First ever study finds relationship between feng shui and hotel success

27 Sep, 2017
Is there a relationship between feng shui and hotel success?

A study, the first of its kind, has proved the right kind of desk, or how a reception area looks and smells, can have an impact on hotel success. 

This exploratory study was completed by Dr Jill Poulston and Rene Bennett from the School of Hospitality and Tourism at AUT University, and looked at the feng shui in eight accommodation properties, from hotels to backpackers, across Auckland. 

“In six out of the eight properties studied a close relationship was found, and the two properties with the poorest feng shui ratings also had the weakest feelings of success ratings.”

Dr Poulston says although feng shui can be considered a superstitious and unscientific way of trying to determine success, some hospitality businesses follow the principles perhaps to improve ambience, profit, luck or to attract Asian customers.

Although not all feng shui necessarily makes immediate sense, she says it can be argued that the placement of specific items in a house or office, or in this case hotel, creates psychological effects on an inhabitant’s or staff members subconscious mind.

The study

Participants were advised that the study being carried out was about hotel design but would include questions on fang shui says Dr Poulston.

Each property manager was interviewed and afterwards feng shui of the foyer and entrance were evaluated and photographs were taken to assist with further off-site analysis.

Performance indicators favoured by industry such as staff turnover, occupancy and profit were therefore used subjectively she says.


Properties ranged from a large internationally branded five star hotel to two locally branded backpackers’ lodges. Participants were surprisingly knowledgeable about feng shui but none had implemented feng shui remedies to attract good luck says Dr Poulston.

However participants did discuss the benefits they associated with feng shui. Results then, showed strong relationships between feng shui evaluations and each managers’ descriptions of success.

“It is important to note this relationship, which offers designers and managers guidelines for improving the visual impact of their properties,” says Dr Poulston.

She says there was clear evidence of good feng shui associated with feelings of success too.

“This seems to tell us that good feng shui can promote positive thinking. It also seems likely that pleasant surroundings may encourage a positive state of mind, resulting in a more positive reflection on progress and achievement.”

Dr Poulston says hotels with the best feng shui were high quality internationally branded hotels and the properties described as doing the best, also looked the best.

What is next?

Dr Poulston says after the success of this initial study she is already looking at further work, but this time she would like 20 hotels taking part and would use a 50 point system for evaluating feng shui.

In the meantime, any hotel managers wanting an evaluation of the feng shui of their property are welcome to contact Dr Poulston, as she is keen to test her 50 point evaluation.

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