Even though COVID-19 has dealt the biggest blow in the history of the hotel market, all indications are that the industry is regenerating, with more and more new hotels emerging to reform and reshape the tourism sector.
What exactly is different in the way new hotels are being developed, and what changes did COVID-19 bring? Nikos S. Morantis and Zenios Zeniou from Destsetters, the first Hotel Concept Making company in Greece, answer seven questions about how new-age hotels are designed and share the key factors to their successful course in Epixeiro.
Let’s start with the basics. How do you define a Hotel Concept, and what does it mean that Destsetters is the first Greek company specializing in it?
The answer is indeed very simple! Up until today, if an investor was interested in building a hotel, they went straight to the architect, who then designed the hotel according to the characteristics of the plot, the prerequisites determined by the various funding programs, and the investor’s vision. This is where there was a major gap regarding the necessary research that would determine the hotel’s potential and the creation of the architect’s brief, both fundamental for the design of a potentially profitable hotel. Using the experience we have in hotel operation and sale strategy, we focused on that gap and created a methodology that leads to a truly successful hotel creation, with a complete typology and storytelling. So, what we do is basically help the investor enable the architects and all third-party partners that will be involved in the specification of the new hotel.
So, we’re talking about thorough planning and research before designing a hotel, a practice that is even more necessary in the post-COVID-19 era. How did the pandemic affect the new way of hotel designing?
We believe that the pandemic accelerated the already existing trends of powerful storytelling, greater autonomy and privacy in the room, upgraded hospitality profile, and sustainability, not so much in the aspect of ecology, as in the aspect of a “human-friendly” hotel. These trends were ignited by the rise of Airbnb, which soon became a strong competitor for hotels by providing a more autonomous accommodation alternative, and by the effect of over-tourism, which has become a major social issue during the past few years and has highlighted the need for a radical change in the way we approach hotel and tourism development.
Let’s focus on the rooms. What should a potential hotelier take into consideration to meet the new needs?
First of all, we are very happy that you asked this question because, when it comes to the rooms of new hotels, a lot of mistakes have been made even before the pandemic. Deciding on the number and type of the rooms is the most determining factor for the success of a hotel, and it requires vast experience in hospitality and relevant market research. It’s not a matter of architecture but of how the hotel presents itself on the online channels. Creating more rooms doesn’t necessarily translate into more profits. In this new era, hotels do not provide just accommodation but a complete in-room experience, with comfortable rooms and private facilities, such as pool and jacuzzi – keep in mind that “hotels in Greece with private pools” is one of the most important search trends in Google – and upgraded mini bars that make the room more autonomous. Sales channels, like booking.com, put an emphasis on the square meters, while room facilities have become one of the most popular filters a traveler uses when choosing the hotel that will cover their needs. So, before making the decision to create “as many doors as possible,” we must examine how this decision affects the square meters and the development of private facilities, in combination with the conclusions of our initial research, the hotel’s profile, and the audiences we’d like to target.
When it comes to the hotel’s common-use grounds, what should we take into consideration for their success and involvement in the hotel experience?
Let’s begin with the fact that the common-use grounds are determined by the number of rooms and the experience they provide. Apart from the minimums that are predefined by the potential star rating, every hotel should pay the necessary attention to each facility, aligning it with the overall experience and the operational concept. For example, in a hotel with private pools and gardens and the option for in-room breakfast, we should take into account that the main restaurant and pool will have less traffic. On the contrary, in a hotel with simple rooms and no room service, the common-use grounds require reinforcement. After the pandemic, we can only talk about common-use grounds that do not encourage overcrowding and ensure enough personal space for each guest. Especially in Greece, outdoor and semi-outdoor facilities and direct and constant contact with nature have gained significant ground.
Enter sustainability. Earlier you mentioned “human-friendly” sustainability. How do you define that?
Exactly! We’re thinking of hotels that respect people in every aspect, including ecology, culture, local society, and working personnel. The trends revolve around hotels that place bioclimatic design at their core, a tactic that has proven to contribute to saving resources, emphasize the authenticity of the hotel, and showcase the local architecture and materials, blending the hotel with the natural landscape. From now on, hotels should be designed to be accessible by all audiences and with special care for their personnel in order to ensure an advanced working environment that will be reflected in the quality of the service.
People are always part of the hotel story, and, as you mentioned earlier, storytelling is very important for the development of a hotel. How is this incorporated into the specification of a new hotel?
It’s important to mention that there is a very wide range of accommodation options and that online channels offer them all clumped together, letting the traveler narrow down the choices by using filters. That means that a hotel needs more qualities to stand out, so developing a unique narrative that will be reflected in the design and the overall experience will make the hotel special, with a strong visual and brand identity that will give the audience even more reasons to pick it for their accommodation. After collaborating with the architects’ team to specify the right typology, we develop the hotel narrative, which will help the designers define the final aesthetic identity and the management team specifies the hotel outlets according to the design. In the post-pandemic era, storytelling is even more important, as travelers seek more and more unique experiences and chances to escape their routine.
In closing, given the fact that there is great interest in investing in the hotel industry right now in Greece, what would you advise someone who’s making an investment at this time?
Our advice is that in order for a hotel investment to succeed, it needs much more research and study than it used to, as there are many significant factors that should be taken into account. “Personal opinion” is no longer enough, a hotelier needs an experienced team that will specify the new hotel in the right way and will manage to keep the investors updated and help them understand the demanding hotel market. To sum up, these are the steps a new hotel investor should follow:
Firstly, they should decide on the initial team that will include the hotel concept makers, who will cater to the research and the specification of the brief, and the architect that will be in charge of the design.
This team will determine the strategic direction of the project and the architectural design.
Finally, the team will specify the concept, the storytelling, and the operation of the hotel and give the relevant briefs to the interior, landscape, and lighting designers so that they can complete the project.
The goal from now on is to develop hotel projects with the right methodology, which will lead to a complete product with actual profit prospects.
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Meet the Destsetters and create a unique Hotel Concept that will help your property stand out from the competition.
Hotel Concept Development is the most upgraded service of Destsetters that aims to create unique hotels, with high-profit opportunities and proper operation, but also with recognizable features that will help them stand out from the competition.
Considering the location of the property, the owners' desires, the competition as well as the relevant demand, we undertake the specification of the characteristics and the strategy of the project, in order to create a signature hotel that meets the needs of travelers and has real profit prospects.
Our team partners with new investors, hoteliers, consulting companies, and architectural teams, providing them with a whole hotel specification that will offer all the necessary research and hotel know-how, identifying the commercial characteristics of the new accommodation and defining the elements of its strategy, which should be reflected in the designing and concept of the property, striving to create a successful business.