Is it possible to travel stress-free these days? Considering the uncertainty that still looms large throughout the world, it may be difficult – perhaps impossible – to travel without feeling some degree of anxiety. After all, the sheer nature of traveling can be a stress inducer for many people. The following architects are implementing strategies that are designed to lessen the stress associated with travel.
Kevin Horn, Principal; VP, Aviation Interiors & Concession Strategies
A vital component of the future of travel is rooted in the ability to bridge stress-free experiences with safety. In the aviation industry, an environment typically associated with high stress points, it is essential first to identify the type of traveler at the airport and design solutions that cater to those specific needs. Whether through meditation spaces, business lounges, play places, or food and beverage offerings, implementing a stress-free travel experience begins with providing solutions to your target audience.
Liliana Bernardis, Associate Principal
Biophilic design is known to improve well-being and contribute to creating a stress-free environment. When traveling, stress may be induced by various factors, and one of the most effective ways to combat this is by incorporating natural elements. How you bring natural light to key stress points and how you enhance a sense of transparency is essential. When sightlines are not visible, anxiety becomes heightened. The goal is to provide an experience that is transparent throughout and has clear expectations.
Katie Sprague, Senior Vice President
As people become less wary of the risks associated with travel, the hospitality industry can expect to see an influx of guests in all industry sectors—aviation, hotels, and food and beverage. Part of this re-introduction to travel begins with immersing guests in the culture and local experiences that were missed out on throughout the pandemic. Through design, we can support this idea by pulling in elements inspired by the local culture and environment and then translating that into the multiple touchpoints embedded within a given space.
Robyn Novak, Vice President, National Retail Practice Leader
While we will continue to see a resurgence in travel, we’re also going to see a more discerning guest, embracing the ‘Travel Less, Travel Better’ mantra. With safety and security still top-of-mind, more travelers will look for opportunities to upgrade their experience. Airports should consider offering a more tiered approach, providing a wider array of exclusive amenities, elevated environments, and more convenient detours, to cater to this growing market of premium customers. Not to mention the opportunity for airports to make up for the lost profit in 2020 with these potential new revenue streams.
Frank Cretella, President
Taking the best of hospitality and pairing it with technology we were able to create opportunities for guests to feel comfortable. At the Logan Inn, contactless check-in and QR codes give guests the opportunity to use their personal handheld devices throughout their stay with us. Community is at the core of what we do and partnering with technology we were able to develop The New Hope Application, an application that highlights and promotes the local businesses of the town. When travelers come to Bucks County, they can use this application to book reservations, browse stores, buy tickets, etc. The goal of this application was to aid the local small businesses and increase traffic and revenue.
James Knight, Project Manager
Architects act as a coordinator between the various departments that allow airports to operate—including security, maintenance, and vendors —so that passengers can wait for and board their flights safely and seamlessly. Architecture firms like MHTN, which has helped design major airports, including Salt Lake City International Airport, have had a considerable part in reimagining passengers’ experiences from check-in to take off. When it comes to security, we coordinate directly with the TSA to help implement the latest technologies, focusing on facilitating touch-free experiences. This spans from checking baggage from your phone to checking-in via facial recognition technology instead of handing over your ID to a TSA agent and arranging security lines and baggage bins to allow for more space.
Shay Lam, Managing Executive / Studio Creative Director
Within the industry, brands and operators need to create focused messaging and implement changes that target health and safety concerns. They can also continue to leverage technology to create frictionless experiences and provide extra room for guests so they don’t feel cramped when moving about. Any necessary changes in cleaning measures are already in place.
Paolo Trevisan, Vice President of Design at Pininfarina of America
The biggest shift we’re seeing is in the purpose or meaning of an airport lounge; while still a place of luxury, lounges must now serve as a safe space for travelers moving forward. Airport lounge design must focus on quality and the well-being of travelers. Driven by the philosophy that good design can support good health, our team seeks to incorporate the five senses—sight, smell, touch, taste, and sound—into airport lounges to create moments of healing and tranquility for the mind, body, and spirit. We anticipate that this may also encourage new and different kinds of experiences within the airport lounge –– moving beyond this idea that they are designed for VIP travelers, airport lounges might also evolve to accommodate different activities or retail opportunities that were not available previously.
Dwayne MacEwen, Founder and Creative Director of DMAC Architecture
I’m not sure if stress-free travel exists in the commercial air travel world, there are too many variables and opportunities for surprises from when your alarm goes off to when you are sitting comfortably in your seat, albeit still wearing a mask. To state the obvious, leave early. TSA Precheck helps. But airport food and beverage offerings are in question. Something we all took for granted pre-covid, the many airport F&B outlets either did not survive or remain closed as the entire F&B industry struggles to fill kitchen, waitstaff and server positions. The “local” F&B offerings and experience will become even more important as we “reopen” and welcome people back on board the airplane. I also think airport lounges will continue to become a more important part of the travel experience. Gone are the days of “warehousing” people in a sea of gray armchairs and loud over-lit spaces.
Griz Dwight, Principal and Owner of GrizForm Design Architects
The food hall model is the future of the airport F&B experience. Where before travelers would sit down at a restaurant, they are now looking to grab a high-end meal and find a cozy area to sit with their group, away from the hustle and bustle of airport life. Curating this experience will require strategic, thoughtfully placed seating to accommodate different groups. Implementing a variety of comfortable, well-designed seating options, like the rocking chairs seen in the Charlotte Airport, can really kick this up a notch and start to bring travel into the next era.