TREND WHISPERER – A blog by Sherri Scheck-Merrill
Three days and 20 informative hours later, Hoteliers from around the world met recently in NYC to search for new discoveries to bring to hotel guests Worldwide.
Being a product designer, developer and marketing exec in the exciting world of Hospitality (23 years and counting), I have found the International Hotel Show to be a mecca for the hotel industry. It’s also a great way to shed light on what travelers can expect in the near future.
Starting with back of the house operations, there is a big push in reducing costs especially via the Housekeeping Dept. As a guest in 2014, you can expect to receive more and more requests (in some cases bargaining in the format of vouchers will be taking place) with the goal of reducing waste, (think water), and labor, (the much appreciated Maid!).
Whether forfeiting a day of cleaning in your room or using the same towels and bedding for multiple days, hotels will be pleading their cases asking Guests to forfeit some of these home away from home perks that many of us look forward to while traveling.
A perfect example took place during my stay last week at a NYC based Hilton. Minutes after checking in, a Front Desk attendant contacted me asking if I would like to receive complimentary WiFi. She “negotiated” an offer which required me to forfeit “one” day of Housekeeping Services in exchange for six days of complimentary WiFi! By forfeiting one day of having my room tidied, I saved over $100 on my bill. To sweeten the deal, the hotel assured me that fresh towels would still be delivered on the day I wouldn’t be receiving Housekeeping Services! It was a win-win for all!
An innovation I stumbled across on the tradeshow floor that caught the eye and interest of several attendees was an award-winning laundry system where “polymer beads” in washing equipment are designed to use a damp vs. soaking wet wash process equating to major savings on cost and of course, water. Developed by polymer scientists, the company earned honors for Most Innovative new product and for supporting hotels working on their “Go Green” campaigns.
Pillows are also the topic of change in Operations and many hotel insiders are keeping this one hush-hush. In lieu of throwing out pillows that have lost their fluff and bounce, (regardless of what they are filled with,), pillows are being “refreshed” with a germ killing, sanitizing & deodorizing unit that gives sleeping pillows a new lease on life! The machine reminded me of the equipment you see at Build-a-Bear retail stores which fills empty plush animals for kids. The same technique is applied to pillows, (another cost cutting technique hotels are adopting to cut costs), as well as the guilt associated with throwing out old inventory which eventually will find its way to the landfill.
On the design side, (aka the front of the house), you can expect to see a status-quo continuation of trends that have been around a few years.
First, oversized dramatic lighting whether futuristic, bold, abstract, vintage-influenced or just an artistic impression of something, is polar-popular! Artistic illumination is here to stay as it gives “high-end art” a run for its “value” while guests ooh and ahh over the mesmerizing magic these fixtures create. From economy to luxury, hotel Designers are incorporating the popular look.
On the color chart, the beat-goes-on for anything “bright and bold,” and I mean ANYTHING! In lieu of a pop of color here or there, everything from classic furnishings to bookshelves, (including the book jackets), are getting finished and covered in blinding hues such as fuchsia, turquoise, lime, lemon yellow and orange!
Brands, brands and more brands are going to be popping up in the bathroom amenity category and we’re not talking drugstore cult fave Neutrogena or products from The Body Shop. Think 5 star luxury brands such as Kerastase, Roberto Cavalli, Bottega Veneta and Missoni to name a few.
Luxury hotels will become even more over-the-top as private label amenities slowly disappear for the consumer delight of high end products! And although Hotels may ration how many little bottles you can request, (per night!), the 2 oz. experience of these products will be worth the limitations the hotels put on guests requesting replenishment! As they say, “quality vs. quantity!”
Cheers to safe, satisfying and bright travels to all in 2014!
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Sherri Scheck-Merrill is a hospitality industry professional with a passion for excellent hotels and resorts. She is passionate about hotels, interior design, fashion, and beauty. As Vice President of Amenity Services Inc., she focuses on hotel business development and guestroom product design. She distinguishes herself by researching, teaching and reporting U.S. trends for her own fashion and export business.
She is a three-time nominee for Businesswoman of the Year by California’s Orange County Business Journal. A UNLV student-athlete/Harvard Executive Education Consumer Marketing graduate, she licenses popular retail brands for hotel guestrooms.
After spending several years on a tennis court, followed by the role of head buyer at the largest West Coast-based sporting goods and fashion apparel export company, her knack for predicting trends landed her a columnist position at Orange Coast Magazine. She is also the author of the biannual trend-forecasting report for a major retailer in Osaka, Japan, and writes a popular blog about trends for Hotels – the magazine of the worldwide hotel industry.