With HD Expo, NYU Investment Conference, the HD Awards ceremony, a CitySCENE at NeoCon, HD/NEWH Owners' Roundtable and the NEWH New York Regional Tradeshow, it has been a hectic six weeks. But then again, these events are the best part of our industry, bringing everyone together to celebrate and network, ultimately reminding me why I love this industry so.
I topped off the whirlwind few weeks by moderating and presenting at the annual Culintro/HD panel on restaurant design on Tuesday. This year's topic: design and eating. The panel featured Paul Bentel, Bentel & Bentel, who discussed his firm's James Beard Award-winning revamp of New York's much-celebrated Le Bernardin; Lionel Ohayon of ICRAVE talked about one of his newest for the ONE Group, Asellina (which is where the afterparty was held); and Cass Calder Smith of CCS Architecture explained the challenges and solutions of revamping the F&B of the Hyatt Regency Atlanta.
For my bit, I was asked to present the trends we have been seeing at HD. With all the events I had recently attended, it was actually nice to take a look back at the last six months. Here were a few highlights of the speech:
1. Influx of Technology: For our December issue, we looked at what consumer trends were affecting hospitality design, talking to forecasters and futurists. One of the interesting topics that came up was the influx of technology—and not for a wowing factor, but for convenience and choice. For instance, at FoodParc at the Event hotel in New York, customers can order at a kiosk or in person. But Delta terminals in the New York-area airports (many designed by Lionel and ICRAVE) may be the best examples. Rows of iPad kiosks are stationed near the departure gates and travelers can order menus created by local chefs, with 10-minute guaranteed food delivery. As Jeremy Gutsche, chief trend hunter from trendhunter.com, “People crave immediacy and control, both of which you get when you take your order ‘into your own hands’ on a tablet or touchscreen device."
2. New Face of Dining: The influx of technology has led to an outcry for meaningful products and experiences. Tom Savigaar, of the Future Laboratory, said that, especially after the recession, people want to know the history, the heritage of a product. Experiential, sense of place, local, comfortable—from fine dining to casual dining, those continue to be the key words. So much technology has led to want for less is more, which continues the trend of stripped back décor, the been there forever, authentic feel. Overall, the new generation of diners want an experience, where a sense of casual comfort reigns. Fine dining doesn’t and shouldn’t have to mean white table cloths and servers in tuxes; a stuffy atmosphere. Luxury can mean special ingredients, staff dressed more casual, yet still knowledgeable, and crafted cocktails.
3. Use of Art: At HD Expo, we also did a panel talking about the complete experience—from the artwork, to the menus, to the music, it has to be a whole package. Let’s just say it has to be all about the details.We have seen many restaurants use artwork as an inexpensive solution to really capture the spirit of the design, chef, or the menu. And we aren't talking about hanging a photo here or there—large murals, even graffiti images are the rage.
4. Campus Dining: The good news is that good design is transcending everywhere. One place we increasingly see this as true is on college campuses. Gone are the mediocre food halls—there is such competition today that a atmospheric, chic dining experience can give a college a leg up over the competition.
5. Rethinking the Lobby: Hotel brands are now rethinking how guests use lobbies, realizing that they should be more than just pass through spaces—that the new generation of travelers want to use the space for a variety of reasons. To work, to be social. From established brands like Holiday Inn and Hilton, to new ones like TRYP by Wyndham, brands are turning the lobby into an integrated social outlet that not only increases revenue, but it also gives today’s guests the complete experience they’re craving. And F&B is the driving part.