The Importance of Design in the Client’s Experience


Taking into account that we will be participating in the upcoming Forum HOTel&Spa 2012, today we would like to start talking about design, the first of a series of four posts, where we will focus on design and the client’s experience.

There is no doubt that the way you enjoy a place depends on the design of the space. In a place like a spa, where having a positive experience is key, design plays an important role in the success of our business. In a previous post, we talked about design from the point of view of functionality. Today we would like to take a closer look at client experience. Their perception, what they feel when inside our spa, and some tips on how to make their experience unforgettable.




1) Simplicity



We all have known of ambitious and beautiful spa projects in unique locations designed by the big names in architecture, like Frank Gehry for example. Places filled with personality, like the locations they are in. They are hotels with a name, wine cellars, or clinics run by cosmetic firms, but when you are talking about smaller projects, opting for simplicity will equally impacting.

A classic example is the famous Mies van der Rohe’s Pavilion of Barcelona, where the famous slogan “less is more” reached it’s zenith, achieving the absolute expression of luxury, based on simplicity of forms and materials. It is known as the place where time does not exist.  What better sensation could we look for in a business like ours?


Things to avoid: A common mistake is to look for the “wow” factor through quantity. A huge variety of design solutions will produce the exact opposite effect of what we are looking for.


2) Authenticity



Although there will be moments where we feel like we are swimming upstream, we must try to not lose our identity. In a world full of alternatives, the only ones that will stand out will be those who are genuine and authentic. The place must be understood, assimilated, and then forgotten about being in it, in order to simply dedicate ourselves to enjoy the activity we are carrying out in this space.

In order to achieve that, we need to think about creating places that will offer unique experiences, and focus on the importance of other aspects such as materials, taking into consideration not only visual effects, but also other parameters that influence the psychological impact that the client will have whilst being in our facilities.

Touch, being one of the most important pillars of a spa’s activity, is not only essential in a massage treatment for example, but also in the texture of the hydrotherapy pool, the bench our client will sit on, or the floor they will walk on. We must think about what exactly it is that we want to transmit in each area, from different temperatures, right through to the degree of rugosity, according to the feelings our clients will experience in each and every area of our facilities. The materials chosen should be useful elements and should complement the sensations the service offered provides.

The same can be said for lighting. The lighting in each area must be perfectly defined. In the same way we play with water temperatures, we must do so with the degree and warmth of lighting. Varying lighting intensity can produce an important impact on the client’s experience and comfort.


Things to avoid: Mediocrity. Being disloyal to our personality. Not achieving the desired unique spa experience for in terms of the main senses; smell, sight and touch must be stimulated throughout the client journey.


3) Coherency



If we observe the above image, we can get a glimpse of an entire interior design project. Pavements, coatings, textiles, and atrezzo objects, all following the same line: a natural look. Whatever the image we want to give to our business, when configuring it’s design, all materials and objects used should be in line with our concept.  In other words, creating an idea with solutions being part of it, where everything seems to match naturally, from the concept, the service offered, to the design.

We must not forget where the spa is located and how the project can take advantage of it in order to define it´s personality, being in harmony with it´s location.


Things to avoid: Even though we might be seduced by different solutions, trying to make a mix of all the ideas that come to mind and incorporating them into our spa, will never be as effective as defining and deciding your own character and from there creating your spa’s image. Lighting, materials, spaces, and concept, all have to be carefully coordinated and synchronised.


4) Smartness



Form follows function, is the sentence that defines the architectonic functionalism of the XXth century. The above coffee maker is an ideal example where every non-essential piece has been eliminated, leaving only the necessary pieces in order to make it function. This example can simulate a building, where on one hand we have the main areas, acting like organs of the project and being spaces in which all the main activities take place, and on the other hand, we have other secondary areas which service the main ones. Nothing more. Nothing less.

If we put ourselves in our clients’ shoes, their experience in our facilities will be simplified if we offer a simple and smart place in which they can move intuitively and comfortably without having to think how to make use of the facilities.


Things to avoid: It is important to avoid complex circulations and guest flows. Areas in which the client is not accompanied by staff must have a completely intuitive functionality. Long and twisted aisles or misleading areas are things that must be avoided.


To conclude, when we create a concept or write a business plan, we must consider each and every aspect right through to it’s design. Keeping in mind at all times the basic perception of our client and what experience he or she lives in our facilities, is of paramount importance. After all, a perfectly written and thought out concept, business plan and service offering will be useless if our client does not feel right in our spa.

By Sonal

Sonal Uberoi creates and delivers smarter spas around the world. Spas and hotel groups hire Sonal to help them design, set up and manage their wellness businesses. Her finance background and worldwide operations experience in the spa, wellness and hospitality sectors make Sonal the go-to expert for business optimisation solutions. Connect with Sonal on LinkedIn

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