This article from Bill Lally, President of Mode:Green, is brought to you by AVIXA, the Audiovisual and Integrated Experience Association. Lally spoke at BDNY 2017 on a panel with hospitality designers and operators.
Integrated audiovisual experiences have become the new foundation of smart hospitality design in projects that span the industry, from hotels to restaurants to cruise lines. These experiences are increasingly defining and sustaining the customer’s brand experience. As a result of the critically important role they play, audiovisual experiences have to work flawlessly at the flip of a switch. That’s why AV specialists must be involved from the earliest planning stages of any project — and stay involved — all along the way. Doing so brings a new level of practical creativity to the design process that accelerates the design time, protects the budget and, most importantly, produces brilliant results—aesthetically and operationally.
To be sure, there are still too many projects that begin with 10 or 12 consultants sitting around the table, each representing the many disciplines of building and design — except for AV. The attitude is that “IT can cover AV.” Yes, IT may support the AV system, but the two are not the same. As AV technology continues to evolve in dramatic new ways, it is becoming more immersive and impactful, creating the need for dedicated specialists who understand AV’s capabilities and how to make it work creatively and seamlessly in a hospitality environment.
From a planning standpoint, if we’re coordinating AV with IT effectively, we are reducing network infrastructure costs. We are reducing redundant systems because we can pass information from one to the other. We are also trained to look beyond the nuts and bolts and spec sheets to shape the experience of the hotel guest or the organization utilizing, say, the conference room. We can consider all the ways a room might be used and make it happen.
Let’s consider event spaces — conference rooms, ballrooms, restaurants and, increasingly, lobbies — because they can represent as much as 50% of hotel revenue. Event spaces require a tremendous amount of upfront design. In a dedicated meeting space, the goal should be to build an infrastructure that’s flexible enough for an event staging company to come in and use, without having to put cables all over the floor and make a mess of someone’s event or wedding.
My company just completed a meeting space project that was riddled with challenges throughout the design and construction process. We went through three or four different styles of projectors, lifts and screens because the initial specifications kept changing throughout the construction process. And when specifications change, rising costs and delays are the inevitable result. If we had been involved at the beginning, we could have avoided many of those costs and delays.
AV has to be looked at holistically in the design of a hospitality experience. We need proper planning and proper timelines, so we’re not scrambling at the last minute to retrofit systems into a building. We need to avoid planned obsolescence and create flexibility for future technology evolution. By including AV from the beginning, issues are anticipated and resolved as they happen.
So let audiovisual specialists do what we do best — create the kind of groundbreaking experiences that make a hospitality brand stand out to its customers. Bring us in early, at the same time all the other specialists are brought into a project. AV experiences have become one of the most important parts of hospitality design and AV experts need a place at the planning table, right from the start.
For more information on Bill Lally and Mode:Green, visit www.modegreen.com.
AVIXA, the Audiovisual and Integrated Experience Association, is helping hospitality designers create a more successful future through the integration of compelling audiovisual experiences. AVIXA represents the $178 billion global commercial AV industry and produces InfoComm trade shows around the world. For more information, visit www.avixa.org/hospitalityAV.