As hotels become more experiential, the lobby is becoming a place that acts as an active link between the hotel and its location. Innovative hotels are placing greater emphasis on the lobby space itself, using it to facilitate interaction, experiences and dwell time.
No longer neutral spaces
This has been called ‘lobby living’ by some, and has been led by innovative hoteliers like CitizenM, which has created open-plan lobbies that are more like large living rooms than the neutral, circulatory lobbies of the past. Similarly, budget chains like The Holiday Inn have also revitalised their lobbies, with London branches trialling an ‘Open Lobby Concept’, where lobbies attract guests and visitors in with a business centre, bar and lounge arranged in a “coffee house-style” set-up.
Why this is happening
It’s partly that hotels want to immerse guests in a sense of place to gain competitive advantage – and also that they want to draw people in by offering activities and connections. But a key factor is that they are competing against new accommodation providers which offer more home-like environments. They therefore want to provide spaces that are sociable and professional, and which add value and cause people to linger and spend money.
Invite guests in
The new lobby tends to be dynamic and exciting, with multiple activities. Some host business meetings, others scheduled exhibitions and live music. But whatever the activity, each hotel has to get the atmospherics right, by adapting sensory stimuli such as lighting, audio and scent to the purpose. Here, fragrance can provide what is known as a ‘warm welcome’ to arriving guests, or offer a dynamic space, and with olfactory signatures, a memory to take away.
What hotels are doing
- The Hampton Inn by Hilton has created its ‘Perfect Mix Lobby’ with communal tables and the ability to transform the space into a gathering area.
- Marriott is reinventing its lobbies by creating multiple zones – such as Relaxing, Individual, and Business – within the same lobby space.
- The Sheraton has teamed up with Microsoft to create The Link @ Sheraton in its hotel lobbies: a social space with technology, desktops and wifi.
- Movenpick Hotels & Resorts also uses technology to make lobbies more like airport lounges.
Scent can also help delineate areas and activities in hotels. An active scent is often desirable in the lobby to create the sense of dynamism often associated with this space. And, as the lobby is normally the first interaction that a guest has with a hotel, it’s vital to get it right. Some 53% of people said they would regret or reconsider checking into a hotel with a strong smell in the lobby – not just bad smells, but including overpowering fragrance.
What hotels can do to facilitate ‘lobby living’
- Have open-plan desks and informal receptions
- Use books and workspaces to give a busy feeling – rather than neutral circulation space
- Have coffee and a bar service
- Use scent as a dynamic sensory signal in communal space