The hospitality industry, being one of the fastest-growing industries in the world has been following an organic trajectory and accounts for almost 10 percent of the world’s GDP and contributes around 8-9% of the total employment in India. This lockdown situation in the country due to the public health crisis will be having a great impact on the hospitality industry. Although, one can neither envisage what the post-pandemic situation would look like nor has the government come up with any specific guideline for the same, but the lockdown would definitely come to an end someday or the other.
The hospitality industry, which is customarily considered to be pretty decent in terms of hygiene will now be required to practice clinical hygiene and the same will be true for other public buildings. In fact, even with no regulation in the norms by the government yet, numerous brands have already taken the aspect into account and have incorporated certain SOPs, maintaining considerable amounts of hygiene levels and social distancing. These SOPs and evident transformations concerning health and hygiene will also cause amendments in design. The alternation will be manifested from habitual changes where sterilization may be subsumed as a part of the design itself and we may need to introduce pre-sanitization areas in hotels. Also, the current air conditioning systems, return air quality, indoor air quality and other technical aspects would need major attention ensuring that apt standards are maintained. Social distancing, face masks and clinical gloves will be a part and parcel of our lives in the upcoming months.
We as designers are keenly waiting for new design guidelines in order to incorporate them in hotel designs ensuring their rapid reopening which is a challenge in the current scenario. Also, assimilating the new alters intelligently in the existing design of all the typology of hotels, including guest houses, budget hotels and luxury hotels without jeopardizing the aesthetics is again crucial and of utmost importance. We as designers expect the authorities to introduce a universal touchstone where properties can be categorized into Covid-19 compliant and otherwise for the comfort, safety and content of the guests.
Social distancing has become an exigency today. The need of the hour for the designers is to look into the interior spaces with accommodational functionality or limited areas, where practising social distancing can be problematic.. These spaces may include banquets, F&B outlets, meeting rooms, diners where buffets are served, bar areas and even the public areas with similar regime out of hospitality. Our notion is to mitigate the challenge while flattening the curve as we cannot directly help terminate COVID-19 pandemic.
I, personally feel that avoiding human interaction/ intervention in the hospitality sector is impossible as the experience of a hotel without hosts can never be the same. Although, we can confer onto technology like e-menus, including virtual voice assistance etc. in order to fight this global challenge to some extent which might as well come at a huge cost.
Also, India, while acquiring great scientific knowledge of planetary composition and body composition; being a birthplace for mystic Ayurveda and Yoga, imposes itself as a wellness retreat for the world. Therefore, the affirmative is that we will be out of this situation really soon. In fact, this pandemic is an ideal situation when we can incorporate the wellness attribute in our hotels in the form of wellness and recreational centres to market a vertical revenue.
It is high time when the design fraternity should come together and find solutions to the anticipated problems which may occur for built environments post lockdown in order to curb this global menace and help the industry to retain at a better pace.