Epiphany 2018 Hospitality Trend Report


Can You Predict the Future of Specification?

If you’re paying attention, your eye is on hospitality. Why? Hospitality sits at the top of the design pile. It influences how we see, design and shape healthcare, multi-family, residential and corporate experiences. Looking at what is going on in hospitality design is a good way to see what architects, designers and builders will be specifying next.

While Marriott, Hilton, and Starwood’s sights were focused elsewhere, a newcomer quietly emerged in the hospitality industry, displacing established players and revolutionizing the way consumers think about travel. Airbnb is now regarded as a major disrupter in the industry, taking market share and becoming the new standard to beat. Airbnb’s profound impact on the big brands has forced owners, developers and design professionals to rethink how they concept, design and build properties.

So, how did the greatest hospitality minds, together with top industry experts armed with the latest research, fail to see what was coming? It was because of their mindset—one that only saw the future as a reflection of the past. The thinking was that all hotel rooms had to be on a branded property, made of bricks and mortar. They never conceived that a hotel room could be anything other than something they owned outright. They trained their brains to follow a belief system that made it impossible to come up with the idea.

They literally couldn’t think the thought.


The Millennial Mindset

The Airbnb revolution was founded and fueled by Millennials, whose decision-making and thought processes are guided by a much different mindset. If you understand their belief systems, it becomes clear that Airbnb was more of a foregone conclusion than a “revolution.”

  • The generation with the most sophisticated level of design standards—think Apple watch, not Timex.

  • Driven by authentic experiences—which doesn’t mean they don’t love brands—they do, but they want the real real. No marble lobbies or minibars filled with crap that can be bought at 7-11.

  • Came of age with the internet—information on demand.

  • Grew up making friends/building relationships online—“I follow your Instagram; I know your life. Therefore, we are connected on a personal level.”

  • Generators of the sharing economy—“Because everyone gets a trophy, everyone wins!”


Muji Does Hospitality

Globally regarded as the “anti-brand,” Japanese retailer Muji is launching its first hotel. Located in Shenzhen, China, the hotel sits above one of its own stores, providing guests with a seamless experience where they can purchase products they like after testing them out in their rooms. This is a property created with the Millennial mindset. The focus of the hotel is wellness and effortless chic. The holistic design approach takes into account the level of physical activity required to move around the building, the quality of dining and sleep. Muji products are integrated into the whole experience.

Why are Airbnb and Muji relevant to you? Because they are brands that are defining your industry and profoundly connecting with your customers. It’s vital to the growth of your company to have a good understanding of who and what shapes a specifier’s decision. With projects several years in the making, specifiers are designing the future of hospitality—and your company—right now through their product choices.


Can You Predict the Future for Your Company?

To quote a Millennial: “TRIGGER WARNING!” (You may not like what comes next)

Yes, you can predict the future of your financial growth, of your company and of your industry. In order to do so, however, you must be willing to change your mindset. The past can no longer be your guide to the future. The present, right here and right now, must point you in the right direction.


Change Your Mindset, Change Your Life

Most companies have a commodity mindset—it’s a race to the bottom. Bottom pricing, quality, and thinking gradually transitions companies from branded market competitors to the cheap import knockoff that they despise. They literally can’t think of themselves as having any validity or lifespan beyond the product at hand. The commodity mindset is the biggest barrier to their success.

In order to predict the future, start with what you know.

  • Millennials (your specifiers) are the largest generation. They are just starting to age into positions of power. Their decisions, their tastes, their preferences are what will shape your business for the next three decades.

  • Millennials value brands. They have personal relationships with them.

  • Millennials have a good nose for what is fake or insincere; they crave authenticity.

  • Millennials value wellness. As our world gets more toxic, they crave healthy wellbeing.

  • Millennials demand connection and personalization.

Using the information above, let’s make some predictions about the future:

Companies who understand Millennials—and those who tailor their businesses to meet Millennial needs—will have a future of growth. They will have an advantage over those who don’t for the next thirty years.

Companies who invest in defining, understanding, building, and nurturing their brands will have a better chance of being successful. Brands live beyond products and keep companies relevant to their customers. A brand will protect a company from the cheap competition because a brand is emotional, not tangible. It can’t be duplicated. A brand allows a product line to seamlessly evolve through the years. If you can’t define your brand, you don’t have one.

Companies who communicate authentically and produce products with uniquely differentiated brands will have an advantage over those who don’t. Content, the fuel of inbound marketing, has become increasingly mediocre and forgettable. It’s worth investing in finding your brand voice and creating content that connects.

Companies that leverage the wellness benefits of their products will have a greater chance of being specified over those that do not. Luckily, wellness can mean anything from a healthy interior environment made better because the moisture barrier prevents mold from growing to an acoustic panel that dampens the noise in a restaurant, making the experience more enjoyable. Find the wellness feature of your product and market it.

Your website should be your greatest asset, your hardest working salesperson. Companies—and this is across every industry—will be more successful than their competition if they design their websites to match the way Millennials think and work. Millennials want to be connected to information on demand—they don’t want to have pick up their phone to get their questions answered. Websites should be designed and built to make it easy to download specs, get quotes, and order samples.


Want a deep look into the hospitality trends that will be shaping the industry for years to come? Click the link below to download our 2018 Hospitality Trend Report. As you go through the findings, ask yourself how your company—your products, your brand—fit in, and how can you use that information to deepen your connection with specifiers.


Susan Milne

Want to grow your sales by increasing specifications by architects and designers? Click here to download our guide: THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO GETTING SPECIFIED: HOW ARCHITECTS AND INTERIOR DESIGNERS SPECIFY ARCHITECTURAL PRODUCTS AND BUILDING MATERIALS. If you have a question that hasn’t been answered or would like find out more about how Epiphany can help you get specified, give me a call: 804.377.0106.