Design efficiencies will help hotels succeed post-COVID

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Monique Farley, HotelFurniture.com

By Monique Farley, HotelFurniture.com

VANCOUVER — Guests expect a lot more these days. Part of that reason is we, as people and consumers, believe that our general behaviour in everyday life should be continued in every experience we have: we have the internet, we have cable, we have Netflix and other streaming services, and we have quality TVs and tablets. We are so hyper-connected that anything less than that could be considered a downgrade.

And to me, that rings true for hotels too. We are so hyperconnected that anything less doesn’t seem right. We have internet, we have cable, we have Netflix, we have everything. Why would we think it’s okay to not have that included in a hotel stay?

Cleanliness was always part of guest expectations, but with COVID, there’s an even stronger demand for rooms that are fresh, clean and up-to-date. Occupancies are down and staff resources are reduced, but the need to keep a hotel looking fresh and up-to-date continues. Indeed, one might argue that looking fresh and clean are more important than ever, since that is what guests expect these days.

While guests are looking for all the technology they have at home and layering on a demand for things fresh and clean, COVID has forced hotel owners and operators to think in terms of efficiencies — how to streamline operations to make those dollars go further when occupancy and daily rate are both down. The theory is that once COVID is over, these efficiencies will stand them in good stead once the recovery begins in earnest.

HotelFurniture.com came about because one of our main investors has run a design firm for the past 30 or so years and saw an opportunity to make the design and procurement process more efficient and streamlined.

Mock up showing Comfort Inn design.

HotelFurniture.com, HF for short, is a new company based in Vancouver, serving hotels across North America. It consists of a team of hospitality experts joining together to launch a digital platform that will streamline the process of completing guestroom renovation and new build projects. Everything from design through to procuring and receiving furniture, fixtures and equipment to keep hotels fresh and modern.

The challenge was to get rid of analogue and outdated solutions for renovation and new build projects that were lengthening project timelines and preventing hoteliers from achieving optimal operational efficiencies. All to often, hoteliers were dealing with multiple vendors and contacts leading to redundant efforts. There were too many contacts or people involved, making the process longer to complete. A lack of transparency from vendors often led to frustration and delays. And outdated, manual processes resulted in delay, or loss of, valuable information.

We believe there is a more efficient way of doing things. Our vision is to amaze hoteliers by innovating the design and procurement process, at scale. Our mission is to provide a fresh, all-in-one digital, solution for the design and FF&E procurement process – offering hoteliers convenience and efficiencies.

Instead of the design quotation process taking weeks and weeks, with only a small amount of transparency and efficiency, we take the brand standards and have the details and designs uploaded into our platform. This allows hoteliers to not only see their designs in real-time, they also can also see a cost breakdown per room type and per item for their preliminary quote straightaway. We’ve done a lot of user testing and people are amazed that they can see it all so quickly!

HotelFurniture.com sees an opportunity for hoteliers to become more efficient and productive, saving time and money, especially since so many staff have been laid off and there are fewer resources to manage the businesses in the future.

HotelFurniture Mock Design Process.

Technology is playing and increasingly important role during COVID-19 — everyone is now used to scanning their restaurant menus to avoid contact. Doesn’t it make sense that hoteliers would expect to tap digital technology to make the design and procurement process more streamlined? 

HotelFurniture.com serves hotel owners, managers, and the franchisees of mainstream hotel brands. We’re excited to show you what’s possible when smart technology meets responsive customer service. While the company wants to work with all major hotel brands (Choice, Hilton, IHG and Marriott), our initial offering is targeted to four brand flags: Comfort, Hampton, Holiday Inn Express and Sleep Inn. We will continue to grow the brand flags that we work with throughout the coming months.

It’s important to note that all items we currently have on our platform are all offered and procured from vendors within North America, and that the company has partnerships with the Hotel Association of Canada, AAHOA and the American Hotel & Lodging Association.

Simply choose your brand flag and populate its approved designs and vendors, then see what your guest rooms will look like in 3D colour and get an estimated quote. Once you choose to move forward with your project, our designer will cross-check your floorplans, submit to the brand for approval, and work through any questions you may have. Then, you get back to the running of your hotel as we procure your items, and organize and track your delivery.

“COVID-19 has caused a streamlining of investments in technological innovation within hospitality… Innovation will allow hoteliers to leverage technology in order to navigate the hospitality industry’s new reality and make significant progress towards and beyond recovery,” said Mark Heymann, CEO of Unifocus and expert in productivity management, just last month.

Harnessing technology for the design and procurement process makes sense, especially during COVID. Another analogy I heard was, “We were always going to experience this switch [to technology], it’s just been accelerated due to the pandemic.”

Monique Farley is the Lead Design Project Manager for HotelFurniture.com.