Design is becoming the differentiator in the highly competitive hotel market. That and giant fat-assed breakfast buffets. Really. I have never seen so many different ways of presenting carbohydrates in one place at one time. Make your own waffles. Morning Glory muffins. Chocolate chip bagels. Oatmeal cookies. Rolled Oats. Fruit Loops knock-off cereal. Oh, and free wifi.
Even on approach, hotels signal their competitive positioning. Family-oriented, business practical, aspirational alternative, or ostentatiously ambitious. The most noticeable are the alternative brands. Modernist building design. Minimalist landscaping. Sans serif font on the signage and letterhead. Sectional furniture in the lobby. Men's style magazines on the coffee table. A business centre with a Mac.
If you're at all uncertain, just check the name etched in the glass over the polished aluminum handles. More often than not, it's a short given name, or a vague scientific allusion. ARc. Oxygen. Alt. George. Helix.
Despite all this effort, there is one common element fouling each and every lobby: the clunky brass luggage cart. No matter the target market, no matter the guest demo, a four post brass luggage cart can be found lurking around the corner, swivelling wheels never at the ready, dirty rubber bumpers marking every corner.
Really? In a world where Knoll, Herman Miller, Eames and Saarinen can each make a half decent office chair, why are we stuck with the same uninspired luggage cart?
Given a moment of introspection and another of inspiration, what could a hotel baggage cart offer?
- graphic map of the facility to help with navigation
- a handy place to put my room key/card while fumbling with the cart
- a design agile enough to get through the door of the room
- footprint versatile enough to accomodate big family suitcases as well as carry-ons
- something that can get past a laundry cart in the hallway
Oh, and maybe a design aesthetic consistent with every other overly thought out element in the building?
I really wish people would just stop ordering right from the industrial supply catalogue.