January 08, 2014

The benefits of configuring part of your hotel as ‘third space’


The third space describes a place where people congregate outside of the home (first space) and the office (second space). If you can engineer parts of your hotel - the lobby, the restaurant, the bar, the café and so forth - as flourishing third spaces, then it will play to your advantage for higher occupancy levels and hotel cachet.

You’ve probably heard the term “third space,” and you’ve probably given it some thought. With all the recent shifts in consumer behavior, however, it’s important that you understand this concept in full and how you might use it to enhance a property’s atmosphere.

Originally coined by the sociologist Ray Oldenburg in his book “The Great Good Place,” the term is formally used to represent public or neutral centers for community building, civic engagement, intellectual discourse, peer encouragement and group validation. Cafés, markets, bazaars, pubs, bars, clubs, shopping malls, plazas, gyms, spas, barber shops, hair salons recreation halls and even post offices can fit the bill as long as they are designed correctly. Third spaces are, in essence, places where we can unleash our social animals by exchanging opinions, stories and theories to the benefit of all present.

Starbucks is an excellent example of third space. The franchise has experienced exponential growth in the past two decades principally due to its superb products but also because of the atmosphere the stores exude. For instance, the vibe is not one of “grab and get out as quickly as possible,” even though that is a very likely consumer action. Rather, the universal application of warmly colored furnishings and humble décor at the shops encourages customers to sit and enjoy their beverages or snacks. Follow its lead: Designing a food-and-beverage outlet with the third space in mind will boost sales.

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