Meindert Jan Tjoeng, Pieter Van Tilburg, Lucie Perin, Emmanuel Petit and Brice Marguet offered a practical look at new concepts in commercial accommodations by presenting experiments and product relaunches on European and international markets, during the last edition of the Global Lodging Forum.
The creation of the CitizenM concept started with the identification of a need expressed by urban and nomadic clientele. We know that our guests do not stay long at our hotels and that is why we created small rooms with all the necessary comforts, leaving more room for big, busy lobbies that meet their needs for social interaction and fun.
Our concept is intended to be developed through modular constructions that allow the creation of a property over six to nine months, but only 5 of our 19 properties opened thanks to this procedure. It is not possible to use modular construction systematically for all our locations, and this is why we do not limit ourselves to this kind of development. We are also a hotel investor take over existing properties to install our brand.
Brice Marguet, Development Director IHG France
Holiday Inn Express is a brand positioned on the limited-services segment. We thus offer guests what they want and don't sell them what they don't want. This type of room is marketed online; it is the kind of product customers wish to reserve directly. We differentiate ourselves from the budget hotels by offering more, with a goal to attracting families and business travelers.
We are developing only through franchise. We have done a great deal of work with our team of architects in order to optimize development costs. Engineers have thus tried to reduce the surface area of rooms by working on their fitments so that they seem bigger than they really are. The new rooms thus need 1.5 square meters less than the previous rooms. By 2018, we will renew 80% of our European supply with new hotels or the conversion of existing properties.
Lucie Perin, Franchise Sales Manager St Christopher's Inns Hostels
St Christopher's Inn is first and foremost a brand of pubs and bars in London. The idea of creating youth hostels came later when we decided we wanted to offer accommodations to our guests. Launched 20 years ago, the concept developed throughout Europe and became a business on its own. We now have a network of 20 youth hostels, which represent 50% of our turnover.
The profile of travelers staying at our hostels typically corresponds to young Australians on a European Tour before starting their professional life. Thus these guests are not expected to return, so we do not try to develop their loyalty.
We are trying to pursue our growth in Europe and we will partner with a real estate firm to do that, so we may concentrate on operations. We have bough properties in the past, but we sold them because that is not our business.
Emmanuel Petit, President Eklo Hotels
Eklo is a low-cost hotel concept, with an excellent value for price and tailored offers. The base price is 24 euros, but we offer many paid options, such as bath towels and television, which allow us to increase our daily rates. To optimize our costs and thus prices, we also use modular construction methods. This enables us to develop a hotel in just six months with reduced investments. Our approach has also been designed to be coherent with environmental challenges.
After Le Mans and Le Havre we are planning other openings in France, in the cities of Lille, Montpellier, Bordeaux and Dijon. Looking further ahead at the next five years, we wish to expand our network to some 30 to 40 properties in France and plan international development. We own and operate our hotels, but this is not a set principle, we are open to other players participating in our investments.
Pieter Van Tilburg, Founder and CEO CityHub
On the market we have noticed a deficiency in offers adapted to young travelers who are looking for the best way to visit a city. We thus developed a concept for accommodations positioned between hotel and hostel, available at a good price, together with a guide to the destination. Our mobile app lets our guests contact the ambassadors of the city they are visiting. They can thus meet people who know the destination to hear their advice and talk to them. An essential characteristic of our concept is to make it easier to meet locals.
Currently present in Amsterdam, we are trying to develop in major European cities such as London, Paris and Barcelona. We would also like to enter the American and Asian market places. For the time being we want to develop our business ourselves and are not trying to sell our concept.
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