Hotel Lighting Design - More Than Meets the Eye

By Ray Chung Director of Design, The Johnson Studio at Cooper Carry | April 29, 2018

Co-authored by Anita Summers, Associate Principal, The Johnson Studio at Cooper Carry

When lighting is done right, it is the last thing you notice. When done wrong, it is the first thing everybody complains about! Good lighting design supports the concept of the hotel, from the front door, through the public spaces and into the guestrooms. Whether it is soft, dramatic or high-tech, lighting should be used to enhance the architecture and interiors, to create a singular feeling that fits your hotel's identity.

Lighting design is not just expensive decorative fixtures-it is about putting light in the right place, to highlight a beautiful texture, for example, or to call attention to a design feature. Now, new technologies provide greater control over light levels and colors, allowing us to create warmth and comfort while maintaining efficiency and sustainability. This is especially valuable in hotels, where flexible spaces overlap and have to accommodate guests' changing needs across the day. In the end, good lighting design helps create a safe, comfortable environment that invites guests to stay longer simply because it feels good.

Changes in LED Technology

One of the most exciting technologies at the moment is in the field of Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs). Known for their efficiency and longevity, LEDs play a major role in lighting design. Most hotels, in fact, require that they be used over incandescent and fluorescent lighting due to their exceptional value. For the same amount of light (or brightness) an LED lamp can use as little as 1/10th the amount of energy as an incandescent and last 50 times as long before burning out. Even compared to compact fluorescents (CFLs), LEDs use half as much energy and last 3 to 7 times as long. Multiply this savings over every light fixture in a property, and it is clear why they are not just preferred but mandatory.

However, until recently, LED bulbs offered only a cool, bluish light that flickered when dimmed. These drawbacks, of course, posed a challenge when trying to implement a lighting design that seamlessly transitioned from day to night, as we are wired to prefer lighting that mimics the sun. In the mornings, when the sun is high in the sky, we seek bright and cool (less yellow) light; as the sun sets, we naturally want to see a dimmer, warmer light (more yellow and orange). For over 100 years, incandescent bulbs replicated this effect, naturally becoming warmer as they dimmed. But LEDs, even without the flickering problem, do not change color as they dim, resulting in a cold light that can make the world look gray and two-dimensional.

Polaris, the iconic, rotating restaurant on the top of the Hyatt Regency in downtown Atlanta
Merchant and Trade, the bar on the roof of the new Kimpton Hotel in Charlotte
Rattlesnake Bar at Fearing's Restaurant, Dallas
/ SLIDES
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Coming up in April 2019...

Guest Service: A Culture of YES

In a recent global consumers report, 97% of the participants said that customer service is a major factor in their loyalty to a brand, and 76% said they view customer service as the true test of how much a company values them. And since there is no industry more reliant on customer satisfaction than the hotel industry, managers must be unrelenting in their determination to hire, train and empower the very best people, and to create a culture of exceptional customer service within their organization. Of course, this begins with hiring the right people. There are people who are naturally service-oriented; people who are warm, empathetic, enthusiastic, pleasant, thoughtful and optimistic; people who take pride in their ability to solve problems for the hotel guests they are serving. Then, those same employees must be empowered to solve problems using their own judgment, without having to track down a manager to do it. This is how seamless problem solving and conflict resolution are achieved in guest service. This willingness to empower employees is part of creating a Culture of Yes within an organization.  The goal is to create an environment in which everyone is striving to say “Yes”, rather than figuring out ways to say, “No”. It is essential that this attitude be instilled in all frontline, customer-facing, employees. Finally, in order to ensure that the hotel can generate a consistent level of performance across a wide variety of situations, management must also put in place well-defined systems and standards, and then educate their employees about them. Every employee must be aware of and responsible for every standard that applies in their department. The April issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some leading hotels are doing to cultivate and manage guest satisfaction in their operations.