Insights With Legs
Leading banquet table suppliers talk hotel table trends.
Hotel F&B: What are some of the “big picture” and “small detail” trends in tables today?
Bandelin: We find that the big picture is in durability and ease of use. The small detail trend is to be seen in new materials coming online with eco-friendliness and sustainability, in decorative surface materials, with an emphasis on linenless tables.
Kulish: In terms of big picture, we are seeing a continued trend of offering tables without linens. In certain instances, folding tables are becoming more a part of the design of the room and not just a utilitarian item that gets covered up. As for dining tables, it seems like thin tables are more in demand. A small detail trend that we’re seeing is the continued evolution of laminates. Advancements in technology have allowed laminate manufacturers to accomplish some really cool things with laminate design.
Nelson: Versatile and lightweight tables continue to be very important to our customers; the more we are able to help reduce inventory by developing multi-functional and lightweight tables, the better. Also, attractive table legs are a must. A linenless table is not appealing if the legs do not compliment the table design.
Persson: The biggest change is that the vast majority of hotels being built today are the extended-stay and the high-end boutique hotels. These hotels prefer the linenless look. The large, full-service hotels and casinos still prefer top-quality plywood and Mayfoam Banquet Tables, like the Maywood Original Series, as they need tables that are durable and can take the abuse.
Sage: The big picture trend is a move toward linenless tables for meetings and corporate events. While formal dining events still tend to require linens in the minds of most event designers, most of the less formal, business-focused meetings and events are moving quickly away from linens because of the substantial cost savings, environmental benefits, and most recently because this facilitates a more contemporary appearance. More minor trends include a move toward warmer tones, more natural materials, and a “residential” feel.
In what areas of a hotel do you forecast the most growth for tables, and why?
Bandelin: Outdoors, poolside, and rooftop lounges are all big areas of growth in the industry, but we are also experiencing a shift in our business into meeting and dining tables.
Kulish: The demand for meeting and event tables continues to grow. After a few years of stagnation, we are beginning to see an increased demand for folding tables at large convention, hotel, and event facilities.
Nelson: The meeting and event spaces of a hotel will always command the most voluminous portion of a hotel’s table inventory. Going back to versatility, there is much room for growth for tables that provide functionality in multiple spaces within the hotel.
Persson: Millennials like cool-looking lobbies, outdoor patios, and rooftop lounges, and they always want to be connected.
Sage: We anticipate a continuation of the ongoing trend toward increased “gatherings,” from spontaneous collaborations to small group events to sponsored receptions, large and small. To service these often unplanned gatherings, the hospitality industry will want equally spontaneous, yet comfortable and functional table and seating solutions. For this reason, we anticipate continued growth in small round or square tables that can be set up to serve a variety of settings. These will be quick to set up and easy to store until required for the next spontaneous gathering.
How is technology being integrated into tables today, and what is driving that integration?
Bandelin: Of course, in the meeting tables there is a demand for digital connections and power for charging the meeting participant’s digital hardware.
Kulish: The digital age as well as the rise of millennials in the workplace are definitely driving the demand for tables with integrated technology, such as USB and power outlets.
Nelson: Hotel guests and event attendees expect to be able to plug in anywhere in the hotel. This includes meeting and event tables. Southern Aluminum provides the option to have power outlets and USB charging ports to be built into pretty much any table we make.
Persson: The growing trend is for the tables and furniture to have USB ports and outlets.
Sage: The struggle with tables mirrors the struggle of technology today in general; how do we keep all these devices supplied with power enough to keep running? Power is the one big concern of the users. This is a particular struggle for older properties that accommodate large events. Many five-star properties are still running extension cords on the floor and covering them with gaffer’s tape in stark contrast to the sophisticated atmosphere of their interiors. The answer in many cases lies in “daisy-chaining” tables together so that each table in a row supplies the next with power. These daisy chain systems deliver power where the user needs it, in the tabletop, without unsightly extension cords.
What areas of a hotel require the most durability in a table, and how are you addressing those durability concerns?
Bandlelin: We build our banquet tables to withstand the rigors of the industry. Look, the crews setting up and moving tables from one meeting to the next have to move quickly. We weld everything as if we are building a tank; we rivet end caps into leg ends, and we put bumpers and corner guards everywhere. You have to do it.
Kulish: Banquet and meeting room folding tables definitely take a beating.Hotels need a durable table that can withstand constant room set-ups and tear-downs. That’s why MTS Continuity Collection Folding Tables meet and exceed BIFMA testing standards for folding tables. When you hear a competitor claim their table can “hold 1,000 pounds,” well, that really isn’t a real-world test. We talk to customers about this and let them know that our tables pass industry testing.
Nelson: Meeting room, buffet, and banquet tables must be able to withstand the daily activity of striking, tearing down, and storing. Southern Aluminum understands this and keeps this as the number one design feature when designing new tables and continually improving existing table design.
Persson: The large banquet areas require the most durable tables, as they are taken up and down frequently. Our Original Series has a 10-year warranty and is ideal for this application.
Sage: Tables get damaged during movement and transport more than any other time. The solution is twofold: more impact-resistant table edges and better transport systems. Technological advances in composite materials have made great leaps in recent years. PS Furniture’s MAXX Edge poured polyurethane seamless edge uses the latest composite technology to absorb impact, protect the table surface, and literally seal out liquid or particulate gunk. Just as importantly, the transport/storage carts we have introduced in the last five years allow tables to be moved virtually effortlessly while protecting the table tops from ever touching the floor.
What is your customer percentage split between those asking for linenless tables, and tables that require skirting/linens? Which areas of a hotel are best suited for each type?
Bandelin: We are 100% linen-free. Our tables are meant to be seen, to be a part of the presentation or a part of the meeting or dining experience.
Kulish: Our split is probably 70/30 linen versus linenless. Large banquet rooms that are set up for dinners and receptions generally use tables that are covered with linens. Smaller meeting rooms and pre-function areas tend to utilize our linenless style tables.
Nelson: In the hospitality industry, there continues to be a massive trend towards linenless table solutions. From large convention hotels to small boutique hotels, almost 100% of our customers would like to be linenless.
Persson: It is 50% each between linenless and tables that require skirting. Meeting rooms are usually linenless. The very large banquet areas usually have tables that require skirting. For tables that do need skirting, the options on colors and patterns has greatly expanded.
Sage: An even 50% of our requests today are for linenless tables. Many of the highest-end properties continue to insist that linens will always be demanded by their clientele. But even where properties are embracing linenless tables for meetings and events, most are still planning to use linens to cover their large, round banquet tables. Formal dining events continue to require linens in the minds of most planners and end-users. On the other hand, many properties are embracing the linenless trend for their corporate and less formal events and are planning to switch much of their meeting and banquet table inventory over in the near future.
What do you think will be the next exciting innovation for tables in hotels?
Bandelin: I can’t predict the future, but if we find a way to cut down the weight of our products, we will switch to it as quickly as possible. I don’t know if it will be a new metal technology or a new panel process for tabletops, but we’re looking.
Persson: The linenless look will keep evolving and will try to make greater inroads in the large banquet areas. Maywood is working on one innovation right now.
Sage: “Exciting innovation” and tables do not normally go together, but we do think the trend to linenless opens up some interesting design horizons for table surfaces. Unmasked, a table’s surface becomes part of a room’s design aesthetic. So look for innovation in this facet of tables, and in this highly visible context, horribly dull surfaces will be less and less acceptable.