep conference panel of GMs.


Noco Hotel plans

To summarise, Doris and Dicky’s, a budget boutique hotelier noted “The beginning, middle and end is the customer and we need to be aware that the same consumer has different needs at different times, this is where air bnb is making ground” which led on to another topical debate of the continuous growth of air bnb...

The Annual Hotel Conference offered some big thinking inspiration along with some micro-design revalations, and is of course a fantastic networking event. In November Sleep 2016 focuses on hotel design and will be a tribal experience. To book your complimentary ticket for the conference click here.