Skift Take

The lifestyle hotel segment is being pushed to innovate more quickly and drastically than ever before. Although the competition will continue to swell for several more years, we expect only a few brands will be left standing at the end.

Series: Skift Podcast

Skift Podcast

Compelling discussions with travel industry leaders and creatives who are helping to shape the future of travel.

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Lifestyle hotels were once a niche segment of the larger hotel industry, but have since grown to become the most talked about and coveted of hotels.

Much of the appeal of these well-designed properties is the expectation of a branded guest experience.

Front-line staff become brand ambassadors who are as responsible for assisting guests and perpetuating the brand through their words and actions. Staying on brand is an obsession for most companies, but becomes especially difficult when spread across multiple properties and hundreds of employees. What this external success ultimately comes down to is a strong internal culture.

To explore the relationship between company culture and guest experience at lifestyle hotels, as well as the drastic changes and competition facing these brands, host Samantha Shankman and Skift hospitality editor Greg Oates sit down with Elon Kenchington, the COO of the Gansevoort Hotel Group, and Josh Fluhr, the COO of Morgans Hotel Group.

Each of these lifestyle brands were the first of their kinds, setting the pace for what a lifestyle experience could and should feel like. However, in recent years they’ve begun to face competition as similar lifestyle brands gain traction and major hotel corporations attempt to integrate lifestyle elements into their own brands.

We talk about the changing landscape and future of the lifestyle hotel segment, how culture evolves to match the brand, and the critical role hiring plays in a hotels’ success. Our conversation could have truly lasted hours given the relentless change happening in the hospitality industry.

Check out a few of our favorite quotes from the conversation and listen to the full podcast below:

“Little things mean everything in our world.”

“We have some disruptors to the market that are unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. The Airbnbs of the world are really starting to change the way we have to look at the business from the foundational level down to the core to the way we hire and retain people so that we can compete against, not just our own industry, but other industries that have found other blue ocean out there.”

“You can’t be all things to all people. You have to take a stand and have some conviction around that statement before you become authentic. To become authentic, you have to take a position.”

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Tags: boutique hotels, executives, skift podcast, the skift travel podcast

Photo credit: The lobby at the Hudson hotel in NYC, one of the original lifestyle hotels. Tommy Klumker / Flickr