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What hospitality can learn from retail

what hospitality can learn from retail
Commercial Acceleration Working From Coffee Bar
(images above from Hoxton Hotel)

Let me start with a question.

“How big is your hotel?”

If you answered with the number of rooms your hotel has, you’ve still got your head stuck in the traditional world of hospitality.  Now imagine if you started thinking of your hotel from a retail perspective i.e. square metres of floor space.  By doing this you’ll not only realise how much space you actually have but also how much space that is not being utilised.

That’s because the thing with retail is, from B&Q to Harrods, they make every inch of their space count.  They even have their own mantras to make sure no one ever forgets what is important – phrases like, “Eye level is buy level” and “Retail is detail”.  So in keeping with this, I’m going to suggest a few hospitality mantras you may find useful.

Give Every Space A Face

I always believe it’s very important to focus on total revenue and not just room revenue. If you start thinking like that, you immediately start looking for potential revenue in every area of your hotel.

So what I mean by “Give every space a face”, is to look at the different areas of your hotel from a customer’s point of view and think how they see it.  For instance, could you make more of your existing lobby?  With so much hybrid working going on now, both individuals and teams will be looking for a ‘third space’ to work.

Sheraton have already got in on the act. Their new re-brand is focusing on communal areas. The new look is inspired by a ‘public square’ with loads of both public and private meeting spaces. The renovation goes beyond just putting in new furniture. Their new hotel lobbies are designed with the feel of a town centre in mind where everything is ‘within arm’s reach’. The whole area is anchored by a ‘community table’, which is essentially a giant co-working space that can also double as a dining room.

Commercial Acceleration Picture3

And here’s another example. A new co-working space at The Hoxton Hotel in London, Southwark where home comforts meet hotel living.

Commercial Acceleration Working From Communal Space

Loss Leaders Not Lost Leaders

Loss leaders are used a lot in retail.  Items that you sell at a loss to get people into your store.  A good example in hospitality is Las Vegas.  Both rooms and food in the hotels are extremely cheap because they want you to stay and gamble in their casinos.

Loss leaders can also be ideas that although they don’t in themselves make a huge amount of money for a hotel, they do provide a great perceived value for the guests.

For the past three years, The Pfister Hotel in Milwaukee has had an artist-in-residence. It has a studio and gallery in which a chosen artist can work and exhibit to hotel guests and the general public.

Commercial Acceleration Nykoli Koslow

Don’t think you have to run some hip, boutique hotel to put in place an idea like this. After all, The Savoy had an artist-in-residence as long ago as 1901 who painted some nice views of the Thames from the hotel. You may have heard of him – Claude Monet?

Fowey Hall in Cornwall have given over an old stable to Fiona Golfar, contributing editor of FT ‘How to Spend it’ and ‘House and Garden UK’.  She has carefully and lovingly curated ‘The Little Shop’ at Fowey Hall. It’s full of an eclectic collection of homewares, clothing, books and beauty products.  It’s not going to make huge profits for the hotel, but it adds to the feel and the story of the hotel, that will have guests talking about it and coming back again and again.

You need to be a hotelier with vision and full of ideas to see the potential of a loss leader and so the mantra: Loss Leaders Not Lost Leaders.

Remember Members

There is also a great opportunity now to follow the subscription model that has proved so successful for companies like Netflix and Spotify.  Benefits include recurring revenue and recognising and rewarding loyalty.

CitizenM hotels have successfully taken on this subscription model for travelling employees.  Instead of paying for those big hotel, office space or co-working bills, they have created the perfect work-sleep-meet-entertain hybrid

Commercial Acceleration citizenm

Research shows people are very positive about hotels launching a subscription model for co-working, offering people a new more productive environment in which to work, compared to their own home. In fact, 65% of business leaders describe this idea as very appealing.

Village Hotel Club has embraced this model with open arms. Not only are they offering a ‘third space’ working environment, VWorks coworking – they are offering 4 different membership types.  With the Platinum Package offering access to their state of the art gym, fitness classes and pool, you don’t even need to join a separate gym.   Members also get discounts on accommodation and food and drinks at Village.  It really is the full package!

Commercial Acceleration village vworks 2020 gym membership
Commercial Acceleration vworks

Here’s what one of their members said about VWorks: “The flexibility of the VWorks model really works for me, especially the meeting pods bookable by the hour for those more confidential meetings you don’t want in a Starbucks”.

As we come out of a year of lockdown, there are some great opportunities for the hospitality industry. You just have to think like a retailer and grab them.

If you’ve found this interesting and would like a bit of “retail therapy of your own”, why not get in touch. I’m an award-winning growth accelerator with years of experience – particularly in hospitality and leisure.     

Please do feel free to get in touch with me at:

Ali Powell



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