Lessons from one of the world's largest lifestyle hotel operators

In the days ahead, we’re going to look at how one of the world’s largest operators of lifestyle brands - Ennismore - thinks about brand experience, recruiting, and leadership. I’m writing this from their Hoxton Williamsburg property - a brand that inspires me - and think you’ll enjoy this.

For Philippe Zrihen, head of Ennismore, Americas, a good lifestyle boutique brand makes you feel cool and like you’re in the middle of something. "It doesn't matter if you're 84 or you're 24, you just feel a certain vibe."

Operating brands like these requires staying in tune with what guests are looking for, he shared on a recent episode of the No Vacancy Show with Glenn Haussman. 

F&B: core to the brand experience

F&B was always part of the hospitality experience, and that’s only increased, according to Zrihen. But now it’s less about celebrity chefs and more about the overall experience you feel when you step into the spot. 

“Obviously, I want great food, but I’m also thinking, what's the entertainment? What am I seeing around me? How is the music? How is the lighting? People want a certain type of atmosphere.”

Zrihen always found it strange when hotels were publicizing their so-called celebrity chef, and had to describe why the chef was a celebrity.

But beyond the dubious nature of some celebrity chefs, there’s a bigger trend at play. "I don't think you need the reliance on a brand name in order to be successful because people are getting more and more adventurous. They're asking themselves where they can discover the next great meal and worry less about having a cookie-cutter experience from one chef over and over again.”

For Ennismore’s brands, integrated F&B offerings are core to the overall experience. "We're not big fans of outsourcing that experience to a third party because we think it's an integral part of the overall vibe of the hotel.”

It starts with working with high-end chefs who can deliver a quality meal, make it approachable and varied. “Nobody wants to stay at a hotel for 5-6 days and find it only has one unique meal that they can only have once during their stay. I need enough options so I can experiment and try new things and be a little adventuresome.”

Finally, the F&B offerings need to appeal to more than just guests. “As a hotel guest, you don't want to be surrounded only by people who are staying in the hotel. You want to feel like you are part of a hub that is central to the city you're in. Marketing, social media, and having the proper activations all help attract a broader clientele.”

Integrating F&B into the overall experience

The 21c Museum Hotel brand does a great job of combining F&B with other experiential elements. Guests enjoy grabbing a pre-dinner drink and walking around the museum before sitting down for dinner. 

"That fully integrated experience is exactly what we strive for. Your experience is being curated on so many different levels."