The Changing Face of Hospitality Lighting

The Changing Face of Hospitality Lighting

The Changing Face of Hospitality Lighting
Courtesy/News Source: ledworldmag.com

Lighting is a crucial component of hospitality business, and with the tourism industry booming in the country, the need to innovate in both façade and interior lighting has gained priority. Hotels are focused on creating unique experiences for their guests in order to ensure customer loyalty, while at the same time, reducing costs and promoting sustainable solutions. 

Hospitality, a key contributor to the tertiary sector in India, is currently emerging as a booming industry owing to the fact that India has become a destination of choice for various local and international visitors. Realising the potential in Indian tourism industry, the government has taken several steps in this regard with campaigns such as ‘Incredible India’ and schemes like Swadesh Darshan to develop theme-based tourist circuits in the country.

Apart from regular travel, there has also been a rise in medical tourism in India due to the availability of world-class amenities at a reasonable cost. The government is hoping to achieve 1% share in world’s international tourist arrivals by 2020 and 2% share by 2025. The travel & tourism sector in India also helps generate a lot of employment opportunities and it accounted for 8% of the total jobs generated in the country in 2017. This number is expected to rise by 2% per annum to 52.3 million jobs by 2028.

With such bright prospects, it is evident that the Indian tourism sector is a goldmine of opportunities for various stakeholders. One of the main vertices of tourism is the hospitality industry which caters to different kinds of visitors by providing diverse services such as lodging, food & bar facilities, theme parks, convention halls, etc. In coming times, country will see a lot of national and International hotel chains expanding their presence in the country with the government allowing 100% FDI through automatic route. A five-year tax holiday has been offered for two, three and four star category hotels located around UNESCO World Heritage sites (except Delhi and Mumbai). Due to all these factors, the FDI received by Indian hotel and tourism sector stood at $12 billion between April 2000 and December 2018.

Opportunities Galore for Lighting!
This growth in tourism has also enhanced the prospects for the lighting industry as the demand for new and innovative lighting fixtures and lamps has increased manifold. In this article, we would focus on lighting in hotels, clubs, restaurants, etc., thereby giving an overview of what the industry stakeholders are up to in order to meet the growing needs of the hospitality sector. The role of lighting is paramount in the hospitality industry, and its efficient use is enough to make a difference in the ambience of a hotel or a restaurant. Lighting must complement the interiors of the building and be able to create a warm and welcoming environment for visitors.

Sushant Surve, Principal Designer, Brainwave Designs, says, “The Indian hospitality industry has emerged as one of the key growing service sectors in India. It has seen tremendous creativity and revenue generation by bringing under one roof multi-purpose halls, ball rooms, convention centres, stores, exotic spas, bars, entertainment areas, gyms, disco, lounge bars, a range of different suites, rooms, etc. Besides, the facades have become an essential part to have a magnetic effect on passers-by and guests, attracting more customers. An important feature of façade is lighting and the growing demand for it has led to a surge in lighting industry, both in design as well as product sector. In fact, lighting industry has grown exponentially pan-globe.”

As per Nivedita Sehrawat, Creative Director, Design Matrix, “Hospitality was the first architectural segment where lighting design was accepted as a full-fledged, specialised discipline. Before that lighting designers were required only in films and theatres. Since then, the industry, the market and the users have come a long way.”

LEDs Leading the Way!
Hospitality lighting has got a major facelift after the large scale adoption of LEDs, and it has given them opportunities to experiment like never before. Due to the durability and energy efficiency that comes with LEDs, many lighting companies and designers are using them in innovative ways while designing their products. With the advent of LEDs, huge possibilities in colour options have made architects and designers spoilt for choice as they get a better chance to experiment with a new hue or their combination. Moreover, all this has to be done with a focus on costs and sustainability, for which LEDs are a great solution.

Dr. Amardeep M. Dugar, Founder & Principal, Lighting Research & Design gives his view and says, “LED lighting technology has initiated a plethora of changes in hospitality lighting design strategies. The most obvious change is that their versatility due to their miniature size makes them suitable for both classic and contemporary designs. This enables a lot of experimentation, where LEDs can be inconspicuously integrated with different materials, forms and functionality, which were previously not possible. For example, a hotel with a boutique look doesn’t require a modern contemporary lighting, hence, LEDs can be integrated into existing classical fixtures and architectural details to bring them to modern times at the same time have an old-world design. LEDs can create an atmospheric yet energy-efficient design, which combine warm, ambient light with a long lifetime and extremely low energy costs.”

“LED lighting technology has revolutionised the lighting design process. Before the advent of LEDs, controlling the older technologies was simple – switch or dim. But LEDs is a complex world of hardware, electronics, software and digital controls. The lighting design process for ‘smart’ lighting now involves mastering control and content design. World-renowned lighting designer Martin Klaasen argues that its not only about adding smart features to lighting solutions and in the process making lighting designers less relevant; its time to start thinking smarter and differently,” adds Dugar.

According to Sehrawat, few years ago, when LEDs became commercially available, the push was always on energy saving. “There was a lot of skepticism on the quality of light, and it was understood that energy saving came at the cost of loss in quality of light, as compared to a halogen. The LEDs were also priced higher then, so the only application in a hotel where ROIs made any sense while making the switch to LEDs, was in the guest corridors as these lights were on 24×7. Since then the technology and efficiency has advanced to a great deal and now superior LED lamps are in fact full spectrum and at par with the light from a halogen. From the low-budget to the high-end brands and boutique hotels, the transition to LEDs is complete, not just in architectural but also in the decorative lights; although the quality of equipment afforded by each differs.”

Surve comments, “Integration of intelligent system has now become an integral part of lighting design because of the flexibilities achieved with the usage of LED.”

Leaving a Bright Mark!
Lighting is one of the most essential aspects in creating a memorable experience for visitors in a dine-out restaurant or a guest in a hotel. The ambience inside a building is a key reason for customer loyalty as people tend to repeat their visits in a place which puts them at ease. Lighting complements the interiors and many times even accentuates them giving a fresh feel to the existing set-up. One does not feel attracted to a building with poor quality or distasteful lighting. Moreover, in today’s times when photography has become an important part of any event, lighting must be such as to bring out the best of every subject.

In such a scenario, the main concern of all lighting stakeholders in the hospitality industry is to meet the varied needs of their clients and present them with design plans that are high on efficiency and low on costs. Dugar says, “Typical requirement of clients from the hospitality industry include ‘inviting light’ that creates a welcoming first impression, innovative lighting concepts that can offer optimum working conditions for staff, reduced energy and maintenance costs, etc. There are various factors that inspire my design thinking process such as context of the place in terms geo-cultural location, history, architectural form, spatial usability patterns, etc. Design Brief in terms of client requirements, architects’ or interior designers’ vision also play a vital role in developing design ideas and concepts.”

Sehrawat says, “Good glare control in the fixture and robust lighting control components and system were traditionally the hallmark of good lighting in a hotel, understanding that high colour rendering light sources and a well-designed lighting scheme are a given. But the industry is quite mature now, and has moved on from these basic features towards a demand for personalised, flexible, human centric light and experience.”

Today, as LEDs have become synonymous with lighting, it has paved the way for amalgamation of lighting design with technology. Commenting on the use of new technologies in hospitality lighting infrastructure, Surve says, “A revolution is being experienced while designing bars and discotheques as we see new technologies evolving around LED. Technology is a serious component in delivering exceptional guest experiences in hotels, conference centres and other hospitality locations. As technology serves to further transform the hospitality sector, the network will play a leading role. Having the right network infrastructure in place to handle increasing bandwidth and data management needs will help improve and create new guest experiences that anticipate and meet evolving guest expectations.”

With the present lighting solutions, illumination is not just about lighting up the environs but also about creating an inviting ambience with the use of warm lights combined with innovative installations and fixtures. Moreover, it is possible to bring together beauty and energy-efficiency in designs without worrying about durability. We are also witnessing a new trend wherein lighting designers are integrating lights into the existing architecture and interiors. LEDs have made this possible as this technology has provided the much- needed flexibility to lighting designs and its effects are amazing.

There is also a growing interest around eco-friendly practices in hospitality industry. On this aspect, Surve says, “There has been an exponential rise in the number of LEED-certified hotel projects in recent years. Eco-friendly practices are becoming the norm as properties focus on renewable energy resources and water scarcity. Many hotels are installing solar panels and updating systems so that air conditioners and lights automatically switch off when guests leave their rooms. The maintenance cost has seen a significant drop because of LEDs.”

Humans at the Centre of Lighting
As the lighting industry is getting advanced in terms of technology and sustainability, there is also a move towards health-centric lighting, especially in hospitality. Years of research on the way light affects our bodies has proved that the right kind of light makes a lot of difference. It influences our circadian rhythms, eye strain and alertness.

International WELL Building Institute says, “In addition to facilitating vision, light influences the human body in non-visual ways. Humans and animals have internal clocks that synchronise physiological functions on roughly a 24-hour cycle called the circadian rhythm. The body responds to a number of zeitgebers—the external cues that align physiological functions to the solar day in this cycle. Light is the most important of these zeitgebers, keeping the body’s internal clocks synchronised in a process known as circadian photoentrainment.”

Therefore, it is important that the amount of lux produced by a light should have the elasticity to change so that one can adjust it as per their needs. However, there is a need for more research on this topic in order to understand all facets of health-centric lighting. Some companies like Signify and Osram are working on this, and are providing lighting solutions to suit the requirements of hotels, offices, etc. Since humans live under a substantial amount of artificial lighting, human-centric solutions are highly required to reduce the harm caused by such lighting.

Giving her views on human-centric lighting, Sehrawat says, “Today, focus for lighting is shifting from the traditional lux to a new metric called the Equivalent Melanopic Lux (EML) – something that’s defined in terms of how ipRGC photoreceptors in our eyes ‘see’ light rather than the cones. This research is driving the realisation around human centric light – and the value and role of light as one of the main drivers of the body clock, regulating body function, affecting hormone production and our sleep-wake cycle. While the terms may seem unfamiliar and technical, we all have experienced the stimulus cool light brings and the restfulness brought by low frequency, warm light.”

“We were approached by an international hotel brand to design the lighting for their next-gen rooms. Taking their cues and building on the brief with our knowledge, and awareness of market, new technologies, we came up with a lighting design that was personalised with bio-rhythmic light and the potential to be future forward,” she adds.

Quoting Lighting Europe, Dugar says, “Human centric lighting is a type of lighting that supports the health, wellbeing and performance of humans by combining visual, biological and emotional benefits of light.” He is of the view that Human Centric Lighting is the latest (and most abused!) marketing buzzword in the lighting industry. Voicing his apprehensions, he says, “Every other lighting manufacturer claims to have figured the right formula to create perfect human-centric lighting, and is thereby misleading clients and end-users. However, renowned lighting expert Dr. Karolina Zielinska-Dabkowska argues that such claims cannot be legitimate when our knowledge about the full and complex impact of artificial lighting on human biology is limited; let alone how to responsibly apply this new approach.”

“Lighting manufacturers claim that by changing the Correlated Colour Temperature (CCT) of LED lighting technology, they can mimic the irradiance and spectrum of natural sunlight to provide human centric lighting. However, Dr. Zielinska-Dabkowska says that the crux lies in the Spectral Power Distribution (SPD) of the light source (and not CCT) as certain parts of the spectrum present in natural sunlight that benefit human biology are absent in LED technology,” he elaborated adding that when clients approach him with such requests about human centric lighting, it becomes a duty to educate them that although it may look very cool to have a tunable white lighting solution, there is no evidential basis to suggest that it is actually beneficial to humans.

As discussed above, the booming hospitality industry in the country has opened avenues for the lighting companies and designers. What is left to see is how new trends will unfold and how far will stakeholders go to blend lighting seamlessly with the building infrastructure and façade. The promising atmosphere created due to the innumerable possibilities of choosing from 16 million colours has given a huge canvas for designers to experiment on. The brilliant use of such diverse colours can already be seen in a lot of buildings but a lot more can be explored in this space.

Apart from colours, the number of innovations in the field of IoT lighting also offers several opportunities for lighting designers, who can work on giving an enhanced user experience to guests and visitors in a hotel or a restaurant.

Sehrawat opines, “Lighting for hospitality will focus on these areas – personalised control, wellness and human centric light. Having control over our environment and conversely having our surroundings adapt to our preferences – both are ways of personalising spaces. On the other hand, for the traveller, a good night’s sleep is arguably the best feature a hotel can offer. The role lighting plays in how the guests fall asleep, how well they sleep and how refreshed they wake up, is much ignored, and the WELL Building standard recognises this extremely well.”

Surve points out some interesting innovations that could be seen in hospitality sector in near future. “Incorporation of pixel-based screen will be a new trend for facades and lobbies. The interactive tables and floors are going to change the whole look and feel of these places including the lobby and the receptions. Artificial Intelligence can be one of the future trends and will be used extensively in order to provide flawless experience to guests. For example, a guest can preset their room as per their preference or by voice command once they enter to set the required ambience.” He also says that future trend will be of centralised power auditing & maintenance, and artificial intelligence is expected to be a major component in service automation,” he says.

The future of lighting is connected and it is not just about illumination but also about data. Technologies such as LiFi and indoor positioning based on visible light communication are going to change the face of lighting in the coming times. The focus will be on handing over the lighting controls to the guests and this will be instrumental in gaining customer loyalty. The more a hotel can offer, the better!