AI: A designer’s perspective

The use of AI in hospitality reaches beyond operations and guest experience, as it can help designers in their work. Hotel Business spoke with Monika Nessbach, principal/chief creative officer, Charlotte-based DESIGNBAR, to get her thoughts on the subject.
—Gregg Wallis

What are your thoughts on AI in hospitality? 
From an interior design perspective, AI in hospitality enriches the design process and guest experience by allowing us to create more personalized, responsive environments. Think of AI as an essential tool in our design kit that helps us predict and cater to the specific tastes and preferences of guests who appreciate innovation and personalization.

AI can analyze data on guest preferences to inform the design of rooms and spaces that dynamically adapt to individual needs. This could mean smart rooms that adjust lighting and temperature or even the artwork on the walls based on the guest’s mood or preferences detected through their digital footprint.

Moreover, AI-driven data analytics can guide us in optimizing the layout and functionality of spaces. We can design lobbies that double as social hubs for digital nomads, incorporating elements like interactive, digital art installations that not only beautify the space but also engage directly with guests through AI, creating immersive, customizable experiences, which in turn create an emotional connection to the individual brand.

In terms of sustainability—a key concern for the younger generations—AI helps us design smarter, more energy-efficient spaces. By integrating AI with building management systems, we can design hotels that not only minimize their carbon footprint but also adapt in real-time to energy-use patterns, thus contributing to a healthier planet and aligning with the values of your future-forward guests.

Lastly, embracing AI in design doesn’t just enhance functionality and aesthetics; it also signifies a hotel’s commitment to innovation, attracting guests who are eager for a taste of what is to come. This fusion of technology and design not only sets a new standard in hospitality but also ensures that each guest’s stay is uniquely memorable.

Some have said that AI is not a good fit for hospitality because it is a “people” business. Others have said that AI will help hoteliers provide their guests with a more personalized experience. What do you think? Can there be a balance between the two? 
AI is sparking quite a debate in the industry as the hospitality sector is traditionally defined by human touch and personal interactions. One of the reasons for the debate is fear— the fear of being replaced. But a human touch cannot be replaced. As a proponent of innovative interior design in hospitality spaces, I see AI as a complement rather than a replacement for human interaction.

From an interior design perspective, AI can also be used to create environments that adapt to the needs of different guests, enhancing both functionality and aesthetic appeal. Yet, the layout and design elements are crafted to foster warm, inviting spaces that encourage human interaction and connection.

All that is to say that the real magic happens when AI and human service are blended in a way that each complements the other, enhancing the strengths of both. AI’s efficiency and personalization, paired with the irreplaceable human touch, can redefine hospitality, making each guest’s stay not only more personalized but also genuinely a memory they won’t forget.

In what ways are you using AI for your clients? Are they receptive to it?
At DESIGNBAR, we are harnessing AI not just as a tool, but as a co-creator in our design process, ensuring that we deliver fresh and unique experiences tailored to each client’s specific needs. One way we’re integrating AI is through platforms like Midjourney, which aid in generating initial design concepts and visual inspirations. This helps us explore a broader spectrum of creative possibilities that might not be immediately apparent through traditional brainstorming methods.

Our use of AI also extends to more analytical tasks, such as optimizing space utilization and enhancing environmental sustainability. By analyzing data on how spaces are used, AI helps us design more efficient, functional and environmentally friendly interiors. This aspect is particularly appreciated by our clients who are committed to sustainability, are aiming at achieving LEED certification and are looking for innovative ways to reduce their ecological footprint.

In general, our clients have been very receptive to our use of AI, especially when they see how it enhances the design process and contributes to creating a space that truly resonates with their brand and their guests. The younger demographics are particularly enthusiastic about the integration of technology into their environments, which aligns with their expectations for innovation and sustainability.

Hence, through integrating AI into our workflow at DESIGNBAR, we are not only enhancing our creative capabilities but also improving our operational efficiencies, making our designs not only more innovative and personalized but also more aligned with the evolving needs of our clients.

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