What does constitute a responsible design?
Budget planning is crucial. It is important to be realistic in your expectations and maximise your budget but don’t sacrifice quality for the sake of a few dollars as it will likely cost you more in the long run.
The fitout and refurbishment company you select should be able to give you not only the budget for your work but also an indication of the colour palette and products they have specified. That way you can be sure the products are the correct selection for your property, are commercial and are within the correct budget bracket.
Does not overcapitalise
When putting a budget together keep in mind the target market you are aiming at and your star-rating goal – it is important to think of the property as your investment and not your home.
There is a level of finish that is applicable to your property and your place in the market. Unless your budget is unlimited, and whenever is that the case? Select products that are suitable to your level of property. There is no need to use top end tap ware and tiles in a bathroom for example if it will not give you additional return on your investment. Investment dollars need to be well justified and through research you will receive the return you expect, via smart marketing and sensible room rates.
The bottom line is don’t refurbish your rooms at a five-star level when you will only achieve three-star room rates or if your market and aim is for a three-star property. The investment will never pay off and you will be left short for ongoing maintenance.
Likewise it is equally if not more important to not under specify the products you use in your property. Even a three-star property should have commercial grade, solid and well selected products that work efficiently, look good and appeal to the guest. If you are a five-star property then a very high level of product is required and expected (don’t underestimate the guest’s knowledge of what the room should look like) and the additional fine touches that make the difference.
Caters to target market
Your design should be developed for your target market and guest demographic. If your main market is families then you will need to choose fabrics and colours that are more forgiving and will help to hide marks and stains, fabrics that are easy to clean and care for. Similarly if your main market is the corporate clientele, then you should focus on comfort and can afford to be more selective and specific in the design, perhaps more neutral or modern. Likewise the room layout should reflect this market. Corporate travellers do not want to see two or three beds in their ‘executive rooms’. They want to see a large bed, large desk space and comfortable seating. Don’t cater for three weeks at Christmas, cater for your usual and most common guest.
Relates to property’s atmosphere, history, location and star rating
This is fairly straightforward. If a property is heritage listed, for example, the products and finishes will need to reflect this. Ultra-modern design in this situation would not be appropriate, in the same way that you wouldn’t have a heritage design in a modern building. The history and location of the property need to be taken into consideration in the same regard. The climate and surroundings should also be considered. A property in a cold climate should have warm, comforting colours and textures. Obviously the location of the actual property should be considered, beach, bush etc, the design needs to be sympathetic and have synergy with the surroundings.
For a refurbishment to be truly successful the overall design must be cohesive, that is, all products, finishes and colours should look like they were thought of as a whole, like they belong together and weren’t randomly thrown in the room. This often happens when a refurbishment has taken place over time, piecemeal, without a plan from the beginning. The way to achieve this is to have a colour concept prepared prior to any works taking place. An experienced professional should use purpose built products and will recommend colours and finishes to suit your property, and work well together.
Is innovative without alienating
It’s a great option to have a designer twist in your rooms, a splash of colour or a touch that makes your rooms stand out from the rest. However, too much of this can alienate certain guests so you need to decide if you are going to go out on a limb for the sake of a design that may be controversial or play it safe. For example, a corporate guest that has travelled and worked all day just wants a place to relax and wind down. A bright red feature wall is not going to help him achieve this. This may be the same case with elderly guests. Other younger guests may think it’s funky. Safest way to approach this is to stay true to the theme and overall design of your property.
Offers flexibility to update in the future
When a design is too specific it means that the room décor may be restrictive to upgrade, until the time to do a full refurbishment comes around. However, if the specific designer colours are kept to a few key pieces such as cushions, a rug, prints, bed valances or a sofa, then the entire colour scheme can be revamped with a soft refurbishment, recreating your rooms and offering something different to your regular guests without it costing a full remake. As a rule of thumb larger, longer lasting or expensive items, such as wall paint, carpet and curtains, should be kept to neutral colours.
Has longevity and will not date quickly
This can mainly be a problem when certain elements of the rooms are retained and a design needs to be created around it. A good example of this is when the carpet or curtains are to be kept but all other elements are being changed. It is sometimes hard to think outside the square and many property owners fall back on old habits and stick to the same colour scheme. A large amount of money is spent in refurbishing rooms but they end up looking the same as before especially when your budget is tight – it is advisable to contact a professional for advice.
Creating a new room with existing elements is one of the trickiest things to do successfully. On the other end of the scale if you are creating a new room from scratch, longevity of the design must also be considered. You don’t want to be re-designing and upgrading again in three to five years because the colour palette selected was the fashion and has long since been discarded. Follow the influencing factors such as climate, location and guest rather than trends.
Products and finishes that are specific to the domestic market do not have a place in a commercial property. Typical examples of these are the use of mirror bedside tables white, light coloured or delicate fabrics such as silks and impractical light fittings that are not good for cleaning or energy saving and most of all will not last in a commercial setting.
Each product must be selected for its ability to withstand the hospitality industry including misuse, vigorous cleaning, disguising marks and being practical. Unless you are a boutique property willing to spend a substantial amount on maintenance, upkeep and replacements then practicality is the key for design. This certainly does not mean boring typical and mundane. A good designer will successfully fulfil all of these criteria and have a result that is stunning and specific to your property.
Maximises profit and reduces expenses
Overall a responsible design will ensure that all of the above points are taken into consideration and are efficiently actioned into a successful refurbishment.
After all, the whole point of going through the process is to increase the value of the property and the rooms, maintain and increase standards, stay ahead of your competition and ensure client satisfaction. A happy guest is a return guest with good comments to pass on.