The word is out about HD Expo‘s showstopping products and buzzworthy conference panels, where industry insiders (including designers, brand heads, developers, and more) talked top trends, providing real insights along with unique perspectives. A strong focus on guest experience was a reoccurring topic, but others went more in depth on design process, scientific impact, target audience, and collaboration. For those of you who couldn’t make it out to Vegas this year or simply need a refresher, here’s a recap from the sessions.
1. The Power of Fruitful Collaborations
The right assembled team is fundamental to the success of a project. “When we look for collaborators, we want people who can take the idea and run with it,” says Mark Harmon, founder of Auberge Resorts, while Viceroy CEO Bill Walshe says shared ideology can drive mutual and fruitful disruptions with purpose if necessary, ultimately elevating the design.
The concept of collaboration was never more clear than with the long-standing relationship between industry icons Steve Wynn and Roger Thomas. During the keynote, both shared deep respect and admiration for each other’s vision and talent through the years. “Quality spoke to a level of Steve’s soul that made you want to come back,” says Thomas of Wynn’s empire.
2. The Art of Planning
Creating spaces with intention and purpose is now more crucial than ever, as guests are looking for more than an authentic experience but a transformational and immersive one, achieved through programming and design.
3. Science’s Influence on Design
The hospitality industry is using scientific practice, specifically the biophilia hypothesis, which suggests human beings innately seek out a strong connection to nature and other forms of life, to provide guests a true connection to space. “Design is an emotional practice, and once you let feelings seep in, that’s really how a place gets it soul,” says Waad El Hadidy, design director at Starwood Capital, who used this concept when conceiving the 1 Hotel Brookly Bridge, where living plants covering walls throughout.
And what’s on the horizon? “Artificial intelligence working on behalf of the user is the next big leap in personalizing service,” says Erin Hoover of Erin Hoover Co.
4. Understanding Your Audience
“One of the things we suffer from is trying to be something for everyone,” explains Walshe of Viceory. “Inevitably, you will fail.” Companies are now conceiving new brands that seek out a demographic looking for more inexpensive accommodations. Indeed, Hoxton and Thompson are launching wallet-friendly sister properties: NoCo and tommie, respectively, which take the best parts of the brand and tweak them for an affordable luxury traveler.
5. Seeking Authentic Experiences
One of the most popular sessions, “CEO Talks,” tackled many hot topics but nothing more on trend than the art of creating an authentic experience. “There are two things guests want,” says Auberge’s Harmon. “They want a transformative experience and they want connection.” The theme has also crossed over to the food industry as guests look for a similar feeling while dining. “We want to connect you to the chef in the kitchen to the farmer in the field,” according to Rob Polacek, partner and chief creative officer at Puccini Group.