Over the last six to ten years, the hospitality industry has undergone a high-tech transformation as restaurant owners and hoteliers are quickly innovating to keep up with their competitors. Consequently, incorporating advanced technology into the hotel experience has led to a profound impact on guest expectations and requirements for their stay. Advancements in lighting science, in particular, have played a critical role in this evolution, as the introduction and continued improvement of LED technology enhance both functionality and ambiance in hospitality settings. Freed from the limitations imposed by the heat and size of conventional fluorescent bulbs, LEDs offer the opportunity to reimagine electronic illumination throughout public and private hotel spaces.
As innovation continues to change the modern hospitality industry, guests are looking to interact and unwind in fresh ways, using the same traditional hotel spaces for a variety of new and different activities. Given the expanded range of applications for electronic illumination—from tone and color to utility—lighting design has been able to keep up with those changing needs and preferences, and the key to this evolution of lighting science is integration. Electronically generated illumination is a wave in the spectrum of energy, which can be controlled, directed, and managed as a component in a broad-based integrated system of energy, and deployed across a hotel. Electronically managed information, communication, and entertainment will include the quality, color, intensity, and mood of illumination as a synchronous component of a smart controlled environment.
Whether extending a warm welcome to arriving travelers, accommodating the time of day, or setting the mood for a special event, fully integrated LED systems can create a memorable experience that leaves a lasting impression on guests long after they check-out and encourage them to return. Hoteliers can program LED lighting systems in guestrooms to serve a variety of different functions, for example: providing a calming, ambient setting upon entry; regulating and managing a guest’s circadian rhythm; and alleviating symptoms of jet lag for long-distance travelers arriving on an extended flight. These integrated lighting systems can even be set in synchronous harmony with alarm music to eliminate the need for anxiety-inducing wake-up calls for early morning meetings or flights. By influencing a guest’s mood this way, improved lighting technology offers hoteliers the opportunity to carefully tailor the guest experience to a visitor’s specific wants and needs, allowing guests to enjoy all the same comforts of home and culminating in a better overall stay.
As architectural trends in the industry lean towards increasingly smaller hotel rooms with more emphasis on building impressive, dynamic lobbies and common areas, LED lighting design in those public spaces has become critical to optimizing the guest experience as well. By utilizing expertly designed integrated LED systems, lobbies, restaurants, and bars can be transformed into locations where travelers can live, work, and play. Varying the lighting for those different utilities can determine the mood and serve to invite lingering or excite exodus. Therefore, the challenge for the guest experience is how lighting design can create moods that are appropriate for the activity in a way that was not possible without advancements in controlled LED technology.
Properly specified LEDs are capable of providing a distinction between different sections of public spaces to create zones that cater to any kind of guest requirement, further underscoring the notion of a personalized hotel experience that recalls the comforts of home. For instance, dimmable, glare-free LED illumination allows a comfortable and spacious area in the lobby for business travelers to complete remote work, while customized, expansive fixtures with warm LED color temperatures can provide social media moments for vacationers to document and share their first impressions and experiences.
LED has changed and will continue to change the hospitality industry by empowering hoteliers and designers to image and create a design in the context of new opportunities in scale and with new form factors that contribute to the overall guest experience.
About the Author
Robert Sonneman has been at the forefront of lighting design for five decades and is the founder of SONNEMAN—A Way of Light, a contemporary lighting design company.