An interview with Ted Carroll on the similarities between hospitality procurement and senior living interiors purchasing

February 09, 2018

How is senior living interiors purchasing like hospitality purchasing?

Many of our vendors produce for both hospitality and senior living, so there are similarities, especially in process. For example, the formality of timelines, purchase orders, and warehousing logistics are very similar. Public areas are another area of common ground. And as senior living properties continue to evolve, we see more amenities in a hotel – bar, restaurant, and recreation areas.

How is senior living interiors purchasing different or unique?

It is important to remember that when we work with senior living, we are creating an environment for a permanent residence, not a temporary stay. This requires phased renovation which requires more time and more patience. This is someone’s home, so we expect a different degree of skill and consideration from our installation team. It is important that they, as well as our entire team, understands the difficulties of implementing changes with the elderly.

What are the differences with furniture or furniture design?

Furniture design trends are typically driven by the residential market, then followed by the hospitality market and lastly senior housing. That makes senior living design especially tricky because it must be acceptable to the current population while being enticing to the next generation.

For our manufacturers, there are practical considerations like making sure furniture design meets certain overall dimension requirements, i.e., seat, arm heights, and depths. Additionally, this furniture is expected to have a higher usage rate which requires an entirely different level of durability in product design. Dining chairs often receive the most usage and must be designed with reinforced, well-designed arms to allow the elderly the necessary mobility required to get in and out of the chairs.

How do these differences or similarities influence furniture design and/or purchasing?

In hospitality, furniture design is more complex, involving mixed materials which require more creativity and custom designs. That often leads us to a global sourcing solution.

With senior housing, however, it’s a more North American vendor market. They have short lead times, are more likely to do smaller scope or phased renovations.

What trends do we see out on the horizon? What should we be thinking about for the future?

With the number of Americans over 80 expected to double, from 6 million to 12 million, in the next two decades; and by 2035, one out of three U.S. households will be headed by someone over 65 (that’s a population of 79 million); the coming upswing in the older American population will demand a range of housing options.*

At the same time, baby boomers expect a higher quality of living, technology and innovation and unique experiences. And they have grown up watching HDTV and renovation programming, so they have a more sophisticated design taste and interest in amenities.

Senior living owners are responding with more boutique amenities, multiple dining spaces, larger multipurpose spaces, common areas for multigenerational activities, hosting social and cultural events and additional revenues for dining, pool, and spas. Some are even offering access to personal trainers, wellness coaches, and college courses.

Hotels have long understood that design is part of the overall experience which is why they renovate regularly. It is how they stay competitive. Senior living properties are starting to do the same. Property owners are understanding the value of hospitality design and FF&E purchasing, or senior living interiors purchasing, to help manage costs and maximize their return on investment.

*According to Joint Center for Housing Studies statistics

PHOTO CREDIT: All Seasons Naples