HostMilano experts share insights on the future of hospitality post-COVID-19

by Dina Maaty | Published 3 months ago

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La Suite Hotel (Photo Credit: Andrea Martiradonna)

HostMilano, a trade fair dedicated to the HORECA sector, constitutes a
reference point for industry operators, and has strengthened its position as a driver of business.

The contributions of top players and professionals who share their know-how and express their reflections become interesting food for thought for everyone involved in the world of hospitality looking to discuss the future of the industry.

Rethinking Spaces and Furnishings
An unmissable opportunity to revive the hospitality sector
While the hospitality sector is closely monitoring regulations in the battle against coronavirus, the priority will always be the safety of staff and guests.

From welcoming areas up to cafeteria, the HORECA sector must be projecting towards the future by changing spaces and furnishings with dynamic formulas. In this delicate process of re-modulation, world-renowned Italian architects together with top players from the hospitality industry disclose their views, projects and products to meet new requirements while enhancing the guest experience.

Hospitality and tourism: Domotics and redesigned spaces represent the winning formula for hotels
Many hotel chains already choose to develop structure certifications, as the priority is to redesign the guest experience in compliance with sanitary obligations and forms of social distancing.

As a result, it seems clear that automation and the IoT will prove to be important allies for hoteliers. “At this historic moment in time, we’re becoming increasingly smart, and quickly getting used to using whatever technology can offer us in terms of allowing us to connect, share and move around in a virtual way and this is just the beginning of the process of transformation in the way we interact with each other in the current dimension of space and time,” writes Architect Simone Micheli on his blog.

He has identified three concepts to define the world as it will be: alteration, hybridisation and crossovers. Practically, this means dedicating special attention to moments such as check-in and check-out, through the use of thermal cameras to check body temperature and apps that will be set up to give access to rooms from your own device.

Once in the room, domotics will limit interaction with devices and controls considered to be “at risk”, while an interactive TV system will provide a continuous contact between the hotel and its guests. More generally, phases 2 and 3 will lead to a redefinition of roles and functions. And hotels can now look forward to a new lease of life.

“By upgrading the common spaces and opening structures to the public, with a full-time service and a guarantee of the structure’s quality, hotels can now play a whole new role, regaining wide segments of the market and offering a highly original and quality service,” says the president of Costa Group, Franco Costa, a company that presented innovative solutions during the last editions of HostMilano and has been active in the field of adapting structures to ensure maximum safety.

In the post-emergency period, even mid-range hotels will have to look at the tools developed by the luxury sector, both in the adoption of modular and personalised solutions and in the attention to privacy and the presence of well-divided common spaces.

For architect Marco Piva, the key to the future lies in the fluidity of spaces and services: “We’re living a moment of deep transformation. We have experienced a traumatic period of suspension from our habits, a period of uncertainty that still continues nowadays and that will undoubtedly force us to review habits and lifestyles”.

“We will gradually return to a ‘new normality’, in which new ways of living spaces and offering services will be affirmed. New methods will be developed in relation to the organisational and formal aspects of those structures that are part of the tourist reception apparatus, such as hotels, resorts, restaurants, lounges and bars.”

In particular, restaurants have already started re-organising spaces and service timetables: “it will be necessary – explains Piva – to follow a well-established pattern of consumption, that provides a type of restaurant that I would define as ‘fluid’, or an offer of food and beverage diluted during the day, thus dangling from the typical times of breakfast, lunch and dinner as well as strongly relying on the on-demand delivery service.”

The hospitality sector therefore requires a structural rethinking that is efficient, effective and safe, not only for this particular period, but for the near future as well. All around the world, it will be necessary to re-evaluate facilities projects, spaces will no longer be encoded as the lobby, reception, restaurant, bar, etc, but they will become dynamic and interconnected, and everything will be controlled thanks to technological systems that ensure the necessary conditions of security, as well as accurate and always personalised services.

Among the projects curated by Studio Marco Piva that already take into account some new strategic aspects, there is the new accommodation structure La Suite, based in Matera, Italy, a new building stylistically rigorous and aesthetically connected to the surrounding territory characterised by the presence of the famous “sasso Materano”.

A small accommodation complex, consisting of only suites of various sizes, fully equipped as if they were “private” apartments managed by the hotel, with a wide offering of on- demand services.

The materials used also contribute to protecting the environment: it will be essential to choose materials and components for architecture and interior design that prevent bacterial accumulation and that are easy to maintain and clean.

In addition, the use of technologies aimed at environmental quality will be essential especially in certain high-frequented spaces such as elevators. Surface and air sanitation systems as well as lighting systems equipped with ultraviolet sources will help reduce agents’ proliferation.

Establishments after COVID-19: rethinking furniture and furnishings
In China, as well as in Italy, the modular Plexiglas panels seem to be the only way out for the safe reopening of bars and restaurants. “As a result of the emergency and the need to rethink spaces, our Research Centre developed a possible solution to be proposed to our clients working in the Contract sector,” says Stefano Zajotti, design & communication manager at EMU.

“It’s a Plexiglas panel that produces a certain degree of social distancing and allows for the highest number of places inside.”

Floriana Nardi, CEO of Nardi and head of marketing & communication, is taking a similar approach: “Our contract sector catalog already includes many ideas for tables and chairs of different sizes that are easy to move around, with folding chairs, and tables with fold-down tops. As for outdoor areas, I think the answer is certainly positioning tables further apart, but also, where possible, introducing movable partitions that also create a physical barrier between the tables, and indicate routes that can be changed according to needs, considering in particular the way to the till and to the bathrooms.”

“We propose an eco-friendly modular partition that is practical and can be adapted to different requirements. The many requests we are receiving include those for products that are easy to sanitize repeatedly. In this sense polypropylene, the material we mainly use for our furnishing complements, is an excellent answer as it can be cleaned very frequently, and it is non-toxic, anti-static and completely recyclable.”

The next edition of HostMilano will take place from October 22-26, 2021. For more information, please visit the exhibition’s website.

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