Design Developing

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Managers of hospitality properties are not only responsible
for the unit’s operations, but also for formulating a strategy
that will develop the property to reflect both the needs of
customers and the demands of the owners. Such a strategy
is always forward-looking, as it seeks to improve product
and service in the unit. Often, unit managers need to coordinate
this development strategy, using the expertise of specialists
from inside and outside the organization.This thread
considers the role of the designer and the importance of
both the design briefing document and management of the
design process, in the following headings:
• What is design?
• The role of the designer
• The components of design
• The purpose of design
• A model of the design process
• Factors affecting design
• Sensory design responses
• Aesthetics and style
• The project brief
• Evaluating the design proposals
• Project implementation
• Future challenges
• Conclusion

What is design?
The word design comes from the French word meaning to draw,
and can signify a ‘drawing that shows how something is to be
made’ (Hawkins, 1988:218). Design has also come to be understood
as a ‘model, pilot, purpose or plot’ (Oxford University Press,
1971:698). A third meaning for this word is the general form or
arrangement, especially of a building. Thus design incorporates
the planning, drawing and arrangements of properties, and the
design process represents the operationalization of a project from
ideas to drawings and reality.

The role of the designer
The role of the designer in the hospitality industry is to provide a
commercial design service to individual managers or owners, or
to multi-unit organizations. The commercial aims of the design
process should be to maximize the capital investment and
financial return of the owners, rather than to satisfy the designer’s
artistic sensibilities. Successful designs are those that find favour
primarily with the end user; the hospitality customer, as customer
acceptance and repeat purchase behaviour will result in a financial
return on the development investment. It is important that
the designer and hospitality client do not place their preferences
above those of the customer.
The task of the designer is to establish a harmonious balance
between the following factors:
• Image
• Style
• Operating efficiency
• Customer comfort.
Image and style are the means through which an organization
communicates messages, such as brand identity or quality, while
operating efficiency and customer comfort are more tangible
operational considerations. A new or adapted hospitality design
should be one that can be operated by the staff and management.
Consideration should be given to practical operational issues
such as the flow of people, materials or information. For example,
the design of a customer interface area such as a bar or reception
should include space behind the counter for the storage of documents
and should be able to accommodate the number of staff
required to serve customers at maximum capacity. The designer
and the client need to work closely together to ensure that both
aesthetics and practicalities are balanced.
The designer is responsible for the following elements:
• Space planning
• Form and colour
• Finishes and durability
• Lighting and audio-visual systems
• Technology
• Costs.
In essence, the design incorporates all these elements, and the
designer acts as the interface between the building form, structure,
building services and the operation, in order to turn a concept
into reality.

The components of design
Design incorporates both interior and exterior elements. The
exterior presentation of property involves signs, building form,
window dressing, entrances, canopies, outdoor activities, terraces,
patios and landscaping. It is the exterior presentation that gives
the hospitality property a distinctive presence in its neighbourhood
and offers the customer a first image to inform their perception of
the product.
Interior design aims to make best use of the space available
in the property, both for front and back of house activities. The
internal configuration of facilities includes accommodation, food
and beverage areas, reception areas, leisure amenities, storage and
services (for example, heating, air-conditioning, gas, water, lighting,
power, and communications). Consideration must be given
to the circulation pattern of customers and staff, so that bottlenecks
do not cause frustrations for staff and possibly lower the standard
of service defects for guests. Moreover, there is a primary need to
ensure that the interior design itself should not present hazards
that may affect the safety of the building or its occupants, with
regard to accidents or fire risk. This necessity extends to the interior
construction of rooms and spaces, the linings, furnishings and
surface finishes, all of which need to be designed with appearance,
practicability, cost and safety in mind.
The design of a hospitality property is also a reflection of the
operating standards of the unit and includes factors such as:
• Capacity of bedrooms, public areas and food and beverage
• Layouts of table groupings
• Anticipated product and service turnover, and consequent
flexibility of accommodation and seating
• Method of food and drink service, staffing and support

The purpose of design
Effective hospitality designs are those that are planned around a
number of key criteria:
• Marketing. Appealing to the target market by projecting the
desired image and providing the required price and quality
• Ambience. Creating attractive internal environment and conditions
that support a suitable social atmosphere and the service
• Operations. Meeting the practical needs of serving guests efficiently
and to the required standard
• Maintenance. Ensuring fabric and facilities can be maintained
to suitable standards easily and replacements are available (for
example rare foreign carpet, tiles, toilets)
• Capital costs. Matching the planned capital cost expenditure,
which will have been based on the anticipated return on
Once again, it is imperative that design should balance the needs
of customers, owners and operators.

A model of the design process
The design process, shown in Figure 3.1, begins with a desire on
the part of the property managers or owners to change the tangible
product. Initially, there will be some discussion within the organization
about what form this development should take and the
approximate resources that might be allocated to fund it. At this
stage, a designer is appointed to explore the idea with the organization
and develop the idea for a new concept. Such a concept for
the internal development of a hospitality property will be constrained
by its location and any company policy on product
branding. For example, firms such as Whitbread, Holiday Inn and
Accor have a number of branded hotels that must be designed
within tight specifications, in order to maintain brand integrity.
The next stage is the development of a design brief. This is produced
according to the characteristics of the site and within budget
guidelines. Subsequently, the design can be costed and feasibility
studies carried out concerning the effects of the proposals in terms
of revenue, costs and profit. If these meet the needs of the organization,
a detailed set of design specifications is produced and
tenders invited from contractors to implement the design.

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Figure 3.1
A model of the hospitality design process

Factors affecting design
Ahospitality design concept can be affected by a number of factors,
• Company policy. Product style, brand and future development
• Concept. Objectives and market orientation
• Location. Type of premises, surroundings and constraints
• Function. Space usage, seating capacity and operational needs
• Aesthetics. Style, character and design features
• Budget. Investment criteria, payback, financing and resources
• Business. Strategy: planned life cycle and future changes
• Logistics. Critical dates, stages and contractors.
Equally, a number of factors may constrain the design process, such
as location, market, budget and company policy. In this sense, few
hospitality developments start with a ‘blank sheet’ and, therefore,
design skills can overcome restrictions and plan changes that will
meet the needs of all concerned. Design is not about creating from
a blank canvas, but also creating solutions within the constraints
of individual developments.

Sensory design responses
Design is both functional and sensory. It creates visual and emotion
appeal through, for example, lighting, richness of colour, and the
texture of furnishings. Mirrors, lighting and sound can transmit
excitement and atmosphere in hospitality properties. More specifically,
it is necessary to design a room size and its proportion in
relation to the purpose and the number of people who may use it.
Public areas, for example, should give sensory clues as to the
quality and prices of the services on offer and present a warm and
inviting ambience. Warmth or coolness can be created using
materials, textures and colours, while variations of light and shade
can give the illusion of space and form. The extent and importance
of these as design features will depend upon the target
market. Customers in the luxury market will expect more sophisticated
aesthetics, and may be more appreciative (and perhaps
critical) of items such as antiques and paintings, added to create
an atmosphere of sophisticated elegance.

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Illustration 3.1
A design presentation: plan and mood board

Aesthetics and style
The atmosphere that can be created by design, feelings such as
calmness, sociability and intimacy, augments a customer satisfaction
with hospitality products and services. Mood can affect the
way that an individual responds to an experience and mood can
be affected by social and environmental conditions. Since hospitality
products are often consumed in social conditions, customers
might be more aware of others in a half-empty restaurant or bar,
than in one which is crowded with people. Paradoxically, some
hospitality units are all the more desirable for being crowded,
and it is the job of the designer to help to create a balance between
size and atmosphere. Paradoxically, it is often style that distinguishes
a property from those of competitors through branding or
product differentiation. Branding style conveys information about
product and prices, often through the creation of a theme, such as
those represented by McDonalds or Travelodge. Themes are able
to express mood (novelty, escapism), historical period, and fashion or
ethnic origin. Equally, there is also a trend towards cleaner, simpler,
less fussy lines, which reflect a contemporary current lifestyle and
are also easier to maintain.

The project brief
Aproject brief is the pivotal document that establishes the project’s
objective and parameters for all the parties concerned, including
owners, managers/operators and design team. The project brief
should address a number of key issues:
• Objectives of the development: why a change is needed and what
is required
• Budget: spending limits and the required rate of return
• Time: desired start and finish date to maximize selling opportunities
and minimize disruption
• Quality: standards and durability required from the development.
As with any other form of communication, the message from the
client should be as clear, concise and briefly stated as possible. It
will also be affected by the amount of detail about the constraints
that are felt necessary by the developers, as well as the knowledge
and ability of those charged with writing it. The length of
the briefing document will also depend upon the extent to which
the product has been articulated and needs to be replicated in
other locations. For example, McDonalds, the multi-national fast
food restaurant chain has created a world-famous brand based on
an established process and formula. In creating a new outlet, it is
imperative that the components of foodservice and space planning
are repeated exactly so that brand identity and recognition are
promoted. Alternatively, an independent restaurant developer who
wishes to create a new and original dining experience to compete
with established brands might write a comparatively unbounded
brief that leaves the design team free to develop original and
creative ideas.
The definition and communication of requirements is at the heart
of a good brief. The success and value for money of a hospitality
development project depends on writing a good brief. This is as
crucial to the project as are foundations to a building. Good briefs
are characterized by the following:
• Logical structure. As with any document, a clear structure will
make it accessible, readable and understandable
• Presentation. Should always be attractively presented
• Consistency. The brief should express cohesive ideas
• Progressive. Define the stages of development and the approval
needed at each stage.
A project brief must include both fundamental matters and the
required attributes can be characterized as fundamentals and


• Objectives. These should be sorted into priorities, for example
costings, marketing, operational and maintenance issues
• Resources. Budgets and content, timescale, planned life cycle,
operational elements and staffing levels
• Context. Scope, relevant legislation, technical facts, nature of
site, building fabric and area specifications
• Planning. Services, space relationships, function, operational
methods and seating capacities
• Marketing. Market segments, customer profile, spend per head
and duration of stay, service standards, usage and entertainment.


• Realism. Realistic in terms of objectives, resources, context,
planning and quality
• Relevance. Information related to the project only
• Flexibility. Specific enough for decisions to be taken and flexible
enough to encourage the exploration of options
• Operation. Define the organization’s standards, informed by the
client’s experiences of the durability of materials and running

Evaluating the design proposals
Having briefed the designer, the next issue for the client is to evaluate
the design proposals. Many people argue that the hospitality
industry has avoided expenditure on research and development
and has relied on the small entrepreneur to develop new concepts
and innovation, only to be bought out and replicated by larger
companies. In the future, this will lead to inevitable change as
greater discernment by hospitality customers will require the sort
of product development expenditure that is common in many
developing industries, in which there is a focus on creativity for
market leadership. Accordingly, the hospitality clients of the future
should evaluate design proposals in a more professional and
forward-thinking way.
Design evaluation should not be clouded by the personal preferences
of the client, because the proposal should mirror the organization’s
objectives. If the proposal does not reflect these objectives,
the client should give the designer an opportunity to redress this
misalignment, or seek another designer. Some of the fundamentals
of the brief are generally factual and relatively simple to evaluate,
including objectives, resources, context and planning (because
the client will have developed a clear idea of what is required).
Marketing, however, is less tangible and gives the client a number
of choices of market, price and product specification.
Many people confuse interior design in the hospitality industry
with domestic interior decoration or the aesthetics of good design
as defined by an elite minority. Commercial interior design can be
regarded in the same way as packaging in the retailing industry,
where products from breakfast cereals to toys are wrapped attractively
to appeal to the buying public. In the same way, the hospitality
product is ‘packaged’ in an environment and atmosphere that is
designed to appeal to the customer base and not necessarily to the
client, his wife or any other individual. Consequently, the appraisal
of the marketing element of the briefing fundamentals is the most
difficult element to evaluate in all cases. However, the design proposals
should be always be integrated into the design brief.

Project implementation
The critical elements to achieving any successful building project
are time, cost and quality. These factors are even more important
in hospitality projects, which can be complex, especially in major
refurbishments where the unit is to remain open and trading. A
clear, concise and specific client briefing document defining, not
only the parameters of cost, time and quality but also operational
requirements, space standards and area relationships is therefore
essential to the successful implementation of a development. The
general perception in the design and construction industry is still
that hospitality developments focus on quality in terms of space
and decorative standards and are not sensitive to overall cost. The
reality is that hospitality projects are probably more sensitive to
capital cost expenditure for their viability than any other form of
Since the early 1990s capital valuations have been more influenced
by multiples of profit than any other factor. The relationship
between capital cost and return on investment driven by earnings
and profit are therefore direct and measurable. In turn this means
that hotels must be planned to be functional and operationally
efficient with minimum maintenance and running costs, as well
as being designed to provide guest comfort, and appeal to suit
specific markets. This is equally applicable to budget and luxury
hotels, resort or city hotels, branded or individual hotels.
There is a adage in golf development that ‘new golf courses are
developed by individuals with a passion who end up bankrupt
before completion’. The project is then bought by an enthusiast
who finishes it, but cannot get a return on the investment, and subsequently
sells out to the mainstream operators at a realistic price,
who can then make a handsome profit. This analogy is applicable
to the Western European hotel market, which has matured financially
in a dramatic way over the last ten years. Most major
hotel-owning companies and financiers have shed any emotional
tendencies and have developed sophisticated financial systems
and controls to manage their assets. To that end the buyers are
predominantly mainstream industry companies and valuations
reflect this reality.
Capital costs for different hotel product and market profile
properties need to be compatible to industry norms. Such capital
cost norms will consequently define quality standards that have
to be achieved within strict time schedules if costs are to be controlled.
Similarly, hotel lettings need to be planned well in advance
to suit refurbishment works.

Future challenges
With the advent of the separation of ownership and operation of
a hospitality property there is a case for the design of a property
to be considered on a more long-term basis. Differing property
use values are not static and a location’s use value may change.
Many examples exist where offices have been converted into hotels
when letting values for office space in their area have fallen. As
the process of construction continues to change from skill based
techniques to more pre-manufactured methods, designers will
have the opportunity to design more flexibility into the built form.
Initially, incorporating such flexibility will entail a higher capital
cost. However, if such additional cost can be contained as a small
percentage of the overall cost, the long-term benefit to the owner,
being able to change the operational use of the building at a low
cost, could enhance the overall returns on the building over its
planned lifecycle. One of the constraints on raising finance for hotel
development has historically been its single use option and very
limited scope for change. In the past, this was the case for offices.
Now they are designed with a view to providing flexibility. The
essential requirement is the ability easily to change location access
to power or information technology configurations and provision
of lighting, air conditioning and internal space separation. If such
adaptability were provided for water and waste services, while
the same building techniques for the other building services were
applied, a building form with multi-use options at a low cost for
change would change the financial criteria for the property investor.
For the operator, the need to change the physical product is
also proving more essential now, as the customer becomes more
demanding in aspirations for experiencing newer products. For
example, in the restaurant sector, there has been a reduction in the
mainstream product lifecycle. The impact of this is that return on
investment now has to be measured over a shorter period with a
subsequent increase in risk. If this trend continues and extends
into the hotel sector, where the initial investment is far greater, its
impact on the mainstream market could prove to be even more
dramatic, unless, of course the flexibility of the building form is
Similar pressure exists in the developed countries as a consequence
of the reducing land resource available for development
in the main areas of demand. The lack of penetration of the limited
service or budget hotels into city centre locations due to the high
entry cost demonstrates this. As does the fact that many mid-market
hotels are now renovated, and repositioned as a superior product
despite the high cost of refurbishment. However, trading up the
product is a finite option in most locations and does not satisfy
the demand in the mid-market sector, which is the largest segment
of the industry. Consolidation and acquisition of the product
available by the major groups and brands with only minor refurbishment
to satisfy brand standards may provide a short-term
solution for under-performing product and brand representation.
However, it does not increase available stock. As demand is forecast
to increase, the issues will be resolved by way of more flexible
building form or the nature of the product. The latter may be driven
by the nature of property investment and development, which is
moving more to the development of multi-use buildings, occasioned
by a need to maximize the value of a property in particular
locations. Such development trends pose challenges for developer,
owner and operator alike. All of this will require the designer to
respond to more complex issues in future.
As the ownership structure of the hospitality industry adapts in
terms of ownership and its nature alters in terms of operations, so
have design and construction industries changed. The aspects
of change in the construction industry are covered in detail in
following threads. For the design industry, change appears to be about
reverting back to its roots. In the early part of the last century,
architects, for instance, were only responsible for design, the implementation
and realization of the building being the skills provided
by others. Traditionally the great Victorian architects concerned
themselves with the aesthetics of the building design leaving the
master builder to realize personal aspirations and those of the
owners. As the volume and scope of building increased through
industrialization, the architect’s role was extended to maintain
control and status. This role was extended to manage the delivery
of the building as designed, by adding the management of the
building process to service provision. Thus, the architect/designer
gained authority over the process. Sensibly for them, because
such authority was not linked with responsibility, at least not
in a contractual way. This was achieved by diversifying the role
into separate professions, namely quantity surveying, structural,
mechanical and electrical engineering and later a host of other
specialists including interior and landscape designers to name
but two. This resulted in major projects having up to twenty different
consultants all working under the direction and coordination
of the architect. Not trained as managers it was not surprising
that in the 1980s, architects having failed fully to satisfy clients’
requirements lost managerial control, responsibility of which was
taken over by the project manager. Similarly, construction companies
moved into the provision of design and build construction
management or ‘turn key’ as it is known in the USA. This came
about because the companies attempted to address the issues by
way of a management contract form and realized that management
without authority could not produce the required results,
While the benefits and weaknesses of the varying methods of
construction, particularly those which deliver the best in terms of
quality, time and cost, are still being debated, it is interesting to
note that the architectural and design schools are expending
more time on the teaching of the theories of design rather than the
management of the process of construction. Similarly, as the methods
of construction continue to change from skill to manufacture
based systems the larger international construction companies
who have the resources to invest in development, but require a
secure work flow have moved into partnering. This involves the
supplier and procurer entering into longer-term agreements to
develop multiple units in varying locations. By simplifying the
management structure of the design and construction process, such
partnerships seem to be delivering more and more projects in various
industry sectors including hospitality. Perhaps it will prove to
be partnering or a similar process that will evolve to embody the
change in design and construction in the twenty-first century.
The fact that the UK recorded its highest temperature ever
(over 100°F) on 10 August 2003 may not be confirmation that the
global climate is changing. However, it does have an impact on
the UK hotel industry. While in the past air conditioning was an
option, now it is a basic requirement in hotel facilities. Climate
change and the environment will inevitably impact on the design
and cost of hospitality property in many different ways, including
the nature of the building shell, the management of the internal
environment, the cost and availability of utilities and consequently
the nature of operational services and facilities. Consumer demand
for environmentally considered products is growing as is national
legislation in certain parts of the world and some predict it will
eventually impact on our ability to travel at will. Whatever transpires
in this regard designers, builders, developers, owners and
operators will undoubtedly be challenged to address the complex
issues of the environment, flexibility, multi-use buildings and the
separation of ownership and operations in a more competitive
marketplace in the future.

In this thread, it has been suggested that the role of the designer
is to work with the hospitality client to develop a final product
that meets the needs of the client and satisfies the consumer. A
balance must be struck between factors such as image, style, operating
efficiency and customer comfort, and between aesthetics
and practicalities. The external design of hospitality properties
must be practical and appealing, while internal design should
make the best use of the space available. The designer is responsible
for planning the space available and for filling it with suitable
furnishings and fittings, so that the flow of people and materials
is facilitated. Design is, however, affected by factors such as company
policy, location, budgets and logistics, and a good designer
needs to be aware of such considerations. The design of bedroom
accommodation requires more attention to tangible factors than
food and beverage facilities, where there is more of a requirement
to create an environment in which to enjoy the dining experience.
Design may be regarded as a sequential process from concept to
implementation, and the design brief is a key document in which
the project objectives and parameters are set out. The briefing document
should be clear and concise. Its length will depend upon the
extent to which the hospitality product needs to be branded.
Design proposals should be evaluated objectively, with special care
taken in how the new product should be marketed. Hospitality
products, like any other product, must be carefully packaged so
that they appeal to the consumer’s senses and add to the experience.
Any development project is affected by the critical factors of
time, cost and quality, and hospitality projects are no exception.
There may even be greater complexity if the unit is required to
continue trading while the project is completed. In recent years,
projects have increasingly be assessed by the return on investment,
and it is the task of the hospitality design team to develop new
schemes that may achieve this aim
As Rutes et al. (1985) remark:
Perhaps the most basic difficulty for the neophyte hotel
designer is learning that hotel operation must earn a
profit out of its building… In a hotel you are both leasing
to the public every night and catering to their every need.
Therefore, rather than a monument or mere rental space,
a hotel must provide a total living environment, with all
the needed multicomplex functions and activities.
It is likely that this complex format will be further challenged in the
immediate future by the separation of ownership and operations,
environmental considerations and the greater need for the product
to be flexible to adapt to the changing aspirations of the consumer.

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