I immediately noticed the neon-yellow sign on the new location of the Pho Bar in Chinatown. The curved yellow letters write "Crazy Rich Broth"; The same phrase on the back of the server shirts. It's a kind of minimalist yet colorful design feature that's especially popular on Instagram ̵
The sign is a central point at the front of the New York restaurant, a beacon that seems to say, "You're entering a photo-friendly room now."
Banana wallpaper, a version of which became famous in the Beverly Hills Hotel frames the walls behind the tables. After we sat down, my friend grabbed his phone. "Shall I take a picture of you?" I said yes without skipping a beat. It just seemed like you were going to start with this scenery. Even the label of my beer ( Gao imported from China) was pretty, printed with white lotus flowers against a dark turquoise background – I quickly took a picture of it and added it to my Instagram story. 19659003] Small cards at each table gave guests the official hashtag of the restaurant (#phobarnyc, name and location of the restaurant, of course). In the bathroom with green, translucent wallpaper printed with cherry blossoms, I made two videos in which I danced in front of the mirror. Given the aesthetics of the restaurant, I expected an equally well-planned and enjoyable meal.
In the Pho Bar, the soup is deconstructed in a hot pot style. Boiler-balanced bowls of boiling broth came along with our selected ingredients (short ribs, bean sprouts and bok choi) to our table, which we then cooked ourselves. However, the table was too small to comfortably accommodate this extravagant lineup. The food was good, of course – Pho is a balm during an icy winter in New York City – but it did not seem to be as well thought-out as the design.
Around us, our roommates stood from their seats to take photos and videos of the seething broths.
Every element of the restaurant, from the quirky bath to the banana leaf wallpaper, the interactive self-service dinner style and the bright lighting, creates a space that not only suits, but actively encourages them to photograph Instagram – one drastic change from the early days of social media, when guests saw their food being publicly mockingly and shamefully photographed. With a photograph from the right angle, nobody would know that the cramped tables made it difficult to comfortably enjoy the food – they just knew there was a lot of it and it looked delicious!
The designers see the restaurant as a whole vacation-industry complex overlooking Instagrammers. Everything from what you eat, while you travel, what you do on vacation, and even where you sleep, is the Instagram overhaul. In many cases, restaurants and hotels want to offer guests a versatile experience that includes food, service, and increasingly, a photo-friendly design. But do the realities correspond to the socially divisible # expectations?
Although our service may have been poorly executed, Pho Bar is charming and memorable. The days have passed since it was considered rude to take pictures at the dining table. Well, it's an easy way to thank the restaurant for a satisfying meal, not just in terms of food, but the overall experience of being in the restaurant.
Chef and co-owner Mike Khuu says this setup is designed entirely for design. "Our goal was for every area of the room to look photogenic, so that images look good from every angle," he says. He "appreciates" how he photographs guests in his restaurants, and that the lighting is intentionally bright to accommodate the "faster, happier" atmosphere of the restaurant. He "wanted to mirror that energy throughout the restaurant."
And he has noticed that the trend is emerging throughout the industry. "Many restaurants are brighter, looser and more entertaining these days," he says. "Neon advertisements like our Crazy Rich Broth sign are also very popular and are in line with this fast paced energy."
Still, he says reviews on platforms such as Yelp are authoritative in the hospitality industry, as customers can directly address the quality of the food and service (Pho Bar currently has a rating of four out of five stars in Yelp) ,
"Instagram shows only positive reviews People will not post a restaurant image that is not the case You look good on Instagram, and in most cases there is no real feedback, but Instagram is definitely important because it encourages people to come in, "he adds.
Elena Ristovski, Creative Director of New York's Infamous Bistro, agrees with Khuu's assessment of the current state of gastronomy. The newly opened restaurant has recently installed a lush green wall of potted plants as backdrop for the dining tables.
"I think Instagram overwhelms Yelp and TripAdvisor when it comes to people looking for places to visit and eat," she explains. "Beautiful photos of the food and the space on Instagram overshadow any criticism that Yelp users may share, especially as I read fewer people today and trust Yelp."
As Instagram affects snowballs, hotels may have the pressure to adapt to them, perhaps even more than restaurants. Hotels are increasingly working with Instagram travel bloggers and influencers. At the Beau-Rivage Palace in Lausanne, Switzerland, Instagram and TripAdvisor have the same priority when it comes to attracting new guests, according to Annina Jung, the hotel's marketing manager. In an e-mail, Jung told us that working with influencers has become essential to their business strategy. An influencer hosts the hotel with more demographic eyes, as it would not be achievable with a traditional campaign, and with more followers of its Instagram account, all of whom are treated as potential guests.
Even The legendary Grand Wailea, a Waldorf Astoria resort in Maui, sees forced to serve Instagram. Chelsea Livit, director of the hotel's public relations hotel, said "Instagram has become a higher priority" because it helps her team interact with guests who are currently in or plan to stay there, while TripAdvisor only provides the feedback receives from guests who have already done so left.
Long-established hotels like Grand Wailea, which were not designed for Instagram, still attract hordes of would-be influencers. Take the Hotel Casa San Agustin with 31 rooms in Cartagena, Colombia. The L-shaped pool over which a rustic stone wall forms a quadrangular archway and lush greenery hanging from the ceiling and surrounding walls is a sudden social media hotspot.
"It has become organically one own Instagram moment, "Christina McGoldrick, who heads the hotel's PR team, explains. She explains: "90% of guests sharing their stay on social media post photos from this pool, and most influencers who want to stay on the property want to take and post a photo from the pool."
Shea Powell, a travel influencer with more than 60,000 followers on Instagram, often works with hotels. During her long journey from Powell – from Germany to Alaska – she has watched how hotel design evolved with eye-catching elements like this. Powell has populated her profile with photos of white sand beaches, clear aquamarine water, bright pink and emerald green, and occasional minimalist hotel rooms.
Powell is a frequent guest at Skylark Negril in Jamaica – simple and clean White-walled hotel that blasts the breathtaking blue of the nearby ocean. She calls it "chic and modern". The hotel's signpost is filled with photos of the turquoise hotel room doors and banana leaf wallpaper in the lobby. Eye-catching design features like these that blend well with an Instagram tile are becoming more prevalent in hotels.
"Real estate is now more socially friendly and more attractive to Instagram," Powell explains. "It's brilliant in a way, it's free advertising because a paying guest always takes a photo of the hotel for social media."
However, that does not mean the service is always as impressive as the hotel looks like. Powell admits that the enviable travel experiences she publishes in her feed can sometimes be deceptive.
"There are instances when the hotel looks so good, but the service or experience is bland. It's not always as good as it seems," she says. "In any case, I've already posted a few photos that I did not find great in the experience, but they had an impressive view, for example."
Powell remembers a special occasion during a five-month tour of Central America. She showed up in a jungle style hotel and was immediately impressed. But when she tried to check in, the hotel had no reservation. The hotel put her in a room that the staff had not prepared for guests. Even when she settled down, the staff, which she described as "rude," did not explain the amenities the hotel offered and did not make an effort to feel comfortable after the mess. She was so disappointed by the experience that she had finally decided not to write about the hotel in her travel blog.
Instagram creates a holiday culture where the experience of your hotel stay does not matter – everything that looks like is important. Most people prefer the fantasy of reality, which could explain the rise of popular Instagram experiences like the Museum of Ice Cream. While these mobile photo booths are generally freestanding, a hotel has recently opened. The expansive Hilton Hawaiian Village Resort in Honolulu, which features 2,860 rooms and 140,000 square meters of retail space, now houses Epic Aloha, a 12-room interactive photo experience.
Matt Baysinger, CEO and co-founder of Epic Aloha, explains this A "hotel offered foot traffic for our brand new concept to reach families and solo travelers." In other words, it is aimed specifically at the tourism market. At the same time: "The operation of Epic Aloha at Hilton's estate faces the challenge of entertaining a whole family when they need a break from outside, be it too much sun or rain," he adds.
Adding interactive, instagrammable features is just like a hotel trying to profile itself in the Instagram era. To survive, restaurants and hotels must adapt to the requirements of social media. People now choose where to eat and stay, based on new criteria: is it photogenic? Does it fit well in an Instagram tile? Restaurants and hotels are looking for designers to help them prioritize the aesthetics of their spaces with a quality menu and service.
"Hospitality customers are increasingly demanding designs that promote Instagram sharing," said Douglas DeBoer, founder and CEO of Rebel Design. "Creating" instagramable "moments is now part of most architectural briefs, and customers are asking us to consider the platform when designing projects."
Rebel works with a team of Instagram influencers who provide input and "conceptual direction" for the final design. Normally, Rebel uses simple, clean fonts and "creates design elements within the picture frame for posting on social media layers". Social media appeal is not usually the determining factor in the design strategy of a restaurant or hotel, but DeBoer stresses that its importance has "increased significantly" in recent years as Instagram becomes more popular.
The use of Instagram as a tool to arouse interest and excitement in a hotel signals how the hotel industry is changing. Jack Bedwani, founder of the brand consultancy The Projects, which has worked with W Hotels, says hotels are now moving away from the "Experience Economy" (a term coined by Joseph Pine, a consulting consultant). picture economics. "
"Through the experience economy, we have witnessed the rise of boutique hotels like Chateau Marmont, the minute you walked in the door, you had a very specific experience. Well, the memory of your experience is not & # 1. 39; Enough, it has to have the picture to make it secure. "
The mindset of a typical tourist or travel blogger is," If you had not put the photo on Instagram, would you really have had the experience? "Hotels are leaning Engage in this concept and try to make every element of the hotel Instagram-friendly. It is what defines Bedwani as a "holistic" approach to design, perhaps as an example of the new Equinox Hotel opening in New York this summer. It already boasts that it's not for everyone because it's pushing the New York mentality "work hard play hard".
"It will be a true representation of Equinox values for high performance life," explains Bedwani. "You can train anytime, but there will also be a high-end bar where you can get a great, dirty martini."
Previously, a hotel needed only one central design element that would make it unavoidable social media. For example, the escalator at the New York Public Hotel (designed by legendary hotelier Ian Schrager) was one of the pioneers of this phenomenon. The place name for the hotel on Instagram is mostly populated by shots of the escalator – I stopped counting at 15 – lit by neon red and yellow stripes.
However, Bedwani believes that this approach to hotel design is rapidly advancing (and pop-up Instagram experiences like the Rose Mansion (19459032) along with her)).
"It's not a feature wall anymore, it's not an element in the room, it has to be more three-dimensional," Bedwani explains. "There is no photo moment, but many different opportunities throughout the room, and that is the challenge."
Both bonafide influencers and those who simply aspire to the title, at least want to feel like they have a certain perspective on the room. Not that it's just another anonymous person in front of one and the same Wall (or escalator) has photographed.
"Hotels need to give customers the opportunity to customize their own experiences," explains Bedwani. "Let the guest be his own curator."
Ristovski has found that restaurants also work harder to create an unforgettable experience that goes beyond the menu, both in the presentation of food and in the design of restaurants. In the Infamous Bistro (formerly known as Infamous Chicken), the living plant walls and hand-crafted plates of potter's studio Mugi pamper their guests during the meal in Instagram moments.
"A bar raises the question" What is our Instagram moment? "She explains." Even chefs change their menus to make dishes that are well-photographed. "
However, a photo never tells the story Maybe it's a tight table that does not quite fit in your soup cups, or an unfriendly hotel staff moving your reservation, and as hotels and restaurants start prioritizing Instagram's clout, the practicalities of the business seem to fall by the wayside But is it important? If a restaurant or hotel promises a flashy Instagram photo that enhances your social media profile, you may be more inclined to miss out on the unconventional service. Improving customer satisfaction will continue to be difficult. Even in places where the hospitality is below average, but the design is on the dot, it is a win for guests looking for a perfect experience looking for a vacation. Instagram lets her rewrite her experiences to project on her profile page an aura of perfection – even if the reality does not fit. The illusion is enough to satisfy people – and businesses – who care about what they look like on social media (and that's just about everyone today). Performances can affect or destroy the reputation of a restaurant or hotel. The hospitality industry may change, but perhaps this is always the only constant.
This article was created during the special coverage of gadget hacks about traveling with your smartphone. Take a look at the entire travel series.