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21c Museum Hotels and FirstBuild to Ponder the Hotel Stay of the Future

At FirstBuild, we appreciate the creative vibrant energy that one experiences walking into the Louisville 21c hotel, museum, and Proof restaurant!  When Craig Greenberg, President and founding partner of 21c, asked if we’d be interested in brainstorming together around the hotel experience of the future, we jumped at the opportunity.  What began as a tour and overview of the FirstBuild model, evolved into a full morning workout and collaborative thinking session.

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We kicked off the morning in the FirstBuild microfactory, so the 21c team could see the collaborative product development, advance manufacturing techniques, and low-volume manufacturing first hand.  Thoughts were already spinning around where we might see 3D printing in hotel rooms, or how a MicroKitchen could fit into the stay experience.

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To get everyone warmed up and ready to think, we enjoyed some breakfast pizza from the pizza oven and fresh roasted coffee while breaking into smaller groups for the exercise.  When everyone was well fed, the teams travelled to 21c to take a look at some signature rooms.  While enjoying a great view in a rooftop balcony room, the FirstBuild team got familiar with the expected amenities of good lighting, comfortable rooms, mini bars, coffee makers, and technology for entertainment. Asleep in the Cyclone, a combination of hotel room and art installment, opened everyone’s eyes to how fun and memorable a thoughtfully unique hotel stay can be.

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After teams got acquainted with each other and our companies’ cultures, the small groups made of 21c and FirstBuild employees sat down to talk about the opportunities to improve the hotel stay experience and the creative solutions or technologies that might be used.  The following opportunities were common themes for the session:
–  How do you access your room and keep track of your key/card?
–  Should a hotel room know my preferences for temperature, lighting, entertainment, and refreshments?
–  Where can my room allow technology charge and connect, staying current with developments?
–  How can good lighting be customized, but easily controlled?
–  Is it possible to provide any food or drink a visitors wants quickly and without interrupting their routine?
–  Is it possible to avoid noise from inside and outside the room?
–  What is the best way to keep staff informed about guests and happenings?

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Creative ideas came quickly to the group; technology inspired a smart display mirror sharing only the desired information when it’s wanted.  Connectivity could adjust lights based on your preferences and bring entertainment from your existing device or streaming accounts up quickly while keeping your information secure.  Maybe the minibar of the future is stocked based on what you like, or is a bank tube that automatically delivers your items requested with a text message.  Water is a big part of any hotel stay, so could difference types of ice be made in the room, taps filtered for drinking water without plastic bottle waste, and shower temperatures adjusted with a simple digital dial.  A closet with a steam feature could quickly de-wrinkle unpacked clothes.  Natural light and the feel of room space can be maximized with the use of solar tubes or light pipes and internal glass walls.

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So where do go with all of these great ideas go?  We are looking into hosting a collaborative design challenge, or featuring a FirstBuild room at 21c with the newest products available for use during a stay.  Now we need your feedback and ideas. Do you see other opportunities around the hotel stay experience?  What technologies would you like to see featured in a room?

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