European lifestyle hotels emphasize community building

European lifestyle hotels emphasize community building

VIENNA — European hoteliers are emphasizing building communities to boost the lifestyle segment.

Lifestyle in Europe is a broad segment in a diverse region of almost 50 national markets, with a largely fragmented hotel portfolio and a transport infrastructure that allows even short breaks in a great wealth of languages, food and drink and culture.

Thomas Emanuel, director at hotel analytics division CoStar STR, said Europe has 66 hotel brands classified as lifestyle.

“That’s 956 hotels and 130,000 keys. It’s a pretty eclectic mix,” he said during a panel on the segment at the Hotel Investment Conference, Central and Eastern Europe, better known as HOTCO.

The two largest brands by number of hotels are Marriott International’s Moxy and Autograph Collection brands, and six of the top 10 are owned by international hotel brand companies.

Jonathan Lee Jones, senior vice-president of investments for Europe at owner Lifestyle Hospitality Capital, said the European lifestyle sector would have suffered greatly long ago if not for hoteliers’ efforts to build relationships with local partners and people. .

“Lifestyle is a product designed with multiple revenue streams, but with spaces that connect communities and create a halo effect for everything else,” he said.

Gabriela Basovska, a consultant at business consultancy PKF, said that since the establishment of the W Hotels brand in 1998, lifestyle hotels have made the party that keeps hotel guests from going to bed the same as “when you got home , I thought, I want to get back to that.” Starting as Starwood Hotels & Resorts, W Hotels is now part of the Marriott brand.

This idea is multiplying in Europe, where the excitement coming from many countries with many cultural differences and stimuli is leading to increased innovation among hoteliers, said Adrian Schmidt, vice president of digital development and strategy at hotel owner and operator HR Group.

Hotels in general have functional, emotional and social benefits, but lifestyle hotels need to offer more than that, said Marcel Engh, founder and CEO of Drella and co-founder and head of marketing at Jazzed, two companies that bring entertainment initiatives in hotels.

“The big buzz now is community marketing. Ace, The Standard and Hoxton have communities, but Moxy doesn’t yet. It is only the community that can hold one [lifestyle] brand strong,” he said.

Benjamin Calleja, founder and head of experience at food and beverage design firm Livit Design, said the simple premise is that the offerings at a lifestyle hotel should be better than what’s next door.

Engh said hoteliers and non-hoteliers see opportunities to use hotels as a conduit for entertainment initiatives.

“The artists premiered [musical] material in hotels. Now you can broadcast it to a paying audience,” he said.

Calleja added that it is interesting to see non-hotel brands coming into the space, either as partners or creating their own hotel brands.

Success in the lifestyle hotel sector comes from hoteliers having a clear goal and strategy to achieve the required revenue per available room and then driving community-led experiences that hit every touchpoint in the hotel, said Eng.

“Consistency is key, and some brands I think miss that,” he said.

But it’s a mistake not to pay close attention to all the small, unexpected details that resonate most with guests, Calleja said.

“It used to be easier to tell who was a visitor and who was a local. Hotels that do well often have community managers, an important role that helps fill those hotels,” he said.

Community management provides data and, importantly, “a lot of non-hotel-specific data that can contribute to understanding the customer,” Schmidt said.

Many aspects of lifestyle still make sense for investors, particularly customer diversification and the potential for the hotel to have more to keep guests on-property, engaged and spending, Lee Jones said.

For Basovska, Hyatt Hotels Corporation’s Thompson Hotels brand is “the epitome of lifestyle, but I think it has less obvious ways to deliver it. It’s less regulatory.”

He said such a lifestyle approach has a huge role to play in Europe.

The U.K., Germany, Spain and France lead in the number of lifestyle hotels, based on HOTCO’s analysis, Emanuel said. He added that the department has legs.

“Before 2000, there were only six lifestyle brands in Europe. … Today, Accor has 11 and there are 7,000 Moxy rooms in the pipeline in Europe,” he said.

Read more news at Hotel News Now.

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