Arts & Hospitality: a Positive Association - Part 1

EHL Students - Bachelor | 15 Aug, 2016

The encounter of arts and hospitality is not fortuitous. Albeit through different channels and experiences, both human activities trigger sensations and appeal to emotions; as such, their interaction may prove powerful.

The imprint of arts in hospitality facilities can be found in a wide array of practices, at the very least through design which is itself considered as arts. Even those hotels wishing not to impose art pieces on guests will endeavor to integrate aesthetics in the overall experience through a holistic approach by architects, interior designers, and managers.

A first observation is that arts/cultural events generate more customers for nearby hotels: for example, Art Basel, an uncontestable driving force of the art market, attracted more than 70,000 visitors in only one week-end last year. Beyond such obvious influence, recurrent art fairs may have other spillover effects on local hospitality places, once these fit the event in their own business profile.  

At the other end of the spectrum, we find hotels which are nothing but a true art happening from A to Z, like the Parisian Le Royal Monceau Raffles. The place, conceived by famous designer Philippe Starck, has a soul. From the concierges, gallery and bookshop dedicated to arts within the hotel, to room arrangements and restaurant suggestions, the great hospitality experience also becomes an artwork.

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It is arguable whether using the distinctive drive offered by arts to attract more customers to a hospitality business is appropriate or not, effective or not.  Some maintain that art is not necessary and not relevant in hospitality places. This view can be illustrated by certain hotel brands, such as Hilton Garden Inn, that think that their guests are looking for consistency while travelling worldwide: they thus apply very restrictive guidelines when adding arts to the hotel’s design.

It is also argued that too many art installations devalue arts themselves. Though this may apply to some contemporary arts, the value of classic arts used in hotels does certainly not decline. Some people consistently prefer refined design, and will choose hotels in this style, with precise lines, like the Radisson Blu Le Metropolitan in Paris. Lastly, hotels may be discouraged by the technical difficulties involved in the displaying of art pieces, such as available space or proper lighting, or the security problems posed.

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A fact however remains: a growing number of hotels do actually invest in art-related offers, when they can afford it. Today, most hospitality professionals recognize that arts enhance hotel guest experience. Arts being for sure emotional drivers, they will inevitably generate more visits to the hotel if chosen with sense, whether in accordance with the brand’s image or beautifully included in the facilities.

Adding arts becomes part of a hotel's overall branding process, as a means of conveying implicit messages or values, and of differentiation from competitors. Indeed, arts and design are often blending with the brand itself. “Hotel Bulgari is indeed an example of total design, in which every single element has been expressly studied and implemented: (…) it makes this environment precise and coherent, and (design) perfectly integrates the form and substance of the service provided”, states Antonio Citterio, designer and architect.

Of course, arts do not interest people at the same level and not every cultural product will drive every type of visitors to a destination or a hotel. Finding an overall harmony between museums, galleries, hotels, festivals and events, will help attract guests who at first might not have a great interest in arts and culture.

Author: Justine Barsalou - EHL Bachelor Student
Photo credit: mentioned hotels and designers.

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