02 Aug Why are you staring at the room key?
Servicescape – How a little design strategy can make a big impact.
A few months ago my wife and I spent a weekend in Wrightsville Beach at a marriage retreat. As expected, the weekend was full of inspiring programs, quality time, and delicious shrimp burgers! What was unexpected, though, were my wife’s constant questions. “Why are you staring at the room key?” “Why are you stopping at every door?” And the questions eventually changed to exclamations like “stop taking pictures of the elevator, people are staring!”
What grabbed my attention was the hotel’s use of simple, well placed photography to turn a typically bland experience (hotel décor)
into a compelling “brand” experience.
This was a chain hotel, not a trendy Inn or B&B, so I was surprised that instead of generic flower paintings that add little to the hotel experience, they used interesting photography of Wilmington and Wrightsville beach landmarks. And it wasn’t just a random photo here or there; there was a clear, well-executed strategy in the choice and placement of the images. At every “touch point” there were black and white photos of interesting subjects, (like the Battleship) and interesting composition (like a cool crop of a Hwy 76 sign). The room key cards used photos as well, and even the elevators had
graphic wraps with interesting images and messages.
The cumulative effect was instead of you feeling like you were marching through a sterile environment you felt
pretty cool hanging out in the warm, inviting atmosphere.
In marketing terms, we call this servicescape, which is defined as “totality of the ambience and physical environment in which a service occurs.” In design terms, this means communicating to your customers clearly and intentionally through the use of consistent images and design.
The cost of designing, producing and implementing the photo strategy was negligible in relation to what it costs to run a hotel,
but the impact, on me at least, was significant.
This design strategy got my attention, and it should get yours as well. Every touch point is an opportunity to make an impact on your customers, and the servicescape concept should be applied to more than your physical space. Taking the time to incorporate consistent, compelling design elements in your space, on your web site, and in all your traditional and digital marketing projects will help you reach, connect and inspire your audience.