Redefining the Lobby

When you meet up with friends, where do you first gather? What if you’re meeting a business partner? A colleague? How about for a business meeting? Now, what if you were on the road. Does that location change? In any of these scenarios, have you ever met up with someone in a hotel lobby? Chances are, the answer is yes, and in most cases, probably while you were on the road. But, did you stay in the lobby, or move elsewhere? Because there’s been a dynamic shift in the market, and in how we do business. The hotel lobby is morphing from the welcome area for hotel guests, to the social hub of interaction for people. And not just hotel guests or traveling businesspeople, but for locals looking for a place to work, dine, hang out and more.

NPR correspondent, Robert Smith, compared the hotel lobby experience to that of shopping in the Warehouse District of New York City. It’s all about interaction, social interaction. Many business owners prefer to visit and shop the Warehouse District where they can interact firsthand with the seller, speak with them directly, check out the merchandise, and engage as needed. The same is being seen with the hotel lobby, and hotels are responding by reinventing, redeveloping and re-concepting the lobby experience to bring people in, and keep them there.

The lobby is no longer viewed as the place to meet up, but the place to be. Hotels are going to great lengths to create an experience for its customers, and are gaining new customers because of it. The center of the action, the lobby allows customers to relax, dine, catch the game, get connected and interact with others, whenever they want. And with all of this, there’s no need to go back to the room. Why would you? This experience isn’t just for the hotel guest, but for anyone that wants a place to interact. It can be the coolest hotspot in town, the local bar where you catch the game, a coffee shop, a restaurant, or a place to sit and talk with friends.

The question that is now often asked, especially as a marketer, is how to we attract people and keep them here? From what we are seeing in business, and as Smith pointed out, people are coming to the lobby to network. If you give them a place to interact, and they will likely try it out. This sounds easier than it is, as the options and experiences are endless, but if hotels leverage what they know (service and a welcoming environment) and leverage their target audience as a base, they should be able to keep attracting people.

Think about it the next time you walk into your hotel or pass by a hotel lobby. The dynamics continue to change, take notice as to how it's being used.