Bringing Hospitality Experience To Inhospitable Environments
Lionel Ohayon, founder and CEO of ICRAVE, discusses how brands can create brand experiences that anticipate a customer’s need at every touchpoint
A brand experience is the central connection that brands have with their customers—and it begins the moment a consumer walks into a space, visits a website, or engages on social media. It’s increasingly difficult to reach customers effectively and solve for their needs, and sectors like airports and hospitals that have traditionally been unwelcoming environments are seeking to reinvent themselves in the face of this challenge.
By bringing a hospitality-centric strategy to verticals outside of hospitality, brands can create brand experiences that anticipate a customer’s need at every touchpoint. Below are a few takeaways for brands to bring hospitality thinking to a wide range of verticals:
The best connections are visceral
For a brand experience, the best connections are visceral. They are made up of moments that we remember. This is both good and bad. We know that people are more inclined to react to a bad experience than a good one – layovers draw irate reactions, while a seamless flight is taken as a matter of course. With that in mind, it is critical to take control of your brand experience and create environments that invite users into a world that – across all touch points – is ‘hospitable.’ Bringing hospitality thinking into inhospitable environments is the essence of where we are today in defining a new profession, one that is founded in interior design and architecture, but heavily reliant on digital evolution and human behavior.
Create places, not spaces
If we create places, we must stop thinking about spaces. The intersection of our physical and digital worlds is opening doors to the creation of new operation models. Placemaking infers the introduction of hospitality to spaces that have traditionally not been thought of that way. A key example here is the healthcare industry — the introduction of hospitality into hospitals would seem obvious. However, for the past several decades the business of hospitals in America has been far more focused on achieving efficiency and solving the mechanics of processing patients through a system. While these are vital operational considerations, they completely ignore the actual patient experience. At Memorial Sloan Kettering’s new Josie Robertson facility on York Street, the challenge we were presented with was to redefine the way people experience cancer care. With MSK, we uncovered that there is a fundamental problem in the experience of cancer care. To solve it, we thought through the existing model and patient journey, asking where that journey starts and ends, and then looked at how we can implement both physical and digital tools to create an entirely new model. This model puts not only the patients, but also the caregivers and hospital team of staff in the spotlight. Hospitality in this case was catalogued by creating three lenses against which all decisions would be tailored: 1. We Care 2. We Understand 3. We Inspire.
Approaching unwelcoming environments with a hospitality lens naturally brings existing problems with consumer experience and operations to the forefront. If we want to make an airport hospitable, it should have the amenities that make people comfortable: good food, accessible chargers, comfortable seating. If those amenities aren’t seamless to access, that’s a consumer experience problem – and we shouldn’t be afraid to entirely reinvent the model. We are moving away from making airport experiences tolerable by adding useful amenities to a place where we are rethinking the entire idea of what an airport experience can be. Starting with the question- is the airport a destination.
Using information to deliver a better experience
Today, with the use of technology as a design tool, we can reshape the way we design spaces at MSK. RTLS technology is implemented to track the location of patients. This allows the staff to anticipate the arrival of patients, knowing them by name and eliminating the check in process. The use of information also allows us to cut out tests that can be performed in advance of arrival and lets sues better manage the anxiety of the caregivers who are desperate to know the status of their patients. Information technology allows the staff to anticipate needs inside the facility and effortlessly talk to each other across sectors and different facilities. The modern hospital becomes a much more efficient facility this is geared towards individual moments that are focused on the patient experience as opposed to a patient fitting into a system that tries to solve for everyone.
Lionel Ohayon is the founder and CEO of ICRAVE, an innovation and design studio in New York City that reimagines built and digital environments for award-winning hospitality, airport, healthcare and workplace projects across the globe. Inspired by his favorite mantra “You’ll never get an A, if you’re afraid of getting an F,” Ohayon has led ICRAVE to become an internationally-renowned studio, with extensive experience in creating experiential, meaningful environments.