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The Future Is Now... Hospitality

The Future is now... What can hospitality teach us about the future of retail?

Some industries have felt far more impact of the pandemic than others. Some have even exceeded expectations. Our teams' primary focus is retail strategy and design. Some aspects of retail have struggled while others have flourished in the wake of the pandemic. Shopping centers have been hit hard. With some located in geographical areas under lockdown orders, the CDC reminding us that our only real weapon against the pandemic is to minimize our physical interaction in society as much as possible shopping centers have struggled. Layer on to that retailers are struggling also leading to vacancies and rent renegotiations. I am aware this is not news and it should not be a surprise to hear that the travel and hospitality industry has spent months with very few if any visitors. So in this way the two industries are similar however, their response to the pandemic has been very different. There is so much being said about the innovation in hospitality. As an industry they appear to be focused on “what’s next.

It’s worth asking what can the shopping center world learn from the innovation in hospitality? First, we can all expect pent-up demand. There are signs of this in luxury travel - private jet bookings, curated and heavily serviced social distanced travel, villa rentals, and luxury yachts. My personal favorite- concept of tree house cabins.

Peter Pichler Architecture

What I find even more fascinating is the innovation that is coming out of the hospitality and travel industry. Starting with our physical existence. Growing evidence points to consumers having learned air flow and what cleanliness really means. Because of the heavy emphasis on knowledge, it is no longer acceptable for a hotel to simply say - yep! we’ve cleaned the place come on back!

It’s about embracing a whole new way of health driven experiential thinking.” - Lauren Rottet

The hotel industry in recent years has focused on wellness aspects of staying away from home. Now that focus will grow to include elevated levels of clean for their own personal wellness. Natural ventilation, air flow, low VOC finishes, and access to the natural world all tied to sustainability and pushing beyond net carbon neutral and pushing for environmental net-gain.

Think balconies, vertical landscaping and plan life in your room. In addition to using tools we have new exploration into materials and the natural world including bio-active microbe-eating glass. Expect technology to play a role also with rooms being upgraded to voice command activated controls for lighting, window coverings, temperature and security.

VST Enterprises

For us all to safely engage, travel and simply be social will not solely be the responsibility of the industries in these sectors as citizens of the world - if we want to travel - will need to take ownership of how our individual actions can impact so many - VST Enterprises has developed the first health passport for travel - the V Passport. The goal was to create a tool that was useful cross-corporate and cross-governmental that is safe and cyber-secure.

This is really just a glimpse into what this industry has been focusing on during the pandemic to prepare for the pent up demand there will be once we can travel again safely. I could go on and on and yet I an industry that has also be so heavily impacted by the pandemic - shopping centers. I have found little new thinking, or inspiration for how we might move forward and innovate. Our small studio certainly doesn’t profess to have the answers but we do think big and work hard at solving the challenges our clients put in front of us everyday. It’s time for the shopping center to start to think differently!

What will inspire you to innovate?

Looking forward to more discovery + innovation!

Julie Dugas

One of the Heads

Studio | H2G

I’m one of the heads at Studio | H2G - I’m not a writer (which you may have picked up on quickly!) I am passionate about the business of retail, consumer behavior, trends and conversations around that thinking.

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