Patrick Speck, The Leader LIXIL Global Design EMENA at GROHE, talks about the importance of health, well-being, and sustainability in the hospitality sector
Well-being has become a global movement. How do you define this?
This can be defined by the fact that consumers want to take good care of their health and well-being to live better lives, that are also more sustainable and better for the environment. Especially now, the bathroom is understood as a deliberate contrast to the hectic world outside, it has become an oasis of well-being, a personal retreat for body and soul. This goes hand-in-hand with the fact that consumers expect more from their bathroom products: they should create precisely those special moments.
COVID-19 has changed our thinking process like never making health and well-being a priority. What kind of transformation can you see at GROHE and in your industry?
The year 2020, has left a major impact on many industries across the world, especially the industry of hygiene and sanitisation. People are looking to recreate well-being experiences in the comfort of their homes while ensuring the highest hygiene standards. At GROHE, we can say that we are already experiencing a higher demand for our hygiene enhancing products – from both our private and business customers.
What are the consumer’s new expectations in the pandemic context in terms of hygiene and how can a brand like GROHE fulfill those needs?
Touching surfaces is not an attractive option anymore. With our wide range of touchless and hands-free products, like the infra-red faucet GROHE Essence E or the kitchen faucet GROHE SmartControl, we have the right response to this increased need of hygiene as they minimise the risk of spreading germs and cross-contamination.
How do you see this shift towards hygiene and well-being affecting the hospitality sector?
The COVID-19 pandemic has highly affected the hospitality sector considering travel restrictions and safety measures that were imposed in many countries around the world. People are eager to be able to travel again, but in the new normal, travellers and guests are prioritising safety and hygiene when choosing their accommodation creating new needs that hotels will have to meet.
Do you think the design of the hotels needs to change as well? If yes, then how?
Yes, adaptation is a must. GROHE is mapping out how improved architecture and design can help tackle current hygiene challenges. Particular attention with regard to these requirements is paid to areas like hotel bathrooms, public washrooms, and spas. Touchless faucets, controlled by an infrared sensor, can be a good alternative to make hand-washing more hygienic. Thanks to the activation of the water flow by just holding the hands under the spout, the spread of germs and cross-contamination are minimised.
What kind of offerings from GROHE can lead to the well-being of guests at hotels and how can technology play a vital role here?
Intelligent technology is increasingly used in the hospitality sector to guarantee a clean and comfortable space. But I believe technology is an enabler and not a solution itself. We need to ask what the purpose is and how it is going to impact our customer’s lives.
For example, using GROHE’s infra-red and touchless technologies in a public space like a hotel gym can have a great impact on the consumer journey and the hotel’s offering as these technologies minimize cross-contamination, from the faucet to the shower to the toilet, creating a more hygienic and comfortable experience for guests who still seek to use the health and fitness facilities available at hotels.
What is your business strategy in this regard?
For decades, we have supported designers and architects and equipped hotels with high-quality fittings, showers, and sanitary systems. For each hotel category we have the perfect product to meet the highest standards based on our brand pillars quality, technology, design and sustainability. With new hygiene measures being rolled out, intelligent architectural concepts are playing a key role in improving consumer health and safety, especially in public spaces such as lavatories, offices, or restaurants. Developing touchless products to improve hygiene in sensitive areas like these is not a new topic – we offer this portfolio for private and public settings since years. We aim to continue growing this portfolio, living up to our reputation as a pioneering brand in the sanitary industry.
How do you see the future of hospitality?
Despite the unprecedented circumstances witnessed by the hospitality sector this past year, it still remains resilient in the face of these new challenges. Today there are countless actions adapted to each market, considering the severity of what is happening. The first thing the sector must do is transmit a message of security and normality. We have a pipeline of almost 600 new developments in the hospitality sector in the MENA, of which 46 are within the UAE. This shows how the sector is succeeding in taking action towards creating this sense of normality and as GROHE, we have a great responsibility towards our partners to support them in acquiring the latest innovations and technologies in hygiene that guarantee a state-of-the-art offering to their guests.