December 14, 2017

How Influencers And Cultural Tourism Are Leading Hotels To Elevate Their Art

Over the past 25 years, Terry Eaton's firm, Eaton Fine Art, has specialized in curating and collaborating on art programs for the hospitality industry.

by Terry Eaton

Eaton Fine Art
InterContinental Hotel, Stephen F. Austin.
Terry Eaton
Terry Eaton.

With the rise of international art fairs, more travelers are using cultural events and art hubs to decide their destination. This same jet-setting crowd of influencers is also more inclined to choose venues and hotels that embrace bold aesthetics, often inspiring others to do the same. How then can hoteliers ensure their hotels catch the discerning eyes, and Instagram audiences, of this trendy set without changing their brand identity or alienating other audiences? One of the answers is by making art a larger priority within their spaces.

Over the past 25 years, my firm, Eaton Fine Art, has specialized in curating and collaborating on art programs for the hospitality industry. As chief curator and founder, I've seen how art can endow a space with new spirit, transforming a hotel into a destination with a refreshed ambiance. The reason behind this is that art has the ability to create or extend a brand narrative, giving a fresh twist to a space or deepening an existing story. This proves an incredibly important tool for hoteliers who wish to reach new clientele, allowing for a more site-specific approach to their venues. Localized narratives and artwork provide hotels with a boutique aesthetic and an increased sense of authenticity, which is particularly popular with today's millennial travelers — a group that is prioritizing travel more frequently. By sourcing art from within the region, a hotel can better reflect the local culture and style, adding to the sense of place. At the same time, a bespoke and thoughtful art program elevates the overall property, enhancing the atmosphere with a sense of luxury and sophistication enjoyable for guests of all ages.

Ritz Carlton Waikiki
Ritz Carlton Waikiki.

Another noteworthy way that art can make a property stand out is through the creation of "social media moments." These moments are not points in time, but rather can be achieved through strategically placed artworks that have a strong presence both in person and online — resulting in more guests posting the images and sharing the experience of being in the space on photo-sharing platforms like Instagram. Hoteliers can create these wow factors with interactive multimedia features and artistic installations in public spaces. The art should not only speak to the interiors and spaces, but also continue to be fun for guests and foster their engagement. These outstanding artworks can then take on a viral internet presence that can assist with a hotel's virtual prestige. The photos shared — and tagged — online can be an additional asset to a hotel's marketing team, leading to organic word-of-mouth growth and increased visibility.

The Canyon Suites at the Phoenician
The Canyon Suites at the Phoenician.

Impressive artworks can also boost the "real world" reputation of a space. Collaborating with or purchasing art from well-known artists and implementing statement pieces often leads to buzz about a hotel, intriguing many people to visit the site as they would a museum. This may, in turn, transform a hotel from a place for visitors to sleep into a place for cosmopolitan denizens to gather. Such artworks can also act as investments for hotel owners, as they appreciate over time, ensuring the art within the hotel remains a literal valuable asset in addition to an intangible one. It should be noted that, while many famous artworks can fetch a hefty price, there are plenty of worthy contemporary artists whose artwork has not yet reached the zenith of their potential value. By keeping an eye on the art market, or collaborating with someone who keeps a constant pulse on its frequent shifts, hoteliers can integrate artwork by up-and-coming talents into a hotel's design, again, acting as an investment while adding visual stimulation to the space.

The Canyon Suites at the Phoenician
The Canyon Suites at the Phoenician.

Curated art programs have the ability to elevate hotels and the guest experience, satiating travelers' desires for authentic and engaging elements. Additionally, as more people travel in order to see artwork at museums and fairs, it makes sense that the appreciation of artwork within other spaces, including hotels, would increase as well. By creating localized art programs and focusing on stand-out pieces, hotel owners can reach a new audience, both in person and online. Thoughtfully curated art programs have increased value above mere decoration; they are a way to extend a narrative and engage guests, differentiating hotels from their competition.

Terry Eaton Fine Art
Terry Eaton Fine Art.

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