Design is a critical aspect of any brand's positioning.
I recently had the honor of presenting some insights on the subject at the Cornell Brand Management Roundtable, hosted by Professor Chekitan Dev, PH.D. and The Center for Hospitality Research.
When it comes to branding hotels and resorts, both art and science are involved. Under the category of art comes stunning photography, which is one way to showcase a property and communicate its "wow" factor.
The science comes from understanding the elements of good design – functionality, quality, and impact.
Where functionality can be assessed (Is the building well designed for its purpose?) and quality can be evaluated (Will the building and materials last?), impact (Does the building lift people's spirits?) is harder to measure ... but that doesn't mean it can't be done.
Using a tool called DQI (Design Quality Indicator) to gauge the impact of 99 design-related variables, Hyatt administered a questionnaire to 2,000 guests and employees at 24 of their hotels. They were able to correlate high DQI scores with strong guest and employee satisfaction as well as with individual properties' RevPAR index.
In a longitudinal study conducted over 20 years, WATG engaged Smith Travel Research to examine the effect of design on a property's top and bottom line by comparing 27 hotels that the firm designed in four separate geographic areas against competitive sets in the same markets managed by the same operators. The WATG hotels outperformed the control group in occupancy, ADR and RevPAR.
These studies, coupled with owner/operator interviews as well as comments from guests and employees, provide quantifiable evidence that good design adds value. And it can do so in three measureable areas:
- Asset value: higher valuation as well as lower operating and maintenance costs;
- Quality of environment: improved productivity and better guest experience; and
- Brand identity: recognition, visibility and media exposure.
A summary of the entire proceedings, called "Fresh Thinking Outside the Box," can be obtained from Cornell for free in exchange for your email address here.
Congratulations to the entire Shangri-La's Villingili Resort and Spa, Maldives team for winning the Award of Excellence at the 2011 AIA Honolulu Design Awards. Shangri-La Maldives took the top honor out of a field of nearly 40 entries.
Each winner was asked to do a presentation of their project in the Pecha Kucha style (20 slides, 20 seconds per slide). I was thrilled and honored to represent WATG and accept the award. (A copy of the presentation can be viewed here).
Some notable facts about the project:
Special thanks to Shangri-La for allowing us to work on this rewarding project, and to the entire team who contributed to the design of the resort.
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