99 Problems… (but a pitch ain’t one)

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Ok, so here’s the scenario:

  1. You and your team have been invited to pitch for the most exciting design project of your career to date
  2. You’ve digested the brief
  3. You’ve had the brainstorm
  4. You’re ready to present your ideas

You’ve got your foot through the door and as you inch further into the boardroom to breathe life into your amazing vision, what do you need to do to convince your prospective client that you’re the best choice for them?

We asked five hotel operators how designers

and architects can ‘wow’ them during a pitch and what advice they have when it comes to winning the biz.

‘You can ‘wow’ me with a pitch simply by giving the impression that you understand the brand even better than we do. We’re just renovating our rooms now and we had a couple of companies come in to pitch for the business; one stood out from the rest, because of the way they presented their ideas. They created a story around our hotel, taking in the elements that our brand stands for. That said, it takes two. Operators have to provide a thorough brief. The better the brief, the better designers can pitch for the work.

‘In order to impress, how you come across is particularly important; we want to see your knowledge come through in your portfolio. Tell us what you’ve worked on but demonstrate how flexible you are to work with too. You should have a real connection with your architects and your designer; the pitch offers the chance to demonstrate you’ll be a good fit. The pitch is one thing – but when it comes to delivering results, you have to be able to translate your pitch into a workable design.’ – Otto Steenbeek, General Manager, The Andaz, Liverpool Street

‘I think that if I were to be ‘wowed’ during a pitch, it would be an obvious meeting of minds – a connection – and I would like to know that we were all on the same page, without too much effort to get to that point. I would like designers or architects to have better ideas than me and I would like to be able to instantly trust their judgement. You don’t want empty promises about sticking to budgets and you don’t want someone who gets carried away and goes completely off brief.’ Tabitha Amador-Christie, General Manager, Paschoe House, Devon

‘The ‘wow’ factor should be at the heart of any pitch. It’s what you remember and what influences a positive client response. Creating this is not easy and may not always reflect a design response to a brief. It could be the style and content of presentation, for example. One well-known architect used to take a paint box and easel to a pitch, where he would then create a painting he felt captured the design spirit needed!

‘Research is also fundamental and designers must try and uncover what is not in the brief. What’s been missed may be as important as what’s included. If research uncovers something that deserves a response, this can show diligence and creativity, also leaving a lasting impression.’ – Martin Winch, Owner, Church Lodge, Birdham

‘During a pitch, a designer or architect must demonstrate an excellent understanding of our brief and deliver it in such a way that encompasses the whole process, from concept through to completion. Operationally, projects usually have a small ‘window of opportunity’, therefore we must have confidence they are able to meet our deadlines and complete both design and site work to schedule.

‘The ability to communicate clearly and concisely is really important. Designers need to be able to work with the team throughout the project to ensure everything goes to plan and is completed on time. Finally, it’s always good to bear in mind that we are the ones that are going to work with their designs, and for the guests to be kept happy too!’ – Adam Dyke, General Manager, The Duchess of Devonshire

‘I have two pieces of advice. The first is to really nail space utilisation and create that ‘wow’ feeling when you walk in. This is as much as the best use of space as it is about the quality of the design. The second is to understand our brand approach, we are all about creating a  boutique, 4* standard but this can’t be achieved in a ‘ colour by number’ way. The design needs to reflect the consistent elements of our brand, as well as the vibe of city location where the product is based. A good designer will have an eye on the consumer and how they will be drawn to something which captures the essence and character of neighbourhood where the building is located.’ – Guy Nixon, Founder and CEO, Go Native