Art makes a difference. Have you ever walked into a hotel room, looked around only to see bare walls, or worse, thrift store paintings? The art hanging in the room makes a difference. It establishes a tone. It creates an atmosphere. It adds an organic element.
To the art appreciator, the experience is conscious and cerebral. To the person who’s ambivalent to art, it is subliminal and visceral. But either way, a well placed piece of art could make the difference between a humdrum experience and one that wows a hotel guest.
People have been decorating the walls of their homes since the cavemen painted images of buffalo on the walls of the caves in Lascaux, or perhaps even before then. Houses without decoration feel bare and sparse. They’re lonely and and seem inhospitable. We crave decoration, we desire ornamentation, and we want this decoration and ornamentation to hold meaning. We surround ourselves with paintings and pictures and little figurines that hold personal meaning when we are in our homes. And even though hotels can’t make that personal connection with every guest, hotels should still be striving for an experience that carries meaning.
Hotels have been putting up art on the walls for decades. But too many opt for the visual art equivalent of musac — something that is non-offensive to all but at the same time completely uninspiring. When hotels do this, when they go for the drab, middle of the road, completely uninteresting, fade-to-the-background type of art, they are missing out on a huge opportunity.
Art Force Install at Radisson Blu, Mall of America (Image Source: Radisson Blu)
“Art should add that little extra spark. Having the wrong art is as bad as having no art,” says Francine Ellman, president of Art Source L.A says. And Kristin Boyd from Lodging Magazine says, “Art can add value, tell a story, differentiate the property from competitors, and change a guest’s experience for better or worse.”
According to Jason Pomeranc, a co-owner of the Thompson LES, “The art is a part of the identity of the hotel and it integrates into the architecture, design, concept and what we ethereally call the vibe, the intellectual soul of the hotel.”
“The customer whose imagination is involved in his visit to the property becomes all the more dedicated as a repeat consumer,” said Glenn Schaeffer, the co-founder, president and chief executive of Fontainebleau Resorts. “You feel part of an experience without maybe knowing exactly why.”
Ansell Hawkins, the general manager of the Chambers Hotel in New York, says even though the guest should be challenged, “there needs to be some kind of intellectual stimulation.”
Art Install at Radisson Blu, Downtown Minneapolis (Image Source: Radisson Blu)
In his article “For New Hotels, Art Isn’t Merely Decoration,” Jonathan Vaternmay with The New York Times says, “Art has become a fundamental, rather than ornamental, element of hotel design.”
Vatermay continues to catalogue a long list of hotels that have embraced modern art to create an unforgettable experience for guests. He says that hotels like the Chambers in Minneapolis, the Grand Bohemian Hotel in Orlando, the Wynn Las Vegas, and the Sagamore in Miami Beach have all displayed extensive collections of art. The Gramercy Park Hotel has such an amazing collection that the Museum of Modern Art once took a tour group there.
Now that we are finally climbing out of the Great Recession of 2008, visits to hotels are on the rise. And as the Millennial generation ages, their participation in the market is rising as well. And opposed to previous generations, Millennials are far more concerned with an aesthetic experience, especially an experience that carries a perceived meaning.
As the market grows and changes, hotels are have an opportunity to cease a larger part of the market, to build their brand, and to make an all around better experience for their guests by making sound and conscious decisions about what art to put into their rooms, or they can choose to provide humdrum experiences that leave their guests uninspired. Art makes a difference, and hotels should make conscious decisions with that in mind.