Allyson Lupton, category manager for Office Depot’s furniture and interiors team, discusses how hotels can make a lasting impression through well-designed lobby and reception spaces.

Few spaces within a hotel require more diversity from a design perspective than lobby areas. Receptions serve as a first point of contact with customers, and as such need to fulfil a number of key roles, from social hub and waiting area to customer liaison point. Striking a balance is key to ensuring that the space is flexible enough to meet all of these needs, and provide a smooth customer experience.

For any business, first impressions are essential. This is particularly crucial in the digital age we live in, where social media paves the way for customers to voice their opinions and amplify their feedback. Good first impressions facilitate overall customer satisfaction and the potential for positive reviews and this is crucial – especially during an economic recovery where every penny counts.   

When considering a colour scheme, key decision makers need to adhere to brand guidelines and values, making sure particular colours are synonymous with the hotel brand. Choice of colour in the reception area design is a vital starting point to ensure the brand values of a business are consistent across all customer touch points. 

The reception area of a hotel has the highest footfall out of all the spaces within the premises, therefore buyers need to consider the longevity of the products that sit in the lobby - particularly furniture pieces such as chairs, tables and couches that are frequently used.

Unlike many other consumer-facing businesses, a customer can pass through the door of a hotel at anytime of the day. Therefore, the window for cleaning and preserving furniture is much narrower, and this should be highly considered when purchasing products.  

In terms of layout design, hotel lobbies have a multi-functional use and depending on the target market of the hotel, the reception area can be used for meetings or simply as a social hub for somewhere to enjoy refreshments. It is rare for the hotel lobby to be used for checking in alone.

For hotel managers looking to incorporate latest design trends, furniture within the reception area is often modular, but can be made into various configurations with natural backgrounds and pops of colour used across the furnishing itself or building structures. 

Striking the balance between functionality and the latest design trends to find a happy medium can mean simply changing the colour of a wall or updating soft furnishings. This is relatively low cost, but enables the reception area to remain modern and vibrant.

Hotel lobbies come in all shapes and sizes, and the importance of investing in the right products and maintaining the space can be the difference to enhancing a smooth customer experience – increasing the probability of a guest recommending the service or making another booking.