Frankfurt – For the past five years, Patricia Holler has been heading the interior design department that oversees the work in Marriot's properties throughout Europe. Just think of the range: that includes anything from the business-friendly Courtyard and Millennial brand Moxy to the personality-driven Autograph Collection and W properties. As the senior interior design director for the hospitality giant, she has a treasure trove of consumer feedback to keep ahead of trends – and give travellers at every level the unique experiences they didn’t even know they wanted.
Patricia is also one of the jury members of the Spatial - Hospitality panel in the upcoming edition of the Frame Awards. The late submission deadline is October 15, so here at the Frame offices we’re getting ready to tackle the project shortlist. That’s why we decided to pick her brain: Is there anything we should be looking out for in the bar, restaurant, hotel, entertainment venue and health club entries?
In the past, brand consistency was a great pull for hotel guests, but today it’s all about standing out on a global level. How do you address that across the Marriott board?
PATRICIA HOLLER: We have 30 brands in the portfolio, with different positioning. Our guests are expecting a lot of individuality and every hotel is, in a way and to varying degrees, bespoke.
To give an example: There are business travellers that, wherever they spend the night, it gives them comfort to find a repetitive design, they know what the room will look like, and where they can find amenitites. This helps them unwind. We have brands that meet these expectations.
There are other business travellers with completely different personalities and needs. Guests, who would, for instance, like to discover the neighborhoods – to get as much as possible from the locality and dive into local, off-script experiences. For them we have other, much more relevant brands, where the property turns into a fully custom lifestyle experience. This way, we can go beyond expectations and surprise them with the unexpected.
Then we have our collection brands – which allow the individual hotels to develop their own brand, such as the Autograph collection. All these hotels have in common that they are completely unique, with an own story and identity and with the highest level of customisation.
It’s absolutely critical that you use designers that help you bring a story to life
Let’s talk about that second type of traveller. How important is it for hotels to invest in interior design, compared to 10 years ago?
Very: It is absolutely critical for the success of the hotel that you use good designers that help you bring a story to life, that are able to identify and develop the design language you need to express the story you want to tell. Travellers are increasingly picking hotels based on the décor. In today’s world, they make very conscious decisions on the style they are going to find in the hotels – it has to do with how they identify with the place. And we shouldn’t forget the tremendous variety of hotels we have now. 20 years ago, travelling and staying in a hotel was still something that not everybody could afford. Today, everybody travels and can stay in a hotel – you have availabilities and options in every budget tier, and every customer has the opportunity to make a very conscious choice.