How Personality Can Shape a Hotel

By Drummond, Gillian | Marketing, May 11, 2000 | Go to article overview

How Personality Can Shape a Hotel


Drummond, Gillian, Marketing


Gillian Drummond reports from San Francisco on an entrepreneur building an empire of hotels which take their creative lead from the brand profiles of lifestyle magazines

When hotelier Chip Conley is looking for a new business idea, he goes shopping -- for magazines. The 39-year-old is making a name for himself in the US hospitality industry with a string of trendy boutique hotels in San Francisco, each inspired by a title on the newsstand.

There's the Phoenix, based on Rolling Stone magazine, with its young, music-minded staff, late night parties and a clientele of mostly rock bands. There's the New Yorker-inspired Hotel Rex, with its book-lined lobby and poetry readings. And there's the Nob Hill Lambourne, which lays on free vitamins and yoga videos for guests, serves algae shakes for breakfast, and models itself on Men's Health.

Lately, Conley and his team at Joie de Vivre Hospitality have had their heads buried in the pages of Wired, the inspiration for two new hotels in Silicon Valley, due to open this summer. To attract the region's techie clientele, there will be executive toys in every room, midnight snacks for late-night workers, relaxation lounges and laptop connections by the pool.

Once they have found a property on which to build their hotel, Conley and his staff come up with a set of words to define their hotel and its projected clientele. Conley believes the days of defining customers by demographics are over. Instead, he talks about 'psychographics'.

"Magazines are a window into the soul of our customers," he says. "Demographics is about what's happening on the outside. Psychographics is what's happening inside -- your values, your beliefs. People want to be spoken to on an emotional level. At Phoenix, the demographics are of a 28-year-old tattooed musician from LA. But the psychographics are related to the five words which define the Phoenix: adventurous, irreverent, funky, cool and fun."

Memorable experiences

Customers could be 70, he says, but if they fit the psychographics, they'll like the hotel. Conley believes consumers are driven more by memorable experiences than material things.

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