Founder & Creative Director
Today’s hotel design team needs to have vision and quest to enable thinking like an editor and building incredible brand equity through storytelling, activations and design. Like all creative endeavors, it’s all about the meticulous work that goes into making projects come off as totally effortless, with every detail harmonizing with the next. From my experiences, The more of an impression you can leave on a guest, the more likely they are to share those experiences with their networks and come back for more.
Leading with experiences that focus on natural authenticity and that are supported by community-based actions is the best methodology. For instance, the lobby space for Unscripted, a new brand from the Dream Hotel Group in Durham, is a highly activated space. A great example to visualize - - records are playing while serving classic martinis in vintage glassware—all while a live drawing class is taking place. Guests walk into the excitement and are ready to share what is created for them on their social networks. It’s all about using all the items in your toolbox to create a dynamic, exciting environment for them respond to.
One example of an editorial approach is to tell narratives that guests can appreciate without a hard explanation. For instance, at The Restoration Hotel in Charleston, South Carolina, a very strong brand narrative of Americana and the concept of Freedom + Travel was created and then those ideas were surrounded with dynamic programming that supported the themes. A great example of this are the curated full scale, gallery-quality exhibitions of things like authentic vintage American flags and religious artifacts that speak to Charleston being named “The Holy City.”
Vintage flags were displayed all across property, from farm to table restaurant The Watch, to our retail store The Port Mercantile, to our coffee shop, The Rise. In every outlet, included was a little nugget of narrative and it captivated guests attention, resulting in a flurry of social posts and revenue. With prices ranging from $800 to $25,000, 23 out of the 26 flags on display were sold. A new iteration of the exhibition is being launched this summer.
These kinds of editorially-minded successes require a lot of heavy curation and an obsession with detail. It’s more than just implementing on property; today we have to think in terms of all the narrative platforms: social, blog, newsletters, digital, publicity and of course, print, which includes a magazine, signage and a cohesive gallery guide.
The coordination of alot of thinking and creative partnerships is key to success for such a small property. In addition to coordinating the physical, rich content is very important. In the third issue of the property’s Cultural Almanac, there is a collection of articles and features that tie into on-property messaging, like how much we love SEWE, a Southeastern wildlife community-driven event that takes place in February. It’s all about refining and editing layers and layers of experience, from retail to print to social, and letting guests dive in.
Continuing to work with the philosophy of blurring lines between highly layered experiences, a project director cancast a vision for many projects. An example is Dream Hotel Group’s “Meet The Makers” program that is focused on a campaign that helps tell rich stories around the newly opened Dream Hollywood that speaks directly to the brand’s DNA.
Utilizing the pillars of “Cottage, Craft, and Hand” to reconnect with the great craftsmen and women of the Los Angeles creative community, links with custom guitar designers, mad hatters, cordwainer, and botanists to showcase their unique products in our shop is an integral part of the design. Additionally we are programming workshops and Q&A’s in versatile space at the property. We are also getting an exclusive look inside the makers’ studios through videos and interviews that will be shared across many digital channels; a very effective way to create organic buzz.
As customers become increasingly sophisticated thanks to social media and image-savvy tastemakers, the best hospitality brands are now in the business of “universe building” and sharing their visions across a mix of physical, as well as conceptual, mediums. There’s no limit to what kinds of experiences we can create for our guests and partners, and that makes for a very exciting future.