Seasoned hotelier and founder of the MADISON MELLE agency, Cara Federici, discusses the pivotal role of well-designed OSE in crafting a distinctive brand identity and flawless guest experience.

Designing a hotel is much like creating a theatre stage before a Broadway show: the props needs to be in perfect position, lighting precisely aimed, curtains hiding what should stay behind the scenes, all with one purpose in mind – executing a flawless show and audience experience. 

When it comes to a hotel’s design, the designers are those who create the stage – they select furnishings, work around space planning, ensure durability and that each piece is appropriate for its setting. However, much like opening night at the theatre, the days leading up to a hotel’s opening leave most of the staff in a chaotic blur coupled with rattled nerves, all in hopes of getting everything just right. 

A casualty of this frenzy is typically OSE, one of the last thoughts that go into a hotel’s design and ironically, one of the first things a guest experiences when staying at a hotel. What the hotel’s designer, (much like the stage designer) had envisioned, is now left to the general manager to handle (or stage hand) without necessarily having the overall design narrative/larger picture in mind. This creates a noticeable gap between the original design theory and the operation, and this disconnect affects the guest experience in a negative way. 

“OSE selections not only add value to the brand, but they are also ideal for guest use, creating a perfect synergy of high-quality products with functional design”

In other cases, OSE is specified by designers who may not have hotel operations background and have never been an employee at a hotel who uses or manages the result. This often leads them to specify items that are not usable or feasible from an operations standpoint, resulting in high-cost items that are not sustainable, and lead to changes by the hotel team after the fact, which also lead to an unsatisfactory result/inconsistent product and exceeded budgets.

It’s this small oversight that can be avoided by recognizing the importance of OSE and its connection to the guest experience. Well-designed OSE is a definitive way to make a brand stand out, which is part of a larger roll-out opening plan that ensures everything is executed flawlessly and as intended. Working with a team that specialises in openings from both an operations standpoint as well as client experience is that final rehearsal before opening night that can make or break a show. 

A specialised opening team can go beyond sourcing OSE to provide budgeting, conception, project management and full implementation services on site at every project. This includes staging of each piece personally by hand – at least in the model room specifically – for both custom design hotel and F&B OSE.

Not all the items have to be off the shelf – products can be developed from drawings, renderings and layouts, all the way up to manufacturing to solve for any design problems.

OSE selections not only add value to the brand, but they are also ideal for guest use, creating a perfect synergy of high-quality products with functional design. Teams creates the foundation with their design for the client to build on in the formation of their overall concept/branding. 

OSE designs are carried all the way through to the back of house, keeping the staff immersed in the brand and making sure the show is always a hit.

About the author

With a flair for creating and operating one-of-a-kind brands, Cara Federici works with a host of prestigious hotel and residential mixed use properties across the globe. Before founding her hospitality consultancy, The Madison Melle Agency, in 2017, Cara worked as VP,  global hotel brand management and operations for Cachet Hospitality, as well in roles for Proper Hospitality and real estate developer and interior designer, Avi Brosh.