Why Experience Matters In Hospitality And Retail
Creating a memorable experience is the key to succeeding in both the hotel and the restaurant businesses.
Whether designing a hotel lobby that welcomes the community or drawing people into a marketplace, the experience is what counts, according to speakers at Bisnow’s Denver Retail & Hospitality 2018.
Red Lion Hotels Corp. Chief Brand Officer Yvonne Choi said her company has rolled out what it calls The Living Stage at its Hotel RL properties. The concept, which is designed not only to engage guests but also to draw in the community, showcases local people who have a passion for what they do. There are public speakers, musical performances and hands-on demonstrations.
“We have a programming team that proactively sources and books real acts and performers who have something to say,” Choi said, noting that topics range from unemployment to women in technology. “It’s similar to TED Talks.”
The Living Stage performances and discussions are filmed and streamed into the hotel's guest rooms, as well as on YouTube.
Palisade Partners President Paul Books, who is redeveloping the historic Rossonian Hotel in Five Points, said his version of creating an experience is the jazz club in the building’s basement. He is working with brand manager Silas White, who has produced a number of jazz records, on programming for the club, to be called Chauncey’s after retired Denver Nugget Chauncey Billups, who has invested in the project near where he grew up. White is Billups’ brand manager.
“You really need to provide a unique experience,” Books said. “That’s what we’re trying to do at the Rossonian. It’s jazz history. Chauncey Billups is nationally recognized — he’s still on ESPN. Having that kind of person who will be there is a unique experience. The Rossonian is probably the most significant building for African-Americans in the state of Colorado.”
“It’s eatertainment,” Thompson said. “We’re not just inventing market share out of nowhere. Every customer we get is likely coming from the casual dining space.”
Oskar Blues Fooderies chef/partner and Restaurant Director Jason Rogers said his Lower Downtown establishment differentiates itself through the live music venue it created in the basement, while there is a separate restaurant on the building’s main level.
“It’s not just one genre of music, and we’ve found ourselves doing comedy a couple of nights a week,” he said.
Stanley Marketplace founder and Chief Visionary Officer Mark Shaker said he strives to generate foot traffic throughout the building for his tenants. If one section of the building, which has four entrances, isn’t getting as many people as the others, Shaker’s team will program it with some sort of entertainment.
“We find ways to activate spaces to draw people throughout and create exploration,” Shaker said. “We’re focused on more of an authentic community experience that is not technology-driven.”
Other topics discussed at the event, held at the Four Seasons Hotel Denver, included the importance of social media, the retail strategy at Denver International Airport and the use of urban gardens for restaurants.
Hodges Ward Elliott Director Rick Rush provided the opening keynote speech during which he discussed market fundamentals in the hospitality sector.
“This is the most dynamic cycle we’ve ever had,” Rush said. “We’ve had record demand for eight consecutive years.”