News for the Hospitality Executive
Lifestyle Hotels: Boutiques with Benefits; An Interview
with Janis Cannon, Hotel Indigo’s VP of
Global Brand Management
By Daniel Edward Craig, , October 14, 2010
Lifestyle hotels are the next generation of boutique hotels. Driven by the chains, they borrow the best elements of boutiques – small, intimate and modern – and throw in advantages only a chain can offer, like loyalty perks, consistency and economies of scale. As a result, lifestyle hotels are generally more affordable and accessible than boutiques – and soon to be ubiquitous.
Virtually every major hotel group is vying for a piece of the action. Marriott has Edition Hotels, Hyatt has Andaz, and Starwood has Element and Aloft. Meanwhile, Kimpton and Joie de Vivre have been rapidly expanding, proving that the term “boutique chain” doesn’t have to be an oxymoron. Most recently, lifestyle brands have been announced by B Hotels & Resorts and Virgin Hotels.
Given that lifestyle hotels by definition must evolve with the changing tastes of travelers, how does a large chain deliver on that promise? For some insight I checked in with Janis Cannon, Vice President of Global Brand Management for Hotel Indigo, “the world’s first global branded boutique”. Hotel Indigo is part of the InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG), the world’s largest hotel group by number of rooms. Here’s a condensed version of our Q+A session.
Dan: Tell us a bit about your background and current position. What kind of traveler are you?
Janis. Along with a team of regional and global brand management professionals, I am responsible for the global strategy, successful launch and long term sustainability of Hotel Indigo. Prior I worked as a General Manager for Swissotel and served as SVP Global Sales and Deputy Commissioner for Economic Development for the State of Georgia. Most recently, I worked as the AMER brand lead for InterContinental Hotels and Resorts.Dan: Tell us about the Hotel Indigo brand. How does a lifestyle hotel differ from a boutique hotel?
Janis: As the first global branded boutique, Hotel Indigo has experienced great success and rapid growth since its inception in 2004. Prior to the launch of Hotel Indigo, boutiques were small, independent hotels built around a concept of interesting design and intimate service. Hotel Indigo took the best of the independent boutique hotel principles, coupled it with consumer research, and sized the market to craft a brand that appealed to the emergence of a new consumer, the lifestyle consumer.Dan: How does Hotel Indigo differ from other lifestyle brands?
Janis: At the time of the brand’s conception and in large part today, the hotel landscape consists primarily of full service and limited service brands with little uniqueness or differentiation. The lifestyle consumer wants unique offerings that are exciting and interesting alternatives to the big meeting boxes or the prototypical builds that some lifestyle brands market as unique.Dan: Travelers like boutique hotels because they’re small and independent in spirit and offer personalized service. How does a massive chain like IHG provide this type of experience?
Janis: Through consumer research and insight, we know that the Hotel Indigo customer prefers to enter into a long term relationship with their brands. They value the relationship and security of the brand and are intent on building loyalty based on the brand’s authenticity and value proposition. Hotel Indigo offers guests a unique hotel experience with the modern design and intimate service associated with boutique hotels, along with the peace of mind and consistency from staying with the world’s largest hotel group.Dan: By definition, a lifestyle hotel caters to the changing tastes of travelers. How will Hotel Indigo keep up with trends given the challenges of rapid change in a hotel chain?
Janis: Renewal is at the soul of Hotel Indigo – whether it’s the seasonal menu items or local craft beers and wines in the restaurant or local events designed to connect with the community – Hotel Indigo will always deliver an engaging and vibrant experience for our guests.Dan: Marriott recruited Ian Schrager, inventor of the modern boutique hotel, to develop Edition Hotels. Who is teaching the big brass at IHG how to be hip and cool?
Janis: IHG has a rich history and legacy of successful brand management, being the owner of some of the globe’s most recognized hospitality brands. Our brand management expertise provides us the ability to continue to grow strong brands and create new ones, like Hotel Indigo.Dan: What lies ahead for the Hotel Indigo brand?
Janis: In the last year, the brand has signed franchise agreements to open 13 new hotels in key global markets around the world, including London, Madrid, Shanghai, Hong Kong and New York. With 36 hotels currently open and a very healthy pipeline of 57 hotels, we will continue to focus our distribution strategy on growing the brand in key capital and gateway cities around the world.
Daniel Edward Craig is a former general manager turned hotel consultant and the author of the Murder at the Universe. His articles and blog about issues in the hotel industry are considered essential reading for hoteliers, travelers and students alike. Visit www.danieledwardcraig.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: dcraig.
Copyright © 2010 Daniel Edward Craig
Daniel Edward Craig
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