Monday, February 19, 2018

Come for the art, stay for the hotel

Using artwork to differentiate your property is hardly a task to put off for later as you can achieve tangible results in the very short-term. This is a topic worth exploring as there are several other angles at play besides just the direct impact on the guest experience.

Yes, guests will greatly appreciate having fascinating pieces hanging on the walls in their rooms and they’ll love to crane their necks in any public space equally festooned with exciting visuals. But have you considered the impact that such installations will have on locals as well as on your own staff?

Starting with the latter, imagine what your own home would feel like if you didn’t have a few paintings or sculptures and if everything was clinical-coloured, sparse décor. This would dampen your mood, and the same applies for a hotel. If your team sees that you take pride in your place of work then they are more likely to follow in stride. If your hotel feels unique to the staff who live and breathe the space, then they too will come to see it as an exceptional work environment, and not one that’s interchangeable for any other property. From there, better moods translate to better motivation levels and better service delivery.

Now as for locals, while they are undoubtedly looking for a restaurant will unbeatable food and drinks, they’ll also want a bit of visual stimulation in the process. If you gain a reputation as an artistic haven, then the locals will wonder by, ambling through your public areas just to catch a glimpse and possibly grab a coffee or cocktail afterwards. From there, with your reputation amongst locals growing, this will not pay off in terms of word of mouth and your notoriety abroad.

While there is undoubtedly a direct line between such design principles and attracting locals all the way through to the guest satisfaction scores that appear on online review sites, the big question mark is how to better start on such an endeavour as well as how to promote your efforts.

For beginners, less is more. That is, it is better to have a few paintings around with good lighting than it is to have posters smacked against every possible wall. It is possible to organise this venture in phases with public areas tackled one by one then the suites and finally the regular guest rooms.

Moreover, you don’t have to only think in terms of the traditional viewpoint of art equals acrylic on canvas. Installations also have a tremendous impact. Digital and interactive art are on rise, with screens doubling as both elaborate surfaces for artists to display whatever they want, in addition to all the possibilities for motion capture and camera integrations. Lastly, consider your exterior, both in terms of its lighting which can be arranged to form a moving pattern or image as well as such vibrant pieces as outdoor neon sculptures, giving your hotel a whole new look at nighttime.

If you’re having difficulties getting buy-in from ownership – it is a capital expenditure after all – then remind them that art doubles as an investment when purchased wisely. To help allay their trepidation, work with a curator or art consultant to not only reassure investors but to also develop the overall theme of all acquired pieces and get you a discount.

In terms of promotional activities, first and foremost would be an announcement of the project in the form of a series of press releases, information on the website and a launch event. These will obviously get a boosted profile if they involve local artists. You might also consider cutting an online video for your website or YouTube channel that goes more in-depth with background information on the artwork and interviews. Another fun way to highlight your art program is to develop a virtual guest room art tour that shows what guests can expect in each – also acting possibly as digital justification for a higher ADR.

Lastly, on an ongoing basis, there’s always your hotel blog, newsletter or social media for periodic announcements of recent acquisitions. Once you reach a critical mass, having an onsite art concierge for personal guided tours is all but necessary for guests to realise the entirety of what you’ve achieved. Any sort of strident move like this towards becoming an official art hotel should be complemented by a dedicated art newsletter.

About Larry Mogelonsky

Larry Mogelonsky
Larry Mogelonsky is the founder of Toronto-based hospitality consulting agency LMA Communications Inc.

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