How to: Design Hotels for Maximum Operational Efficiency

Looking great is critical for every hotel, whether economy or luxury level, branded or independent. However, if a property doesn’t operate efficiently, looking good is meaningless.

This guide offers the perspectives of the experts at Stroud Group on how to furnish hotels for optimal operational efficiency.

Key point: Operational efficiency isn’t exclusively driven by lodging operators. For instance, installing showers in hotels is typically more efficient than putting in full bathtub units with showers. For many hotel operators, this efficiency is driven by the guest preference for showers. In this case, they actually prefer the less expensive and labor-intensive, and more durable option. It also provides additional bathroom space, which is critical, especially in tight urban areas.

Focus on Both the Long- and Short- Term

Investing a significant amount in high-quality hard-surface elements like desks and clothing storage units is a best practice. Consider it an investment in the long-term future of your property. Allocate less for soft goods. No matter how high quality your sheets, chairs, and carpets are, they will wear out. You can change them out, introducing fresh patterns and other features that will keep your property feeling current, preventing it from aging out. In the past, hotel visitors were less judgmental about dated properties than today’s younger bookers. Any sign of age in website images will make them move on to a more modern competitor.

Investing more in hard-surface elements with a plan to replace less costly soft goods more often is attractive to long-term investors who expect to get regular revenue from a property over time.

Purchase Multipurpose Items Whenever Possible

As hotels invest more in shared public spaces, multipurpose areas are increasingly valuable, especially in properties with limited footprints. For instance, a communal table can be a breakfast bar, reading and gathering space, a place to enjoy coffee or a glass of wine, or a dinner table at night.

Movable furniture is especially helpful for these spaces. In the example above, the communal table could be made up of several smaller units that can be reconfigured and reused in the common area and different parts of the hotel. Also, consider surrounding it with appropriate chairs for dining, lounging, and other purposes. The pros at Stroud Group can help you determine how to maximize your investment in hotel furniture.

Think Minimal and High-Tech

As real estate gets increasingly expensive, hoteliers are forced to make guest rooms smaller. Of course, this presents both challenges and opportunities for designers. It can be demoralizing for some designers to create a space with no extraneous furniture. However, if they view a room as minimal and sleek instead, the design challenge is inspiring. View rooms as blank canvases that guests can put their stamp on just by staying in them.

The same is true when it comes to in-room technology. Design the room to make it easy for guests to use their own technology.


Technology is relatively cheap today, but it must be replaced or upgraded often. While most hotels plan for renovations every six or eight years, most technological devices get replaced every six or eight months. At best, most in-room installations become obsolete within a year. It’s impossible to keep up.

That’s why it’s wise to design rooms to support the guests’ devices rather than install too many things that will be out of date quickly. This is a significant first step toward the hotel of the future, which will distinguish customer experience through technology. More and more, hotels document and deliver each guest’s preferences through loyalty programs. When a profile is matched to a room, the temperature, television stations, device inputs, lighting, and other features are adjusted to individual preferences. This ensures a satisfying experience for each guest without them needing to change anything and the hotel being forced to purchase significant disposable tech assets.

Go Local

Guests today — especially millennials and Gen Xers — demand authenticity in their lodging experiences. Hotel companies and designers need to come up with ways to create a sense of location in each property they develop. For instance, as close as the states are, hotels in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, and Connecticut should feel distinctly different. The most satisfying lodging experiences for younger guests reflect their zip codes or even their block through their artwork and other furnishings. For instance, a hotel in New York’s Chelsea neighborhood should feel grittier than one in quaint Greenwich Village, even though they may be less than a mile apart. The growth of soft brands has made authenticity and locality easier.

As branded hotels are being forced to compete with Airbnb in the more in-demand markets, flexibility in design and branding is critical for hotel chains. Many large companies have learned this, offering more latitude as they move into valuable and unique markets. Hotels must be locally relevant and shouldn’t look like every other one. In the past, homogeneity in hotel experiences was a plus. Now it’s not.

Focus on Meaningful Differentiation

Many hotel companies seem to be announcing new brands and extensions every day. They create novel concepts to compete against a new offering, appeal to a different market segment, or expand on a boutique concept.

The issue: Across and within brands, many of these concepts are blurring together, and consumers can’t see a difference, whether in the branding, design, or experience.

In many cases, this is a legacy issue, with newer hotel brands being added to ones that are aging out or not being retired even though they should be.

This is an area where Stroud Group can help. Our experts are aware of everything happening in the hotel industry. We also know all the freshest and latest sources for furnishings and supplies. Our team is ready to provide the advice you need to ensure your different hotel concepts are unique and offer a distinct visitor experience.