Style over substance? Time to speak to the users.

This was a cathartic write up as much as anything, and was to be a complaint letter. However, I was in a session at Corenet’s Summit in Berlin which made me decide to post it rather than just leave it in my draft box.

I would like to share my experience recently during a 2 week ‘luxury’ break that my wife and I took in the wonderful Turkish resort of Kalkan.
We were excited to be staying at a new hotel that only opened in May. The website made the rooms and facilities look amazing, stylish and modern. I was hoping that by the time we arrived at the end if August any teething problems would have been ironed out. Sadly, it was not the case, and the hotel is not wearing well at all. Most of it is down to style over substance.

1. Whitewashed wood can look great – but for a hotel room that will get more than it’s fair share of wear and tear, it is totally impractical putting it everywhere, especially the horizontal services. It marks far too easily, and having to have staff go in and repaint the rooms after 3 months is just unacceptable.

2. That stylish see through shower in the middle of the room looks stunning in romantic honeymoon brochures. However, if you charge high prices, in addition to the few honeymooners, you are more likely to get a slightly older clientele who have the resources to pay. These are mostly people who have said goodbye to their lithe figures and probably don’t really wish to shower in full view of even their partners! So, they have added ugly blinds in recognition of this – but why not put a wall up in the first place?

3. Those pebbles that have been used to surround the shower floor look really great in the website photographs. However, they are in the area where all the water drains which includes all the day’s sun tan lotion washing off of our not so svelte bodies. It means they are never really clean and just end up looking mucky!

4. Hotel lighting is usually extremely poor and it is often difficult to see anything you are doing. So, what a joy and delight it was to see a room full of lights giving ample illumination. However, why oh why have you given the all or nothing option? To have the loo light on, all the lights have to be switched on. Not good for the still sleeping partner if you need to make a little trip in the night.

5. Employing great people is really important. However, when they are new to the hospitality industry, you really need to make sure that you support them and train them. You really shouldn’t keep blaming them for the lack of experience.

These are just a few of the issues that arose all because of style winning over substance. How often is this replicated in workplace design?

I love great design. I love beautiful things. I love staying in stylish places. However, the first reference point in any design, including workplace, is the user and their needs and requirements.

Sometimes they know best!

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About Mark Catchlove

All views are my own
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