Andrew Ramiro Tirado's reclaimed redwood sculpture at The Maven Hotel in Denver — Photo by Andrew Bordwin
Clayton Members Club and Hotel — Photo by Artist: Christi Palitto - Photographer: Conor King
DoubleTree by Hilton Austin — Photo by Artist: Christa Palazzolo - Photographer: Paul Brokering

The hospitality industry has faced countless obstacles in recent years. After navigating the catastrophic impacts of COVID-19, both customer demand and hospitality revenues are finally projected to reach pre-pandemic levels. This trend toward new growth, coupled with changing customer expectations, presents new opportunities to transform the hotel experience.

Enter the need for creative placemaking, a people-centered process that infuses art and culture into the planning, design and management of public places.

The Impact of Creative Placemaking on Hotels

Hotels have the challenging task of offering a range of spaces that fulfill various needs, from relaxing lounges and restful spas to creative coworking areas and event-ready rooftops. Creating cohesion among these disparate areas takes time and intention. But art and culture are here to help. By embedding art and culture into every aspect of the hotel, creative placemaking can help hospitality leaders ensure tasteful continuity from the lobby to the rooftop, meanwhile distinguishing the property, elevating its amenities and adding authentic local flair to the guest experience - resulting in tremendous economic and social benefits.

Here are three ways creative placemaking can help your hotel thrive in 2023 and beyond.

Start Early

When it comes to incorporating art into your hotel, the earlier the better. According to our State of the Art Report, 90% of participants believe art is more effective when all stakeholders, decision makers and experts work together. Further, 88% agree or strongly agree that thinking about art early improves the outcome of the project.

Integrating art in the initial project planning stages helps streamline communication and workload across project teams, ensuring synergies amongst art, architecture, design, lighting, and other key elements. It also allows you to better maximize budget efficiencies, placement, artist selection and presentation. Ideally, hotels should begin art planning at about 60% of schematic design completion, when a rough layout of basic construction features can allow stakeholders to identify and prioritize space for bold, iconic artwork that would be impossible anywhere else. Such art moments are what create buzz, generate earned media and get people through your door. And once they’re inside, the integrated art, architecture and design experience will draw them in further, prompt them to stay longer, and keep them coming back.

Ultimately, starting the creative placemaking process early in a project’s life cycle not only saves you time and money, but helps ensure a cohesive experience and a destination where people want to be.

Develop Creative Collaborations

The hotel industry is rife with cookie-cutter spaces. Many properties don’t prioritize connection, community or the unique vibe of the local neighborhood in ways that fulfill guest expectations. In a crowded marketplace, hotels that want to stand out should look to art and culture to differentiate themselves in authentic and enduring ways.

Partnering with artists and local cultural organizations can bring valuable perspectives, creative solutions, and nods to the local history and character of the surrounding region. The result is a unique identity that generates goodwill and good press, attracting both out of town visitors and local residents.

For example, the Clayton Members Club and Hotel features an expansive collection of more than 230 artworks made primarily by local creatives and emerging and underrepresented artists to elevate the property’s focus on equity, opportunity, and inclusion. Through a collaboration with the RedLine Contemporary Art Center, several artists can display and sell their work at the hotel and keep 100% of the profits, and some were invited to join the social club by contributing to artistic programming and events in lieu of membership fees. In addition, a 1% surcharge for every purchase in the building allocates revenue to local arts and cultural organizations.

Such initiatives result from prioritizing creative partnerships outside your typical project team, thereby adding value to your hotel while distinguishing it from the competition.

Remember Your Guests

One exceptional aspect of creative placemaking is that it prioritizes the convergence of diverse partners, from developers, architects, and engineers to designers, artists, community leaders, and others. Such collaboration gets stakeholders out of their individual silos and ensures overall accountability, creating a final product that is desirable for a range of audiences and is truly built for public benefit.

Hotels that design with people in mind can leverage art and culture to influence human behavior and, in turn, enhance the guest experience. Start by asking questions about how an individual will interact with your space. Where will they enter? What will be their natural course of action based on building design? Who will they encounter? What emotions will they feel?

In combination with architecture, design, and operations, artwork can be used to answer such questions and transform the way your audience experiences your space. For example, a large-scale mural outside the hotel not only sparks conversation amongst visitors and locals, but can be seen from far away and help people navigate to your property. An exterior sculpture can become a landmark moment and serve as a popular meet-up spot, while artfully designed walkways can influence the flow of pedestrian traffic and prompt guests to notice your hotel’s retail shop, restaurant, or iconic lobby installation. After all, according to architect Andy Rockmore, Art and people have a way of creating space and energy around themselves. Art, when used successfully, creates its own environment.

Make Your Hotel a Destination

Altogether, creative placemaking can help transform your hotel from an ordinary space to a one-of-a-kind destination. In fact, 94% of respondents to the State of the Art survey said their projects would be less successful without art.

More than just a picture on a wall, art can impact the social and financial value of a place, promoting increased foot traffic and revenue, higher rates, longer bookings and heightened brand recognition - not to mention stronger community engagement and civic pride.

As the hospitality industry embarks on a phase of rapid growth and opportunity, hotels should look to art and culture to set themselves apart and better fulfill the desires of both guests and locals. Art and cultural integration that is planned early, collaboratively, and with intention can help transform a common hotel experience from underwhelming to unforgettable.