TALK: Tell your hotel’s story and bring it to life

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To create your boutique hotel’s unique identity, InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) VP of brand management for upscale and luxury brands in Europe, Tom Rowntree, says to look no further than its location.

The group operates its boutique brand Hotel Indigo throughout the UK and the key to making each property niche is its neighbourhood.

“This is the biggest focus we’ve got. It’s about authentically delivering individuality so I don’t want two Hotel Indigos to be the same, but we do want to deliver the reassurance and consistency of the experience,” he says.

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The “absolute foundation” for each Hotel Indigo property is the local neighbourhood.

Formulating the plot
“Basically we look at the 15-minute walk from the front door of the hotel, what’s in that location? When we’re looking at new locations for a Hotel Indigo — we’re shortly going to be opening in St. Petersburg and we have recently launched in Tel Aviv —we’re very prescriptive of those local destinations.

“We look for a culture fit and we have a set of criteria I work through with the development team,” he says.

Ask yourself, what is the local craft within that particular neighbourhood? Is there a balance between residential and commercial real estate? It’s got to be a “real, living neighbourhood”.

And don’t forget to consider: “What role can the hotel play in that particular neighbourhood and then how can we connect our guests to a real area that they would want to experience?”

The hotel does not necessarily have to be on a tourist trail, in fact, a more obscure location can work in its favour.

“We then develop a neighbourhood story and we bring in an independent consultant to help us write those. So it isn’t just a design director, it really is a story that brings a hotel to life and embodies how the hotel will behave in the local community,” continues Rowntree.

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Telling the tale
The neighbourhood story will define the design of the hotel and the staff will tell the story, and bring it to life.

“We’re looking for talented, passionate hoteliers that play a role in their community; individuals who are passionate about where they live and can connect the guest to it in a genuine, authentic manner,” continues Rowntree.

The story of the hotel should also be told through its F&B offering: “The restaurant and the bar are critically important within Hotel Indigo — we’re not just a service for guests staying in the hotel but also for the local community,” explains Rowntree.

So the objective of the Hotel Indigo team, like that of most boutique hoteliers, is to offer a unique experience. By drawing on tales of your hotel’s location — its traditions , culture and its people — you can create a bestseller.

ABOUT: Tom Rowntree is vice president for brand management for upscale and luxury brands in Europe with InterContinental Hotels Group.

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