Know your customer and design with clients in mind – simple, yet effective advice from industry experts; Newman Gauge
September 2015 marks twenty years in business for commercial interior design consultants Newman Gauge who collectively boast more than 100 years’ experience working with blue chip brands Warner Leisure, Center Parcs and Butlins to name a few. A reputation for getting under their clients skin, Newman Gauge interrogate project briefs, question the operations, rewrite the objectives, get to know the staff and above all they get to know the guests and desired guests a little more than your average interior designer.
Sam Stokoe, Director and Design Lead at Newman Gauge shares her insights into what makes a hotel tick, after all she has recently overseen the project design of Butlins’ £2.4 million redesign at their Shoreline Hotel at Bognor Regis.
“Understanding the basics helps to focus the design and refine the process.”
“We enjoy the challenge of making a space work, releasing the potential of a building is quite therapeutic” says Sam. “We strive to maximise capacity, understand footfall, and ultimately consider guest experience above all. Our designs not only ensure guests pnly ever see the best of their surroundings, but the back of house operations are functional yet unseen.”
For the Family – ‘F’ is for FUN
The British Family Holiday is currently enjoying a renaissance; short breaks with both the immediate and extended family have sustained the recession and they’re here to stay attracting the rich and famous, with well-known footballing family The Rooney’s opting for Butlins over Barbados recently.
Newman Gauge’s experience with Butlins over the past decade has seen the guest profile grow and flourish. “We recognise in this environment Mum is the key decision maker regarding the choice for a family holiday” Sam states.
“My theory is very simple, if the kids are happy, the parents are happy. A philosophy, which encourages ‘grown-ups’ to stop being so ‘boring’ and the family unit start to play together and reconnect – exactly what a family holiday is all about.
“We all love a fancy get away and an excuse to dress up, but with a little encouragement to hop, skip and jump along a pathway, and cues that this behaviour is OK we can easily bring out the inner child in mums, dads, grannies and granddads. This light hearted approach to design sounds great fun, but we really have to make the environment work. The space needs to be easy to use (particularly for Mum) consideration needs to be given to navigating pushchairs and slow moving toddlers, providing food warming areas, high chair stores and of course toilet seats and nappy disposal. On top of this there is the age appeal, Family Hotels cater for 0 – 18 year olds with vast range of likes and needs, particularly siblings born more than a few years apart and all sharing the same volume of space with
Mum and Dad for the duration of the holiday. The concept needs to feel young – but not childish, clean – but not clinical and comfortable – but in a way that is better than home.”
Pretty Practical – Beautiful Design with Operations in Mind
The practicalities of designing hospitality areas far exceed guest expectations or knowledge, and so they should. A successful space gives the illusion of a seamless operation.
The beautiful Heritage Hotels, which Warner Leisure own typically provide two individual spaces for dining and entertainment, great for operations but impractical for guests who often commented how great it would be to enjoy a more leisurely dinner whilst watching the evening entertainment. Understanding both Warner’s guests frustrations and operational needs, Newman Gauge delivered a design for both. The ‘Caberet-Diner’ was created, a space to feel light and refreshing for breakfast with a cleverly concealed stage behind a fanciful immense gilt framed oil painting. A space which functions throughout the day for lunch and dinner before gradually transforming into a luxury night spot. The sight lines and footfall along with the rake of the levels all allowed the guests to become immersed in the entertainment whilst being vaguely aware that the dishes and buffet servery were all quietly hidden away. An design illusion for both guests and operations with phenomenal tripadvisor reviews endorsing the new Cabaret-Diner, an element of ‘slight of hand’ to suit guests and operations.
Income generating design for Independents – Boutique Bedrooms on a Budget
Not all clients have the budget to deliver the level of refurbishment involved at Warner’s Alvaston Hall, however the principles can still be applied with a little forethought and some basic master planning.
Sam says: “We work with a number of smaller independent clients to help them facilitate a more gradual redevelopment of their guest facing areas. It is important to have an end goal and understand what the ambition for the overall site is. Once this is understood we work with our clients to establish a phasing plan, and help them build up their return on the initial investment. We review ways to grow revenue from Secondary Spend and opportunities for upselling whether in Spas, Restaurants, Gift Shops or accommodation.
“The guest experience must exceed their expectations, we want our environments to offer something memorable that encourages them to share their story with friends and more importantly make them return again and again.”
Ultimately understand your target market.
“At Newman Gauge, we are very aware of all the sectors we design for, we know hotel design has to have a personal touch, an intimate experience that goes beyond the initial purchase. We develop accommodation for all users including business, occasion, spa and holiday guests and we always aim to make their surroundings not just their bedrooms, an ‘escape’ from the chaos of the outside world. We work closely with clients to understand their aims, their ambitions, their core values and their brand and design with both their needs and their guests in mind.”