Changing trends in the way travelers work during a hotel stay is driving brands to rethink guestroom design. And more are eliminating the traditional guestroom desk altogether.
These brands’ leaders see the traditional desk as unnecessary as more customers either want to work from the comfort of their bed or get stuff done while hanging out in the lobby.
Take Hilton Worldwide. This past January the company unveiled plans for its newest brand, the midscale Tru by Hilton. During the brand design process a desk was originally included in the room prototype, but it became quickly evident potential customers didn’t require or even want one.
“Our target guest doesn’t want to sit in the guestroom and work,” says Alexandra Jaritz, global head of Tru by Hilton. “They are working on beds many times, and our research has shown they would prefer to work in a vibrant social space when they need to spread out.”
The Hive will be a 2,770 square-foot open space lobby. It will have multiple areas including large table-top surfaces, and quieter, more secluded areas featuring high speed Wi-Fi and lots of places to plug in and charge devices. There are currently 48 Tru by Hiltons under development with 170 more deals committed or in progress.
Jaritz says Hilton’s internal research indicates that 90% of business travelers would still stay in the hotel despite the lack of a traditional desk in the guest room.
The move away from a guestroom desk lowers the cost to build a property, allowing for smaller guestrooms that still feel spacious. The typical Tru by Hilton room measures 231 square feet for a king-sized bed room, and 285 square feet for a double queen room.
This same philosophy drove Red Lion Hotels Corporation to forgo guestroom desks as a standard feature of its year-old Hotel RL brand.
Red Lion President and CEO Greg Mount, says one factor is technology, which allows people to work on their own terms. With Wi-Fi, people are no longer forced to connect to the internet via a desktop cable, he says.
“People are finding they actually prefer working in the lobby,” he says. “It’s more conducive to how we work anyway. This is an extension of people’s lives going forward, so we have created a feel that is more like a coffee house than a hotel for our public space.”
Hotel RL is also the “test kitchen” for the company, and Mount believes eliminating the guestroom desk could eventually be applied to the company’s other brands including Red Lion.
At Marriott International, Matthew Carroll, vice president of global brand management for Marriott Hotels and Resorts, says their newest room iteration helps guests be productive both in and out of the room.
“We are really not eliminating desks, but evolving work surfaces into a new guestroom design that appeals to consumer behaviors,” he says. “It is about having purposeful, flexible work surfaces in the room that prompt focused work or relaxing work.”