The post-pandemic travel boom is upon us. According to the U.S. Travel Association, nearly nine in 10 Americans plan to travel in the next six months and when they do – whether for business or pleasure –they will be prioritizing their physical and mental wellbeing. Given this, hospitality venues like hotels and conference centers should take a fresh look at their amenities. Beyond the services you offer, the design of spaces throughout your facility – from the lobby and business meetings rooms to the fitness center and spa – can make all the difference in creating an inviting and pleasant atmosphere and foster that sense of wellbeing guests are looking for.
The Benefits of Biophilic Design
While travel was largely on hold in 2020, people increasingly found value in spending time outdoors. Exposure to daylight, as well as the colors and dynamics of nature, give our body clocks the essential time cues we need to stay in sync with the outside world – to be active during the day and rest well at night – and maintain physiological, mental and emotional wellbeing. Additionally, studies have shown that being outdoors lowers levels of cortisol, a hormone that’s a marker for stress – easing anxiety, depression and other mental health issues.
Integrating elements of nature and natural analogues within interior spaces, also known as biophilic design, can be powerful for the hospitality industry. It’s a chance to ensure that guests don’t lose this connection they’ve built with the outside world. Research has shown that biophilic environments have a similar, restorative effect, reducing stress and anxiety and improving cognitive function and creativity.
A Brighter Guest Experience
Put yourself in a guest’s shoes for a moment. Imagine attending a week-long event, where meeting rooms do not have windows and static lighting. On top of that, the agenda doesn’t offer much opportunity to step outside and get some natural daylight and fresh air. It can be challenging to stay energized and engaged!
Lighting built on biophilic design principles can help hotels and conference centers offer a unique experience: one that enables guests to see, function and feel better by fully immersing them in the natural world – right in the existing facility. The technology can automatically mimic the daily rhythm of the sun to ensure that guests have the right light at the right time of day, stimulating a comfortable atmosphere.
A combination of ceiling and wall fixtures can also be applied to simulate a view of the sky and colors and other dynamics that you might experience when outside. This can contribute to a feeling of spaciousness and trigger biological and emotional responses like an energy or concentration boost or relaxed mindset, all while enhancing the overall aesthetics of the space.
Beyond meeting rooms, these lighting solutions can enrich health and wellness facilities: gyms as well as spas. According to a Westin Hotels & Resorts study, 52% of respondents said they are putting more emphasis on self-care now compared to before the pandemic, while 15% of those surveyed are planning to maintain their fitness/wellness regimen when on the road again. After all, traveling can be tough on the mind and body, especially for those crossing time zones. Dynamic lighting with tailored scenes can support guests in their pursuit of great health and wellbeing, contributing to better quality of sleep, energy level, mood and, ultimately, a more enjoyable trip.
Light is as fundamental to life as food, water and air. Hotels and conference centers that can adapt their amenities to bring the benefits of natural light indoors and enhance the guest experience will be fruitful in the long term.