Key Features of ‘Design Hotels’ Success
The 2017 Skift Forum Europe recently took place in London, and one of the key events was a discussion between Design Hotels CEO Claus Sendlinger and SkiftX Editor Greg Oates. Oates started off the discussion by referencing how boutique hotels were one of the first in the industry to pioneer the idea of the hotel “experience”, and how Sendlinger and his concept of “design” hotels continued this experiential concept of accommodation. The soccer player-turned-hotelier found his way into the hospitality industry by first running soccer tours, and then organizing raves, where he noticed a market for creating a community by getting like-minded people together.
Sendlinger said that the reason Design Hotels only has 300 hotels in their portfolio as opposed to 4000 is because of a desire to protect the integrity of a brand in an age where marketing has rendered meaningless the idea of buzzwords such as “boutique” or “lifestyle” in the hotel industry. Design Hotels works closely with the operators of the hotels in their portfolio, and the design is only half of the concept, which is also based around a local guest experience that defines the destination. Storytelling around the hotels became an important feature of the Design Hotels offering, integrating hotel owners into the story, reaffirming the local identity of their properties.
Owned by Marriott but run independently, Design Hotels aims to respond to market changes within the hotel industry. Sendlinger said that hotel design has been a trend for 20 years now and is still fresh, but that hotels need to be thinking about changes in demographics and how people are using hotels, and a focus needs to be put on curation. Direct contact with the community needs to happen to attract guests seeking authentic local experiences and, in particular, to match the right kinds of guests to their desired hotel, and to provide a place where community and technology meet.