AV technology increasingly becoming part of hospitality design: Jeff Loether [Video]

by | Aug 4, 2019 | Experts

From hotel rooms, interiors, infrastructure to technology, AV design plays a crucial role in enhancing guests’ sensory experiences, says Founder & President of Electro-Media Design Jeff Loether.

Only a handful of people in the hospitality industry would be able to take a look at a hotel room or events space and be able to determine whether the room itself, the interiors, AV technology and infrastructure raises or reduces stress.

Jeff Loether is one of those experts.

He founded Electro-Media Design in 1990 to provide audiovisual consulting and design, based on pioneering practices such as ArchiTechnology (the study of human perception mechanisms) and AVaStar.

On the sidelines of TOPHOTELWORLDTOUR Los Angeles, Loether spoke to TOPHOTELNEWS about latest AV tech trends in the hospitality industry and the constant endeavour to enhance the sensory experiences and thereby the overall well-being of guests.

Meeting planners and changing demographic needs

Loether: I think that the most pressing challenges would relate to trying to predict and accommodate changing tastes in the demographic of the attendees and the meeting planners’ expectations. The meeting planners are also trying to chase and figure out how do we accommodate the changing demographic interests.

The interesting thing that we found is that the technology, audio and visual technology is so dependent on the room itself, and room acoustics and lighting, that when we look at designing rooms that are accommodating to the technology, as a byproduct, we’re getting rooms that are even better for the human beings who are attending it themselves. Low reverberation times, low background noise, more of a sense of acoustic intimacy, not only is better for audio and video equipment, but it’s also better for the people themselves.

Tech-orating aka technology as part of hospitality design

Loether: One of the most interesting changes has been that for the first 20 or so years of my practice, I was always having to hide the audio visual elements, conceal them, make it go away, paint it out, make it so it disappears unless we’re needing it.

In the last five years, there have been more interest in saying: Well, how can we feature it? How can we have the technology be part of the design? We call this tech-orating. Now I didn’t coin the term, but it is what we’re doing now.

We’re getting questions like can we use ambient videos? Can we create virtual windows and window-less meeting rooms by using the big display, and a camera may be on the golf course or on the harbor. How can we allow the technology to be featured much like it is in homes and offices of the meeting attendees? They’re accustomed to technology being part of the design. And that’s a big change, and that also means a lot of very close work with interior designers, lighting designers, structural engineers, and that’s what we love to do.

ArchiTechnology and human perception of experiences

Loether: At Electro-Media Design, we call our practice ArchiTechnology, and what we study is the human perception mechanisms. How does the eye work? How does the ear work? How does the brain receive information? We look at how does the technologies, the audio visual technologies that are used in meetings and events and for entertainment, how do they work?

And then how does the room itself, the interiors, the infrastructure, affect the effectiveness of the technology, and does it raise stress or does it reduce stress? Does it enhance the technology performance or does it resist and fight the technology? We call that ArchiTechnology, and as a practice, I think we’re unique in that.

We don’t do IT. We live in the world of analog because human beings are analog entities. Our perception mechanisms are analog. So we design for accommodating the human being and the technology that communicates with the human beings. What it really is down to is the human experience. So, an experience is a perception, and that perception creates an emotion, and then that emotion is tied to a memory. So we all say we want to have excellent guest experiences. If we understand what created that experience in the first place, then we can design for those sensory experiences.

Helping hospitality staff manage built-in AV tech wit3h AVaStar

Loether: It used to be that AV tech was all portable, and it had to be brought in, and wires taped across the floor, and speakers on sticks, and tripod screens, projectors on carts. Now that it’s being built-in because it’s affordable, and it’s reliable, and it’s aesthetically much more pleasing than it used to be.

Now that it’s being built-in, hotel operations has to find a way of learning how to use it and manage it and maintain it and also make it available for the guest’s use, and we’re active in that. We’re the only ones that we know that have a platform or a program called AVaStar. AVaStar is our support for operations, so it helps the hotels or the venues learn how to offer these technologies to the guests for their meetings and events, to maintain it, and to account for it. It’s very profitable for the hotels.

Thoughts on TOPHOTELWORLDTOUR

Loether: My experience here at TOPHOTELWORLDTOUR — and this is my first time — is just how wonderfully generous and friendly everybody is. Everybody’s looking for ways of listening about what do you do and how can I help you. And I really love that. It’s part of being in the hospitality world. It’s accommodating and helping each other. I love that.

Jeff Loether was a delegate at TOPHOTELWORLDTOUR Los Angeles 2019. To attend, address or sponsor our boutique hospitality networking events around the world, contact TOPHOTELPROJECTS Head of Global Events & Conferences Kayley van der Velde.

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