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Acoustic comfort in hotels

This October marks an important event in the building and construction sector for hotels in and around Africa. The Africa Hotel Investment Forum will see leaders in the global and local hospitality industry come together over a number of days to connect and drive investment for different tourism projects, infrastructure and hotel developments across Africa.


Saint-Gobain Gyproc and Isover SSA’s business development manager, Marloes Meer, explains why this is such an important event within the hospitality industry. “This is a space where hotel investors and key customers come together to discuss the different challenges, trends and innovations within the hospitality industry.”

The tourism industry, according to Meer, is one of the fastest growing and vibrant sectors in Africa and is a key growth attributer to several economies. Africa is fast becoming a desired destination for many international travellers which has meant that the increase in visitor numbers has put pressure on the sector, resulting in a clear need to expand and grow the number of hotels on the continent. With this comes the opportunity to create exceptional buildings that meet and surpass global standards, especially in the areas of acoustic comfort, fire safety and durability.  Contractors are challenged to build faster and more efficiently within tighter cost budgets while maintaining crucial safety standards, which is why there has been a move towards more “non-traditional” building methods. 

Saint-Gobain Business Development

A large reason for looking at “non-traditional” building methods relates to improved guest comfort especially in terms of acoustic comfort. Hotels are inherently noisy environments, with guests and staff constantly moving through the corridors, gym and restaurant areas. Constant noise in and around the hotel has an effect on the environment and guests at large, so much so that noise is the most frequent guest complaint, preceding hygiene, quality of service or bedding grumbles.

The acoustic quality of a hotel is influenced by the following parameters:

  • Insulation between rooms to reduce the disturbance caused by neighbouring conversations, televisions etc.
  • Insulation from technical equipment such as lifts or HVAC systems
  • Insulation from external noise like road or air transport
  • The absorption of excessive noise within spaces

These parameters are necessary to consider when designing a building solution for a hotel. Owners and developers and managers need to take into consideration that a good night’s sleep is crucial to a guest’s wellbeing. Outside of their own homes, guests sleep less well and can be disturbed or woken up by even the slightest sounds in a hotel. This has a negative effect on guests who may become irritable or battle to concentrate due to the lack of sleep which will interfere with their daily activities.

What’s more, due to the fact that hotels are multi-functional, providing spaces for offices, conferences, spas, restaurants and nightclubs, it is vital that the hotel can manage different acoustic challenges. The building solutions chosen must ensure that the noise from equipment is contained and that the reverberation in the conference rooms are controlled so that people are able to hear and talk clearly and without trouble.

Acoustic Comfort In Hotel Rooms

Guest experience is a key factor in terms of return on investment within the hotel sector, so much so that revenue and occupancy rates are negatively impacted if guests have placed a negative review on sites such as TripAdvisor. A study conducted by Cornwell University found that if a TripAdvisor reputation score increased by 1% then the hotels’ occupancy rate would increase by 0.5%, the average daily rate goes up by 0.89%, and the revenue per available room will increase by 1.42%.

Not only does this showcase the relationship between guest experiences and the hotel’s return on investment but it also opens up a wider discussion around new building techniques that are able to ensure acoustic comfort within this sector.

Hospitality Project Inspiration

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