A Curious Group of Hotels, a boutique hotel portfolio that includes the Portobello Hotel in London and Cowley Manor, has brought in almost £1m worth of direct business since the launch of its new loyalty scheme.
Speaking to Boutique Hotelier, group director Andy Boardman explained how this year the aim for the four-strong group, which is owned by Peter and Jessica Frankopan, has been to steer guests away from the OTAs and gain more exposure for the brand that also includes Canal House in Amsterdam and L’Otel in Paris.
The Get Curious loyalty scheme was devised to drive more bookings direct and so far has been an incredible success with its ‘pretty simple formula’.
Boardman explains: “This year, we launched Get Curious loyalty scheme because one of the hardest things for us is the OTAs. Commissions are so so high, which stops real big investment into what you want to do. It’s big money so it slows the whole process of reinvestment down. So ‘Get Curious’ will help drive more direct bookings and that means we can reinvest more in the properties and the team and it allows us to expand quicker.”
Peter, a Croatian Prince, and Jessica Frankopan, the great-great-granddaughter of Sainsbury’s founder John James Sainsbury, first transitioned into the world of hotels when they opened Cowley Manor in 2002.
Boardman joined the company in 2009 as general manager at Cowley Manor and now has been tasked with ensuring the name, A Curious Group of Hotels, is one people recognise.
“Before we never used the word Curious – both internally and externally – we never embraced it enough. So we’ve started using the name more and more, and last year we started working with Journey. We’ve just redone our website, we are relearning social media, which has been a really big thing.”
After Cowley Manor’s success, Peter and Jessica acquired their first property in Paris in 2005 and a third property in Amsterdam swiftly followed.
They acquired Portobello Hotel in London in 2014 from Tim and Cathy Herring, who opened the hotel in 1971.
Boardman was appointed group director last year and given a clear strategy to ensure consistency across the collection.
Expansion is also very much on the agenda.
“We’d like another UK property, no bigger than 30 rooms,” he says.
“We’d love a couple more in the UK without a shadow of a doubt, I keep looking in Brighton. It’s a really strong city. Oxford – Peter and Jess are based in Oxford, Maybe Edinburgh, Cambridge, those sorts of places and they would suit the Curious brand. And we’d definitely love Europe, we’d love another one in Paris. It’s just finding them. We’re not out there looking every day, but it’s also looking at the same time if you know what I mean. Something will come up.”