Hospitality Design and Covid-19: Adjusting to the New Normal
Updated: Sep 11
By JD Bales
The Coronavirus is changing the way we all go about our daily lives. Every industry has had to make changes to comply with safety regulations and expectations. The hospitality industry has, arguably, had to make the most adjustments to be able to continue to do business during the Covid-19 pandemic.
As a consumer, there are plenty of differences that you can see when you go out to dine and go on vacation. The most obvious change is the requirement and enforcement of Social Distancing. Gone are the days of crowded dining rooms. The new normal is open seating and specifically spaced tables.
As a business, there are many adaptations that you've had to implement that are not obvious to the customer but that are just as important as Social Distancing. One is the change of materials used. Items that are easier to clean and sanitize, like solid surfaces, will be more prevalent. Porous materials (like fabrics and papers) will be phased out or removed immediately because they are harder to sanitize and take longer to clean. Microban (a multipurpose cleaner and sanitizer) and Crypton (a fabric protectant) are already being used consistently to ensure the safety of guests and staff, as well as make sure their space is clean and sanitary.
When your priority shifts from Form to Function, your design must change accordingly. Thankfully, even though your prime concern has changed, you don’t have to sacrifice your aesthetic. Copper is not only a beautiful material to work with, but it is also an extremely clean material; it has natural antiviral and antibacterial properties. According to an article by BBC.com, copper can kill over 99.9% of bacteria within two hours! Luxury Vinyl Tile (LVT) floors have become popular in the past few years, but carpet, being so inexpensive, has remained the top choice for flooring in many establishments. However, because LVT not only looks beautiful, but can be cleaned and sanitized quickly and thoroughly, carpet is on the outs, and LVT is becoming the industry standard.
Technology usage is a large part of changes made due to Coronavirus. Hands-free gadgets are shifting from luxury to standard to ensure the health and well being of every guest and staff member. Gesture and voice activated technologies are on the rise and will continue to do so to help prevent the spread of germs. Touch free technology has already become standard for purchases, check in and out procedures, and reservations. Touchless faucets and toilets have been around for years, but the cost no longer outweighs the benefit now that safety and cleanliness are the priority. Exciting new items, such as touchless door locks, have been installed in many hotels already and will become commonplace over the next few years. Everything, from the soap and hand lotion dispensers to the thermostat and television, will be a hand wave or verbal command away.
Covid-19 has brought about societal changes at a rapid pace, and businesses are changing with it. And as a consumer, you can trust that most businesses are doing everything they can to make sure your experience is safe so that you can relax and enjoy it. As a business, rest assured that you don’t have to sacrifice your brand and aesthetic to keep your guests and staff happy and healthy.