First up is Hospitality and Service: The quality of a brand’s hospitality and service can greatly influence a guest’s decision to return to that brand. Friendly and welcoming staff, knowledgeable concierge, comfortable accommodations, and efficient transportation offerings all contribute to a positive guest experience. Guests value comfortable and well-appointed rooms with amenities such as comfortable beds, high-quality linens, ample storage space, a functional workspace, and a clean and well-maintained environment. When guests feel well taken care of, they are more likely to choose the same destination or the same hotel brand again.
As part of my series about “How To Create A Travel Experience That Keeps People Coming Back For More”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Tina Delia.
Tina Delia, NCIDQ, is the Director of Lifestyle Interiors for KGD Architecture. Tina and her team offer boutique Interior Design Services for the Hospitality & Multi-Family industries in Washington, DC & beyond. With more than 15 years of experience in the hospitality industry, Tina is fueled by a vision to create unforgettable design experiences. Tina has a scrupulous eye for detail and a knack for creating spaces that make strong, lasting impressions. She believes good design should leave an emotional imprint, not just a physical one. Interior Design isn’t only about creating beautiful spaces. It’s about touching the lives of the people that live, breathe, and walk through those spaces.
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
My journey to interior architecture + design was not a linear one. I am an attorney turned interior designer. I practiced law for five years before going back to school for my Masters in Interior Architecture and Design. It’s the perfect career path for someone that wants to combine analytical and creative endeavors. Interior Design is about public safety and welfare regarding code compliance in commercial spaces and yet it aesthetically touches the lives of people who inhabit those spaces.
Thank you for that. Let’s jump to the core of our discussion. Can you share with our readers about the innovations that you are bringing to the travel and hospitality industries?
The travel industry is constantly evolving, and new innovations are emerging to enhance the travel experience. At the top of the list is technology.
Contactless Technology: The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the adoption of contactless technology in the travel industry. Guests can use a hotel’s mobile app or website to provide necessary information, select room preferences, make payments, and receive a digital room key, eliminating the need for traditional front desk interactions further minimizing physical contact and enhancing safety.
Mobile Concierge Services: Hotels are integrating mobile apps or chatbots (Artificial Intelligence) to provide guests with virtual concierge services. Guests can use these platforms to request services, make inquiries, order room service, or schedule amenities without needing to interact directly with hotel staff. Need an iron? Just text the chatbot, no need to make a call to the front desk anymore!
Smart In-Room Controls: More and more we are being asked by hotels to design for the implementation of contactless technology to allow guests to control various aspects of their room environment, such as temperature, lighting, and entertainment systems, using their smartphones or voice commands.
These are just a few ways we are enhancing the guest experience in the hospitality industry. As technology continues to advance, we can expect further exciting developments that will redefine how we explore the world.
As you know, COVID19 changed the world as we know it. Can you share a few examples of how travel and hospitality companies will be adjusting over the next five years to the new ways that consumers will prefer to travel?
The hotel industry is emerging from a rough pandemic, so it’s a good time to celebrate a brighter future driven by hospitality innovation. Overall, travel and hospitality companies will adapt to the evolving preferences of consumers by leveraging technology, prioritizing personalization, and focusing on health, sustainability, and unique experiences.
Personalized experiences: Consumers are increasingly seeking personalized experiences tailored to their specific preferences and needs. Travel companies will invest in technology and data analysis to understand individual travelers better. They will offer customized itineraries, personalized recommendations, and exclusive offers based on customer preferences and past behavior. The emphasis will be on local and off-the-beaten-path experiences. This also speaks to the notion of hotel loyalty. These programs are designed to incentivize guests to choose a particular hotel brand repeatedly by providing various benefits and perks. Regular guests are acknowledged and rewarded for their loyalty. This can range from small gestures like welcome gifts or handwritten notes to more significant gestures for long-standing and highly engaged members.
Sustainable and eco-friendly practices: With increasing environmental consciousness, consumers will prefer travel companies that demonstrate a commitment to sustainability. Hotels are adopting various eco-friendly practices and initiatives to minimize their environmental impact and promote sustainability. Hotels are implementing energy-efficient technologies such as LED lighting, smart thermostats, and occupancy sensors to reduce energy consumption. They also encourage guests to conserve energy by offering options like towel and linen reuse programs.
Collaboration with sharing economy platforms: Many consumers prefer the convenience and affordability offered by sharing economy platforms such as Airbnb and Uber. Hotels are starting to form partnerships or integrate with these platforms to offer a seamless travel experience, combining transportation, accommodation, and local experiences in one package. This ultimately helps eliminate overhead expenses for the hotel by not having to purchase a hotel car or even have a full food and beverage program on site. Craving homemade pasta with fresh shaved truffles? DoorDash it!
Embracing remote work and digital nomadism: The rise of remote work and digital nomadism opens new possibilities for the hotel industry. Many hotel brands are catering to this growing market by offering long-term stays, co-working spaces, and specialized services tailored to remote workers’ needs. Hotels are now offering guests an environment that combines work, leisure, and community, while providing the necessary infrastructure and services to support remote work requirements.
You are a “travel insider”. How would you describe your “perfect vacation experience”?
My idea of the perfect destination strikes a balance between relaxation and exploration while connecting with loved ones. It’s great to explore and engage in activities, but it’s equally important for me to take time to unwind, rejuvenate, and recharge. Whether I’m traveling with family, friends, or a significant other, spending quality time together and creating lasting memories is also a vital component of a perfect vacation experience.
Ultimately, I seek out authentic experiences. Immersing myself in the local culture and traditions enhances my vacation experience. Interacting with locals, trying local food and wine, attending cultural events, engaging in active endeavors, and visiting off-the-beaten-path locations provides a deeper understanding and appreciation of the destination for me.
I like to plan out my vacations, while allowing for some flexibility in my itinerary and embracing spontaneity. I’ve found that this can lead to unexpected and memorable experiences. Sometimes the best moments occur when I deviate from my plans and let myself be guided by serendipity.
Travel is not always about escaping, but about connecting. Have you made efforts to cultivate a more wellness driven experience? We’d love to hear about it.
Yes. We have been asked by clients to design features and offerings that are designed to create an environment where guests can relax, rejuvenate, and prioritize their well-being. Wellness-driven hotel clients prioritize fitness amenities, such as fully equipped gyms, yoga or Pilates studios, and swimming pools. They may also provide access to personal trainers, group fitness classes, or outdoor activities like hiking, biking, or water sports.
In addition, Spa and Wellness Centers offering a wide range of wellness treatments, including massages, facials, body wraps, and aromatherapy are a must. Saunas, steam rooms, and hydrotherapy pools are also included for relaxation and rejuvenation.
Something becoming more and more normal are Wellness Retreats and Workshops. We are being asked to design unique spaces for hotels to host wellness retreats or group workshops, focusing on specific aspects of health such as stress management, mindfulness, nutrition, relationships, or fitness related activities. These events often include educational sessions, interactive workshops, and activities designed to promote personal growth and well-being.
Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. Based on your experience and success, what are the five most important things one should know in order to create a travel experience that keeps bringing people back for more? Please share a story or an example for each.
Creating a travel experience that keeps people coming back requires a delicate balance of understanding the audience, providing unique experiences, offering exceptional service, paying attention to detail, and constantly evolving to meet changing expectations.
- First up is Hospitality and Service: The quality of a brand’s hospitality and service can greatly influence a guest’s decision to return to that brand. Friendly and welcoming staff, knowledgeable concierge, comfortable accommodations, and efficient transportation offerings all contribute to a positive guest experience. Guests value comfortable and well-appointed rooms with amenities such as comfortable beds, high-quality linens, ample storage space, a functional workspace, and a clean and well-maintained environment. When guests feel well taken care of, they are more likely to choose the same destination or the same hotel brand again.
- Natural Beauty: Stunning lobbies, pristine accommodations, and beautiful interiors that evoke an emotional response have a profound impact on guests. Places that offer awe-inspiring natural beauty often leave a lasting impression, enticing visitors to return to relive those captivating moments and explore more of the region. Hotels with serene spa facilities, tranquil gardens, or picturesque outdoor areas where guests can unwind and enjoy a peaceful atmosphere can provide Instagram-worthy moments of relaxation and tranquility.
- Evolving Experiences: Hotels that continuously evolve and offer new experiences, activities, and events can maintain the interest of guests. Regularly introducing fresh elements and improving existing offerings can keep a destination or hotel brand enticing and encourage repeat visits to experience the latest developments. Furthermore, hotels that provide unique features, such as stunning architecture, historical significance, themed rooms, or immersive experiences, are highly desirable for guests seeking something different and memorable.
- Value for money: This is what we call “Affordable Luxury”. While guests are willing to pay for quality, a desirable hotel should offer value for the price paid. This means providing a fair balance between the level of service, amenities, and facilities offered and the cost of stay. While affordable luxury hotels offer a more budget-friendly experience compared to exclusive luxury properties, they still provide a high level of quality and comfort. The focus is on providing excellent amenities, services, and a luxurious ambiance at a more affordable price point. Overall, affordable luxury hotels aim to strike a balance between cost and quality, allowing guests to enjoy a luxurious stay without breaking the bank.
- Positive reviews and reputation: Positive reviews and a good reputation are essential for a hotel’s desirability. Guests often rely on the experiences shared by others to make their booking decisions. It’s important for hotels to identify and create visually appealing and shareable moments that align with their brand and target audience to encourage guests to share their experiences on Instagram and other social media platforms. In fact, if a hotel brand checks off the four previous sentiments, with the addition of “Instagrammable moments” inside or outside of the hotel, it’s almost guaranteed that the guest will give a positive review and visit another of the branded properties.
Can you share with our readers how you have used your success to bring goodness to the world?
Design touches everybody differently and is truly inspirational when a deeper story beckons us further into the experience. Through my work as an interior designer, I have found a greater purpose in empowering and mentoring others. It’s about educating and inspiring. Through my teaching and coaching endeavors, I seek to empower and inspire others to achieve their own success. I share my knowledge and passion for good design by educating others, writing blog posts and articles about sustainable and inclusive interior design practices. I also conduct workshops and give talks to raise awareness about the importance of design for well-being and sustainability. I seek to Inspire others to make conscious choices in their own design projects and help those following me in the industry start their own businesses and gain the proper tools along the way.
Making a positive impact on the world is a continuous journey for me. I am committed to collaborating with like-minded individuals and adapt my approach as needed to maximize my influence and bring about lasting change.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
Well, this is a tough one. If I could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to many people, it would be a movement that combines positivity, and emotional intelligence. I’d like to spread positivity because it can be contagious. Selfishly, being a source of encouragement, support, and inspiration for others makes me feel good. It’s essential to remember however that maintaining a positive mindset is valuable, but it should not be used to ignore or suppress genuine emotions. Striking a balance between positivity and authenticity is key to overall well-being. That is where the emotional intelligence comes in. Emotional intelligence promotes the idea that emotional skills can be learned and developed throughout life, leading to improved personal and professional outcomes. It emphasizes the importance of emotional awareness and empathy in building healthier relationships, enhancing communication, and fostering a more compassionate and cooperative society.
Fundamentally, emotional intelligence touches on self-awareness: Recognizing and understanding one’s own emotions, strengths, weaknesses, and values, managing and controlling one’s emotions, impulses, and reactions in different situations, harnessing emotions to set and achieve personal and professional goals, building and maintaining healthy relationships, effective communication, teamwork, and conflict resolution all while understanding and considering the emotions, needs, and perspectives of others. I mean, could it get any better than that for a movement? 😉
How can our readers follow you on social media?
Readers can follow me on these platforms:
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!
Thank you, Savio. I enjoyed our conversation. Thank you for having me!