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How to design and build a hotel showroom in 9 days

If you’re going to build or renovate hundreds of hotel rooms, it makes a ton of sense to start with a single sample. That’s undeniably the most efficient way to find out if the concept works in action like it does on paper. 

Imagine this: you have finally confirmed a meeting with the largest Nordic hotel operator, but you have also just moved into a new office space without a proper showroom.

That was the situation in which we found ourselves in 2018—we didn’t have our own showroom, but we had a juicy deal up for grabs. In the hospitality industry mock-up showrooms work as invaluable proof of concepts, meaning if you’re trying to close the deal, you better have the room.

So it was time for us to start building.

The design sprint – In the beginning there was only empty space and concrete floors

We had the guest room management system that we wanted to show, but we also needed to come up with a visual experience around it. So the first priority was to find an interior designer who could help us to bring our vision into reality. Luckily we found Lotta Sydänmaa from Verdeco who was up for the challenge. Verdeco specializes in biophilic design, which incorporates direct and indirect elements of the natural world into the modern built environment.

Lotta remembers the kick-off meeting of the project:“I came to visit Mount Kelvin without any clue about the project or the deadline. No sooner said than done, we were taping the floor for wall placings and furniture.” 

We wanted a Scandinavian look for the showroom and the requirements included several different light sources, controllable curtains, and the possibility to also use the showroom as a conference room.

“In the first 3D models we used a lot of natural materials, especially wood. In the building phase we ended up adding some velvet and gold to bring a feeling of luxury in parallel with the ecological approach,” Lotta explains.

See where we ended up getting the stuff here

3D model of the Mount Kelvin showroom

Early 3D model of the showroom

The build sprint – time to wrap up our sleeves

With our tight deadline, there was no chance of getting any contractor other than our very own taskforce to get the job done. Mount Kelvin divided into two teams, one focused on finding the furniture and accessories, and the other getting the walls up and construction done. 

All Mount Kelvin employees chipped in—even the dev guys jumped into overalls. It was a week full of sawing, hammering, assembling, and painting. At the same time the furniture and accessories were brought in and tested in the neighboring room. After nine days of sweat, caffeine, and some very interesting music choices, the time ran out. 

Against all odds the room was finished in time—six hours before the arrival of the hotelier. The Mount Kelvin guest room management system was working like magic.

Phases of building Mount Kelvin showroom 1      Phases of building Mount Kelvin showroom 2
Phases of building

Transforming into a virtual showroom

With a global business, it’s unfortunately impossible to invite every prospective partner or client to visit an on-location showroom. And with a global pandemic, that has become even more difficult. Luckily we had cracked that problem a long time ago.

In 2019, we started running remote visits to our showroom. These visits aim to provide as realistic Mount Kelvin hotel experience as possible. We let the guests take control of the lights, curtains, and temperature of the showroom while staying in the comfort of their own workstations. If you would like to get a taste of this experience, book a time here

Takeaways from the 9-day showroom sprint

The biggest learning is that if we can build our showroom in nine days, there shouldn’t be an excuse for any hotel project not to get theirs done, too. Showrooms can prevent numerous different mistakes in the building phase and there’s no better way of selling an idea to different stakeholders than showing it in real life. 

Most companies in the hospitality industry are aiming for a guest experience that people remember. In today’s competitive landscape, that can only be achieved by getting all the details right. For example, you can perfect the locations of power sockets and light switches and the whole interior design concept by trying out different setups in practice. 

Most projects can also save a lot of time and money by allowing their various partners and suppliers to bring their tech and solutions to the showroom and see how the unique ecosystem works together. It’s a lot cheaper to optimize a single room compared to a hundred rooms. 

So – did we close the deal?

When the (not-so) long-awaited visitor arrived for the meeting on a cloudy Monday morning, everything went like clockwork. We got the reaction we were looking for! The hotel operator  was  so impressed that they even mentioned we should maybe start working with their interior designs too. Not bad for a nine-day design and build sprint. 

We’re happy to say that in 2020, two of this anonymous hotel chain’s hotels are running Mount Kelvin’s guest room management system in all of their hotel rooms.

mountkelvin_showroom

The end result, day scene

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