5 Takeaways From Day Two of HD Expo + Conference 2024

5 Takeaways From Day Two of HD Expo + Conference 2024

On Wednesday, May 1st, HD Expo + Conference 2024 remained abuzz with engaging conversations and ideas across the show floor. Here, we pull together key insights from sessions held on day two.

1. Every decision has an environmental impact

Sustainability was a huge part of the day’s design conversation, but what does it mean to make impactful and effective decisions? In HD Idea Exchange: Conversations on Carbon x Design x the Future, Jon Strassner of Jon Strassner Consulting stated that “a designer has about 27 times the purchasing power of a typical consumer, so don’t think you don’t have the power to make an impact.” He goes on to talk about our biggest problem being landfills. “Five percent of landfills is furniture, because [there is so much] fast furniture” with short life spans. Verda Alexander of Studio O+A presented a straightforward solution: Reuse or reupholster furniture. “We have to start using less stuff and making less stuff—period,” she says.

2. Attract nightlife guests through storytelling

The I Love the Nightlife: Shifts in Cocktailing and Afterhours panel dove into the evolving nature of nightlife, and above all, emphasized the importance of curating a brand story. “Design matters,” says Jennie Yip of Jenjuice Hospitality & COHJO. “Branding matters. Even if you have a spot in a corner of a dead street, people will come if they’re drawn to your story.” Venues need to create a specific atmosphere that people seek, such as “places with no phone policies, like Pinky Ring, which adds to the experience because everyone is connected to the moment,” notes Mike Snedegar of Mike Snedegar Consulting. Although understanding your brand’s story and soul lies at the foundation of attracting consumers, you also need to understand “what’s happening at the market you’re in,” adds Philip Loomis of Drai’s Enterprises. It’s about “knowing how to bring [your story] to the place that you’re in. Your brand may be beloved in 10 different cities, but it can’t be expressed in the same way across those cities.”

3. Stay one step ahead of luxury consumers

In the candid Leaning Luxury: Defining the Segment conversation, a panel of industry leaders explored what brands need to do to stay ahead in the high-end market. “Luxury means having everything at your fingertips without really seeing how it all happens, and that’s all in the design of a space,” says Highgate’s Diane Hang Nguyen. To create this luxury experience, “it’s about understanding the passion of your guest,” notes Anne Lefferson of Belmond. “What do guests truly care about? Is it sustainability, art, community? Pinpoint that and create the experience around that.” Montage International’s Michael Bodsworth stresses the importance of always staying “one step ahead and giving the guest what they didn’t know they needed, and planning those moments and touchpoints through design elements like lighting, scent, amenities, and furnishings.”

4. All-inclusive resorts are leveling up

Major hotel brand veterans gathered for Brand Identity: Hotel Execs Take on the Future to share their thoughts on what’s ahead for the industry, and large part of the conversation explored the renaissance of all-inclusive resorts. “All-inclusives are booming,” says Hilton’s Larry Traxler. “They used to be about cheap food and cheap booze and all you can eat. Now, it’s really about leveling up the F&B concepts and wellness components to creating signature experiences.”

Other panelists are also witnessing the return of all-inclusives in a new way. “We’re seeing lifestyle brands going to all-inclusives,” adds Mark Eacott of Ennismore. “We’re seeing the launch of adults-only ones. Some are creating the feeling of being at a festival, with music and wristbands—all the party elements. But there are also the family-oriented ones. It’s great to see the range of options. With the rising cost of living, people like the idea of paying for seven days and not have to think about all the bills at the end.”

5. Find time to disconnect

The hospitality industry is teeming with wellness-centric design strategies, amenities, and programming that help guests unlock their physical and mental potential. At Wellness-Minded Travelers: What They Need Now, the concept of disconnecting was highlighted by Kane Sarhan of the Well and Grace Escaño-Maniatis of Auberge Resorts Collection. While they recognize the fundamental role technology plays in advancing hospitality’s wellness offerings, “for our guest experiences, we disconnect you from tech, even though it’s built into all our systems that deliver the service to you” Sarhan says. In the same vein, Escaño-Maniatis shares “we don’t leverage phones for the guest experiences on our properties.” She is currently working on “a new property that feels nostalgic, with elements like wood block toys and games and fishing poles in the guestrooms, to [allow guests] to enjoy the environment before all the gadgets and gizmos.”

Check out our HD Expo day one takeaways here.

The post 5 Takeaways From Day Two of HD Expo + Conference 2024 appeared first on Hospitality Design.