The Art of Planning

May 3, 2017

Conference Round-Up: The Art of Planning

HD Expo Day 1.  If you missed the conference kick-off to HD Expo this morning, here are the highlights from the packed session on The Art of Planning.

Moderator, Stacy Shoemaker Rauen, editor in chief and associate publisher, Hospitality Design magazine

Ben Pundole, VP brand experience, EDITION Hotels

Joe Faust, president, Dakota Development

Mari Balestrazzi, VP, Americas Design Services, Hyatt

Jim Tinson, CEO, Hart Howerton


Good design only gets you so far.  It’s increasingly important to consider the space from the perspective of the guest.

The opening session at HD Expo rightfully began with insights from leading hospitality brand managers, asking each about how they begin the design process. The consensus was the need to start with what’s meaningful. Identifying what’s going to make a project memorable, and allowing meaning to guide strategy.  Once you get the strategy right, then carrying that strategy through the design process is what allows good design to translate into a good real estate investment.

The panel kept coming back to the art of planning as the ability to hone in on a property’s audience.  And it’s not about age.  Panelist Jim Tinson summarized his brand’s approach to understanding his audience. “The next generation customer – we’re all focused on this.  This doesn’t have to be a younger demographic; it’s not about demographics so much as psychographics.  It’s about connecting people with similar values and interests.”

Panelist Joe Faust added, “Beyond design, it’s the activation of a space that creates memorable moments for guests.”

According to panelist Ben Pundole, “Today, the guest expects a transformative experience, in addition to the food, beverage and design experience. They want to live like a local when they visit a new city.”

Guests want to be able to continue to live their life seamlessly when they travel, i.e. enough outlets, strong Wi-Fi, so they can get done what they need to and then enjoy the city they’re visiting.

Panelist Mari Balestrazzi summed up the way her team at Hyatt thinks through the guest experience. “People need different things at different times of their life. We aim to make a connection with a guest so we can provide what they need when they need it.”